Why don’t they get it ?
Ok, so put your hands in the air if you are an HR/Learning Manager or Director. And keep them in the air if you do not believe your CFO/COO/CEO takes learning and development seriously enough in your respective companies.
Is this reflected in your lack of budget or resources? Not enough people internally in your department to make the difference?
Why do you think that might be?
Over the years a number of the HR/Learning professionals have lamented at their organization’s lack of investment in development of their employees, they have all largely expressed the opinion that their leadership see learning as an expense; an expense, that if it can be avoided, is. An expense that is the first thing to go when things are getting a little financially tight. Ask most people who recall the economic downturn of 2008/2009.
There are however a couple of key words contained in that last paragraph that might lead us to an answer as to why the Executive Leadership Teams seemingly do not take Learning and Development as seriously as they might. Those words are expense and investment. I do not wish to bore you with dictionary definitions but bear with me here for a second.
How would you define an investment ?
‘The investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.’
And an Expense?
‘Money spent or costs incurred through the operations of the business’
Well, I think we have our answer. In HR and Learning we talk about investing in people, but when we sell the plans to the C level it simply sounds like an expense. The fact is that HR, and Learning people in general simply do not speak the same language as the CFO.
Assumptions are made that learning, surely is a good thing and the more people are developed, the better equipped they will become and the business will benefit. Well, its a little more complicated than that. We need to start speaking the language of Return on Investment. I am not about to go into this topic now. Its too large a topic to be done any kind of justice in this format.
But think, was your budget given to you this year like a handout or did you fight and explain the strategy behind your plan, how it was developed and where the potential returns were going to come from?
If you didn’t, you only have yourself to blame!
Regional Director, PetroSkills Middle East