Training is an Operations Role
Let’s say you run a small e-commerce store. It sells Widgets and has a fulfillment center on the outskirts of town (where rent is cheap). Your office is in the heart of the city (where it’s cool to have an office). You have ten people in the warehouse, handling the pick-pack-and-shipping. The customer service reps, a few accountants, a couple of IT staff, a big team of sales and marketing folks, HR (or course) and the leadership team (which is you) are all in the city.
Now, let’s say you need to scale up your organization. You know you need some sort of centralized inventory, maybe an accounting platform that isn’t a bunch of spreadsheets, and possibly even a way for customers to have a chat with the reps. So, you find this unicorn of software wonder and buy it and….well….now what?
Who trains your staff on how to use it? The company you bought the software from? No, they don’t know how your specific business works. They only know how their software works.
They can ‘onboard’ you, or provide basic training on the functions, but that’s like showing someone how to drive a car when what they really need to know is why they’re driving and the reason they are taking a route.
Onboarding is not unhelpful, but it sure isn’t helpful!
Now, what if you had a trainer, maybe someone delivered some HR compliance training or even helped with the new hires? “But that trainer is part of the HR team. How could they help?”
That’s a great question. The answer is they couldn’t.
As a part of HR, their concerns, even as a trainer, is not about training. It’s about your human resources and the assorted challenges of that sphere. Maybe an IT trainer? Nope, same problem, except now they’re focused on the technology part of the problem.
And that’s why training needs to be a part of operations. Not HR, not embedded in a department, but as part of the operations team of the company. The team that defines, refines, and manages the business processes. The team that clarifies how the output of one department becomes the input of the next. Operations can go to accounting and say, “Stop alphabetizing Report X and instead sort it by amount” because only operations could know that Report X is used by 5 other departments, all of whom reorganize the report by amount.
But it goes further than that. Problems in the workplace aren’t always issues of information. Most times, they’re issues of process. Increases in errors? Probably a changed process. Drop in productivity? Well, what changed? And can we change it back?
It might be as simple as increasing the font size in the CRM you have. Or making sure that everyone on the sales team is using the same spreadsheet. Or changing the color coded pipeline to address red-green color-blindness (8% of males from Northern European descent).
And none of those things are training solutions.
Operations is about building a process. A bunch of processes that fit together make up a company. If a process is not obvious, then you need either a) a better process or b) training to fill in the gap.
And the odds you need b are extremely slim.
Here’s a great flowchart from Cathy Moore that illustrates when training *might* be the answer