Cooperative Effort - Training and Development

It might be interesting to examine all the entries in the preceding table to see how many actions involve cooperation and collaboration between the T&D manager and the client manager. Few are totally assignable to one side of that line/staff boundary. There is an incredible amount of give-and-take, of mutual effort required to solve performance problems.

And the reason always boils down to this: The line knows its own operation best(including its problems and resources), and the staff sees larger perspectives as it brings its special technology to the solution of performance problems.

It is common for the T&D function to be headquartered in a staff location and thus have "functional" responsibility for training line employees.When such arrangements are installed, a staff of "professionals"inhabits the central T&D department, and "on-the-job trainers"answer to local management within the line operation.

One danger of this system is that the line trainers may become second-class citizens.They do the routine work, teaching from outlines prepared by the "super trainers"from the central staff. Indeed, staff instructors are often better paid; they have organizational rather than local visibility; they attend outside seminars and grow in professionalism. Because the local trainers are all too often given little upgrading, their instructional skills deteriorate.

Yet the so-called second-class trainers are often perceived as doing the real training work in the real world of the organization. They're out there "on the firing line" and they know "where the real action is." Staff trainers are called such things as "ivory-tower theoreticians." They are often accused of being "too academic."

As long as the rivalry between line and staff trainers can stay affectionate and collaborative, it presents little real danger to an organization. Furthermore, there are definite ways to overcome the dangers that do exist.

One excellent method is to use teaching teams composed of T&D specialists and line instructors. In small organizations, as with a one-person T&Department, the T&D line-manager team offers both local credibility and instructional expertise. The cross-pollination from such teams is obvious: Line trainers are exposed to the technology and larger perspective of staff specialists; T&D specialists have first-hand data and experience in operating shops and offices .

Unfortunately,team teaching is expensive: two leaders instead of one. Nor is it always appropriate to the methods needed for the learning. But even if teams cannot be used all the time, they can be used some of the time. Team-design efforts are equally useful. Involvement by both line and staff personnel enhances the quality of the program—and can contribute to the education of all who participate. Other collaborative efforts can be designed. The nature of the operation, the philosophy about line/staff prerogatives, the position in the marketplace, the marketing strategy—all these influence decisions about what tasks are assigned to staff and what tasks to line elements. But in any arrangement, as many collaborative interfaces as possible between T&D staff, client-management, and line instructors are highly desirable. Central arrangements may prevent inventing the wheel all over again—but they also create some square wheels unless such collaboration exists!


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