T&D Staff Size - Training and Development

To answer that, we must look at the total organization and determine the numbers of people whose major contribution is training or developing others. We will

  1. make no effort to determine whether they are T&D Department employees or line employees doing T&D work, and
  2. consider the total manpower posts devoted to T&D, even though they may involve several people working part-time to fill up one post.

The best strategy is to obtain benchmarking data for companies similar to yours.Many industry trade associations collect and distribute such data. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) produces several annual reports and offers a free benchmarking service to companies that provide data for their database. The Saratoga Institute also publishes a great deal of statistical data on training and development.

Such data are useful only as "benchmarks" and must be augmented with reliable signals from the top of the organization. This is just one more reason why the T&D manager needs to be—and actually is—increasingly close to the people who make the major planning decisions. By both physical and organizational proximity,the T&D or the Human Resource Director is indeed one of the strategic planners.

But broad, sweeping plans and policies are ultimately validated and carried out through details, one step at a time. The discovery of a performance problem, current or imminent because of new programs, is the first moment the T&D manager is certain about the volume of work the T&D specialists will face. As a result, flexibility in staff size is highly desirable.

The variation between "highs" and "lows" isn't devastating. There is more than one way for the T&D staff to absorb the fluctuation:

  • Since the T&D department needs more than normal allocations for educating its own staff, sometimes that can be slowed down to take care of unexpected peak workloads.
  • People with T&D experience can be rotated into other managerial positions as part of their own education and development. When the peak occurs, they can be temporarily reassigned to the T&D project.
  • Outside resources (consultants, contract instructors, or graduate students studying T&D in nearby universities) can temporarily augment the staff during heavy workloads.
  • Temporary staff members, employed for one project only or for a limited number of projects, can lighten a heavy workload.

These people also learn a great deal about when to train and how to do it well; they are thus rich resources as strong allies in other parts of the organization. Each of these is a useful option—but the best way to avoid unexpected peaks in workload is (repeat!) for the T&D manager to be in constant communication with the chief executives of the organization. This permits an early warning system that not only protects the T&D department against surprises but also allows the T&Manager to counsel the executives about the real human resource costs of contemplated policy changes and programs.

The initial question from most T&D managers is, "What will it cost to run the department?" That can't be answered until an estimate is made about how many performance problems deserve solving. Not always, but usually, the basis for deciding whether a performance problem is worth solving is the cost effectiveness. For this reason, the most pervasive budgeting question the T&D manager asks is,"What will it cost this organization to keep employees performing at standard?"

A good specific question is this: "What is this performance problem costing us?" The answers to that question are not always easy to discover—but they are usually there. Let's look at the process for getting the answers.


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