Why L&D need to be at more HR meetings

I hear it regularly enough. I’ve written about it previously. And yet it’s still a topic which gets refreshed. HR bashing is a thing. Oddly, many in L&D seem to want to do it just as much with no irony that the business views the two as the same and so you’re bashing yourselves?

And I’ll hear it regularly still.

I’m not HR. Never have been. Never will be.

HR don’t know what they’re doing, I’m glad I’m not part of then.

We could get so much more done if it wasn’t for HR.

It’s almost like there’s a parallel here for tribes, or nations, or pretty much any grouping in human history.

And here’s what I’ve learned from being in organisations where there’s a whole mix of ways that L&D and HR are either part of the same teams or not.

1. If you’re not in the same team, find a way to have regular conversations with your HRBPs. They have a whole fountain of insight and knowledge about their part of the world which is invaluable. They’re having conversations with business leaders you’re not having. By having regular conversations with your HRBP you learn what’s important to them, understand what they’re working on, and can offer solutions and L&D support. In all likelihood you’ll get invited to do stuff with that part of the business and the business leaders.

2. The broader HR process stuff is important for organisational effectiveness. The annual performance review process, the employee engagement activities, performance management and ER, recruitment – and in many cases L&D is owning the responsibility for many of these things. If you want those things to be better, get involved in them. Lead on them. Provide leadership and your thinking. That’s how change happens, not by sitting on the outskirts and bitching.

3. Influence can only be a thing if you’re present and taking ownership of what’s happening when you’re talking to business leaders. If business leaders are bitching about HR, don’t join in the bitch fest with them. Instead listen. Just listen and let the business leader know you understand what they’re saying and you’ll talk to the HRBP about your conversation. You’re there having a conversation about appraisals and they’re moaning about the system they have to use. You own that just as much as HR do.

4. If the system is crap and you can’t escape using it, then for now make it the best damned system for you to work with. And help HR find a better system. Do your research, talk to the vendors, get demos arranged. Influence, influence, influence. And until then, work out what the system does well. Focus on that and make it do that and that only. All the other things you need it to do but it can’t? Just find a different solution.

5. In most cases, L&D reports into HR. The business doesn’t care if you have different roles. Business leaders see you as one and the same function. So if you’re out there bad mouthing the function, be aware it says just as much about your character as the truth bombs you might be laying out.

6. In the world of social media, it’s easy to get people riled up by bashing someone else or bashing a function. People like Katie Hopkins make a living out of it. Many people agree with what she says. But she’s not the moral stalwart she portrays. I wouldn’t trust her word on many things. And it’s not because she doesn’t say true things. It’s because her truths are about the defamation and demonisation of others. I don’t want to be associated with someone like that in any aspect of my life.


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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