Even in companies where human resources (HR) and learning and development (L&D) are separate teams, the worlds collide, overlap, and—in the best cases—collaborate to boost performance across the organization.

Two longtime Learning Guild community members who will be presenting sessions at Learning & HR Tech Solutions in April shared their views on how the worlds of HR and L&D professionals intersect and offered a sneak preview of their sessions. They highlighted some benefits of HR—L&D collaboration, such as more effective training, which can drive improved performance, and building specific skills that the individual, team, or organization needs.

Rosa Espinal, a senior HR manager at CareerSource Central Florida, has deep experience in both HR and L&D. Her session, Transforming HR with Powered Strategies, will focus on collaboration and "mostly on how our worlds collide—learning and HR—and how we can together collaborate for effective change, employee development, and employee engagement within organizations." Espinal will also share with attendees the tools and technology that make her more effective at that collaboration.

Collaboration boosts effectiveness

From her perch in HR, Espinal says, "If I'm not partnering with the leaders—with operations and others—then I won't know if learning is happening. I won't know if someone needs additional assistance or if the learning is transferring well—if the programs are truly working well.

Barry Nadler, who will present Skills of the Future—Defining a Plan to Acquire Skills You Need, homes on employee development as a critical area of collaboration: "I would say that HR and L&D intersect at the point where we are developing an employee. When these two worlds are separated, L&D tends to think about courses and creating training materials, what are all the things that a team needs to learn; where HR is built around developing employees and the employee experience and making sure that work and their life intersect and in different ways. If you separate those two pieces, they don't all meet. The focus is different."

When the teams collaborate, though, a different picture emerges. "When they come together as a partnership, now you're looking at the holistic situation of the employee—and when you know what skills you're trying to create and you know what the goal is in the end, training can come in," he said.

This shift allows L&D teams to focus on building skills and tailoring training to individual employees and their career paths—or around immediate needs in the employee's current job role. This is a change, Nadler says, from telling employees how to do their jobs.

L&D can smooth performance management

If an employee is struggling with skills or performance, some organizational leaders may assume it's a training issue; L&D team members can also get pulled into performance management challenges in other ways as well: "If someone isn't doing well and we have to possibly place that person on a performance improvement plan … that purview actually falls under me and what I do in my area," Espinal explained. "It is a shared purview with the director of HR and myself—we're collaborating on creating tools that make it easier for the managers to do the succession management piece, the performance management pieces, and annual review and mid-year review."

Espinal points out that this area of intersection between HR and L&D is helpful because "oftentimes, if someone isn't performing well, it's tied to something in the training that can be improved." In these cases, collaboration between HR and L&D means both teams are actively supporting the improvement of the employee, Espinal said.

This is helpful in more scenarios than boosting a struggling employee: Espinal also cites examples of collaborating to close skills gaps, aligning onboarding to organizational needs, and promoting organizational culture: "Goals are set within HR, but then learning and development, creating programs that help promote that awareness and understanding and really bringing that inclusion factor in, so that people get it, right," she said.

Fostering collaboration

Nadler expands on the benefits of collaboration in improving overall performance: "I work with a lot of different teams and it means that I get to see what each of the different silos is doing and I can compare them—and I can advise." Recognizing issues that crop up on multiple teams aids both HR and L&D in finding solutions that work for the entire organization, he said.

Elevate YOUR team's performance at LHRTS

Whether you are on an HR team, an L&D team, or a team that does it all, you'll find the people and solutions you're looking for at Learning & HR Tech Solutions, April 23–25, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.

"This is the first time that [the Guild is] taking these two components and they're bringing them together. And, because they're doing that, we're going to get a group of people that's there that are not just learning professionals and they're not just HR professionals. … You're creating this pool of people that you can talk to who are going to be in similar positions to you. But they're also bringing a different experience to you, which allows you to widen your skill base and bring new things back to your company with new perspectives," Nadler said.

What are you waiting for? Register today!