The role of human resources (HR) is to develop and implement a process to help manage key business resources — employees. HR practices include recruitment, hiring, onboarding, benefits management, skills training, performance reviews and exit interviews. There are important results from these HR practices that can guide the design, development and delivery of effective and authentic learning experiences.
The Recruitment Process
The goal of recruiting is to find and hire employees who not only fit a job description but who also fit into the culture of the organization and have “staying” power – employees who will become valuable company assets and grow individually while contributing to the organization.
What can we learn from the recruiting function? What if we did a better job of recruiting learners for training?
Some training industry professionals may already tap into this practice when performing audience analysis. If we take that analysis a few steps further and frame our approach as a recruitment tactic, we may be able to assign our learners more appropriate learning solutions that can result in growth and retention.
The Interview Process
The purpose of the interview is to find the most appropriate candidate for the job. Key stakeholders are given the opportunity to ask questions and identify the individual who would be the best fit for the position and organization.
Think about the types of questions HR professionals ask job candidates:
- What experience do you have?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in working here?
- What sets you apart from other candidates?
- Where do you want to be five years from now?
In the training landscape, these questions often take the form of a pre-test in. If we frame our approach along the lines of an interview process, we can design questions that will guide learners along pathways that are more aligned with their specific needs.
The Onboarding Process
As training professionals, we are highly familiar with the onboarding process, where HR typically pulls us in to design, develop, and/or deliver orientation training. The onboarding process introduces new employees to the organization, articulates core values, establishes expectations and developmental goals, and eases the transition into the business’ culture.
The full onboarding process involves careful consideration of what the Society for Human Resource Management refers to as the four Cs:
- Compliance: basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations
- Clarification: ensuring that the employee understands his or her job and expectations
- Culture: providing employees with a sense of organizational norms
- Connection: interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish
The onboarding process does not stop after orientation; it continues to serve the new employee as he or she progresses from new hire to seasoned professional. It’s not only the responsibility of the HR team but of every individual who comes in contact with the new hire.
Onboarding is where we, as training professionals, can learn the most. We orient our learners to our learning solutions, but do we stay with them along the way? Do we put everything they need in place to help them evolve from “new” to “seasoned”?
A full onboarding process includes frameworks that keep new hires on a pathway towards success, such as 30/60/90-day plans. These plans lay out a strategy for setting goals, working with others, managing workload and shaping growth opportunities.
Imagine if we did that for our learners! They need to know more than where they are and where they are going; they need to know how they are progressing along the way. To put this into practice, consider integrating coaching and mentoring practices to guide a 30/60/90-day learning plan.
The Performance Review Process
Building on the onboarding process is the performance review, an essential practice of communication and feedback. The review serves as historical documentation of individual performance and typically includes the practice of setting and renewing goals.
As training professionals, we weave goal setting into the design, development and delivery of learning experiences, but what about goal renewal? What about asking our learners their perspective on how they performed against established goals and what new goals they’d like to set to guide their future learning?
Performance reviews often guide decisions related to promotion and salary increases. How do we translate them into the learning lifecycle? We can provide employees with opportunities to contribute to our learning spaces by curating content, sharing expertise and mentoring others.
The Exit Interview Process
Employee feedback during exit interviews can provide the HR function with guidance on improving working conditions, facilitating communication and mitigating employee turnover. Many times, employees are more willing to share their experiences candidly when they are on their way out the door.
Do our end-of-course surveys capture candid information? Is there some way we can gain more useful intelligence from our learners as they are on their way out? Are there informal questions that we should be asking about their learning experiences?
We need to be sure that learner feedback is working its way back into our learning design, development and delivery processes. We also need to find ways to use the information we obtain from our learner exit interviews to guide our recruiting and retention efforts.
The Process in Practice
This article has only skimmed the surface of the HR process. Exploring these practices for guidance and inspiration can help you cultivate a more thoughtful practice of designing, developing, delivering and managing training and development solutions. This practice will include recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, reviewing and facilitating meaningful conclusions for your learners.