Who Should Be Responsible for Training in Workplace

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This paper aims to determine who should take responsibility for learning and training in the workplace: either human resource management (HRM) specialists or line managers. To some extent, both of them can contribute to the development of employees professional skills. HR managers have a wider range of duties such as recruitment, assessment of performance, labor relations, and so forth. Training is only one of the tasks that they perform. In their turn, line managers act mostly as observers and instructors (Bohlander & Snell, 2009, p 32). Overall, labor force training has recently become of the most thought-provoking questions for many scholars. Many of them emphasize the idea that the very concept of training has undergone a drastic change; now it is related not only to the current activities of the employee but also to the tasks, which he/she may do in the future (Landale, 1999). This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to decide who should take charge of this process. At this point, there is hardly unanimity among scholars concerning this issue and we can argue that HR and line managers should work hand in hand to raise the core competencies of the workers to a higher level. Thus, the next section of this paper will explain the importance of HRM specialists and why they should bear responsibility for the results. The third part will present the arguments in support of line managers role and their significance for the process of workplace education. This will enable us to gain deeper insights into this problem.

The role of HR specialists

It should be pointed out that HRM specialists are much more aware of the goals, set the organization, its internal and external environment, workforce demands, labor relations, customers, and so forth (Bratton & Gold, 2001). These are the factors that should be taken into account before the development of an employee training program. HR managers have a more comprehensive view of the company and this knowledge allows them to map out strategies that would meet the companys current capabilities with its long-term objectives. Besides, these people can evaluate the best practices and models, adopted by other firms and introduce them into the workplace. In the vast majority of cases, line managers are deprived of this opportunity. This evidence indicates that HRM specialists are better equipped for such duties as training.

Most importantly, these people can identify those aspects of employees skills that need improvement. This idea is supported by the so-called systematic training model, according to which HR managers are primarily responsible for the development of the so-called on-the-job training programs, their implementation, and evaluation (Bratton & Gold, 2001, p 383). Although it is normally done with the help of outside instructors, HRM specialists remain the key decision-makers because they know much more about the firms structure, technology, mission, prospects of development, etc. Thus, the responsibility lies mostly on their shoulders.

Apart from that, HRM specialists know about workers’ educational background, his/her former experience, and career expectations. This is why they are better able to satisfy the needs of the enterprise and the needs of the staff. As we have pointed out before, contemporary training programs are supposed to prepare not only for his/her present job but for the job he may obtain shortly. This is why they need to evaluate the potential of the worker, his/her preferences, and previous experience. It is of crucial importance that workplace training provides an employee with an opportunity for self-improvement. This is one of the goals which HR managers should attain.

At this moment, we should enumerate the major functions of HR managers regarding training. First of all, they tailor and implement formal orientation programs, which means that they help a new hire to better understand the nature of his/her duties. They help him/her to adapt to the new environment (Werner & DeSimone, 2008). This is also an inseparable part of the training and only HR specialists can do this task because they are more versed in the psychology of the newcomer. One cannot deny that line managers greatly assist them but they do not participate in decision-making. Their key task is to make an objective assessment of the workers performance, give him or her some professional tips but they cannot alter instruction methodologies. Furthermore, HRM specialists enable a newcomer to achieve professional growth by improving his/her leadership skills. This requires great proficiency in psychology, which line managers do not usually possess. Thus, it seems that they cannot be held fully answerable for the outcomes of the training program.

It has to be acknowledged that HR managers do not closely monitor the workers as this is not one of their major duties. This is predominantly the domain of line managers. But HRM specialists can better analyze the behavior of an employee. Their main objective is to understand why he/she does not perform and how to eliminate these obstacles. We should also note that, unlike line managers, HRM specialists know about the functioning of various departments within the firm as well those tasks, done by the members of these departments. Therefore, they can design a training program that would best suit various employees. On the whole, the main duty is to find a compromise between the goals of the organization and the personal needs of workers.

When speaking about workforce training, we should also mention the so-called change management, which aims to adjust the company towards the needs of the market, the economic situation in the country, etc. The necessity for change is one of the underlying causes why many companies decide to pay close attention to workplace training (Paton & McCalman, 2008). HRM specialists directly participate in this process as they encourage workers to take a critical view of themselves. Most importantly, their task is to mark out the gaps in the workers knowledge. In addition to that, they need to select an instruction methodology that would provide a powerful incentive to the workers. Again, we should set stress on the idea that these people should carefully scrutinize the external environment of the company, HR policies, implemented by the competitors. Their analytical skills will be most helpful for the development of training programs. The thing is that they are more or less competent in several areas of study: psychology, planning, scheduling, or instruction methodology. This fact gives them a good advantage over others. Unlike them, line managers focus on some very specific fields.

Therefore, HRM specialists seem to be the key players and they should be held answerable for the success or failure of the training program. Nonetheless, this debate appears to be slightly one-sided because it does not explain the contribution of line managers and it must not be disregarded. The following section will on this issue more minutely.

Line management

Before turning to the question of the line managers’ relation to the learning and training processes in the workplace, the main peculiarity of line managers should be discussed along with their responsibilities. Line managers are managers who are responsible for the working process in the company; they coordinate and control employees, motivate them, solve everyday problems and answer different questions that may appear in the working process (Pride, Hughes, & Kapoor, 2009, p.174). Therefore, one of the main responsibilities of the line manager is to plan the work of employees and to maintain control functions in the workplace.

The direct responsibilities of line managers may be summarized under such items:

  1. performance appraisal,
  2. giving constructive feedback through observations,
  3. searching for opportunities to stretch workers’ performance,
  4. helping workers to form relations inside and outside the team,
  5. be the role model for task fulfillment and growth (Clutterbuck, 2004, p.77).

Considering the main responsibilities of line managers, it should be underlined that learning and training functions are not to be excluded. While performance appraisal functions and giving constructive feedback through observations function, line managers are sure to give some hints or teach how to behave to increase the effectiveness of the working process. Moreover, by observing the employee’s work performance in general and monitoring some separate departments, line managers can easily dwell upon the problems that exist in the workplace. Such awareness allows line managers to think about the learning and training procedures that may reduce these problems and make the working process smooth and effective. Performing such actions, line managers conduct their learning and training functions without realizing in fact that they execute direct functions of human resource managers.

Discussing the role of line managers in the learning programs in the workplace, it should be mentioned that working with employees, line managers should act so many responsibilities that sometimes it becomes too difficult to differentiate between learning and working. Line managers provide informal learning that takes place while working process. To the point, the difficulty in differentiating learning and working processes makes it possible for the head of the company not to include the training costs of line managers in the budget. Still, line managers regard training in the workplace as their responsibility. The necessity of line managers involved in the learning and training process is explained by the assessment responsibilities that they perform (Bratton & Gold, 2001, p.273).

One of the direct responsibilities of line managers is to help new employees to form their relations with the staff. There are a great many different strategies and techniques of relation improvement. Line managers usually organize staff briefings using different methods of teamwork. Being the role model for employees, the line manager must teach and train as his authority helps him to be the leader and make everybody listen and learn. Being the leader, line managers try to notice leaders in the workplace and develop their properties. In fact, in this case, line managers implement the roles and responsibilities of human resource managers (Ashton & Sung, 2002, p.26).

There is a tendency that line managers are responsible for learning and training procedures in the workplace. This tendency is observed for several reasons, one of which is the costs reduction. Devolving some human resource management responsibilities on line managers, such as learning and training in the workplace, companies manage to reduce the size of the HR management department that, in its turn, will reduce costs. Moreover, turning to the question of learning and training in the workplace, it becomes natural that employees expect to be involved in some learning processes to increase their competency in this or that question. Performing the same functions in the relation to staff training, line managers and human resource managers still execute different responsibilities that they may never be substituted for one another.

Thorne (2004) compares the line manager with the coach whose main amenabilities are learning and development. To explain this opinion, Thorne (2004) dwells that the line manager is the role model for employees who teaches them by his example. Knowing the peculiarities of each employee, line managers may organize learning in such a way that each member of the staff will receive the knowledge necessary only for him/her; the personal needs of the employees will be taken into account. Moreover, being aware of the needs of every employee, line managers may easily understand preferable sources for the education and development of every employee. Properly identified resources and needs will surely make a profit on learning and increase the effectiveness of the working process in general.

Summarizing the information mentioned above, line managers play a crucial part in the learning and training processes in the workplace. One of the main reasons for such activities is the devolving and mix of responsibilities of line and human resource managers. Moreover, line managers are responsible for the quality of work employees perform; their main functions are control and supervision. Therefore, line managers should implement informal learning in the workplace and in some cases organize staff briefings for working environment improvement.

Discussion section

Having considered the roles of human resource managers and line managers in the process of learning and training in the workplace, it is possible now to point out who should be responsible for these activities in the workplace. Still, both human resource managers and line managers must perform a great many functions. Dealing with recruitment, assessment of performance, and labor relations human resource managers are responsible for training and learning processes in the workplace. Working with staff is the direct amenability of human resource management and implementation of different educational and learning techniques is obligatory.

The responsibilities of line managers are narrower as they mostly perform the function of supervisors, observing and controlling the working process. Still, the relation of line managers to the learning process is crucial. While monitoring, line managers are sure to find some mistakes or defects in the work, and to eliminate them line managers will have to teach employees. It is not a wide educational process, but the training value of such activities is high. Line managers provide an informal learning process in the workplace; that is also important.

Dividing the responsibilities of line managers and human resource managers in learning and training in the workplace, it may be mentioned that line managers mostly care about some time to time training and are responsible to give the information to the human resource managers on the knowledge which should be given to some employees. Human resource managers, in their turn, are responsible for the organization of the courses (Evans, Hodkinson & Unwin, 2002, p.152).

Human resource managers should pay more attention to learning and training activities in the workplace more. Human resource managers are responsible for systematic training that are the core factor for implementation and evaluation of employees’ activities in the workplace (Bratton & Gold, 2001, p.383). Furthermore, human resource managers deal with newcomers directly by trying to enable them to achieve higher skills and gain more experience in the work they do. Human resource managers are responsible for a formal orientation program that is created to explain to the newcomers the main peculiarities of the work they are going to perform and to involve them in the working environment (Werner & DeSimone, 2008).

There is an opinion that line managers must never turn to learn in the workplace as it may harm the whole working process. Brewster and Larsen (2000) point to the fact that devolving of learning and training functions on line managers may lead to the quality reduction and costs increase, as line managers were not trained for such actions and may make some errors or lead ineffective negotiations that may cause irreversible effects. Still, it is impossible to agree with it as line managers know the working environment much better than human resource managers. Moreover, line managers are responsible for the employees’ growth and development, so they can’t isolate from handling the matter of training in the workplace (Biech, 2008, p.650).

So, it may be argued that human resource managers should take the responsibility for learning and training in the workplace as it is their direct function among others. Still, line managers should not be removed from the same responsibilities as conducting the control and supervision, line managers will have to show some peculiarities of work or give some hints on the better use of this or that technique. Moreover, being the role model for employees, line managers unconsciously take part in the learning process.


Judging from this discussion, we can arrive at the following conclusions: 1) HRM specialists and line managers should join their efforts in an attempt to develop the most effective training models for the workforce and it is utterly impermissible for them to act separately; 2) line managers perform the function of onlookers who provide information to the HRM specialists; in addition to that they give consultations to average employees because they are more proficient in technical aspects of the job; 3) HRM specialists are competent in a wide range of disciplines and they take a more active part in problem-solving and decision-making. Consequently, they should take the responsibility for the handling of training procedures and their outcome. But even despite this fact, the importance of line managers should not be underestimated. They perform the functions of mediators between average workers and HRM specialists and without this link the company is rather unlikely to succeed in any of its initiatives.


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