Thursday, June 08, 2006

Compliance bandwagon

I’ve suddenly noticed that everyone’s jumping on the compliance bandwagon, with oodles of generic content and tracking systems. Could it be that, far from taking a strategic role in businesses, training is literally painting itself into a dark corner, where it will be increasingly ignored.

Last year’s infamous Fast Company article ‘Why We Hate HR’ predicted this, claiming that training departments will “ghettoize themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence”. Millions of sensible people are being churned and batched through patronising, often accusatory, courses that have no real behavioural impact. Even if compliance were to add vale to businesses, most of these courses are counterproductive, being largely knowledge-based. In most, you will literally lose the will to live. I have only seen one exception to this (the courses produced for Apple).

Senior managers know that this is all a big game and that it has no real business impact. It’s merely a protective immunising jab so that people can point towards some spurious LMS report showing that ‘x’ employees completed course ‘y’. This is all about attendance, not attainment; literally ticks in boxes. In fact, I’d argue that the time and resources taken to plan, design, deliver and track these courses outweigh any possible business benefits. In practice, this huge effort is likely to lower overall performance.

Learning and HR professionals complain about not getting a seat at the top table and we never will if we willingly define ourselves as delivering dull compliance programmes that have nothing to do with personal development and everything to do with the organisation protecting itself from its employees.

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