Notes from the field: How to spend $1.635 million dollars on training and not know it

Working as a trainer in an operational department, I am surprised at the number of people who have the word “training” in their job title. What do these people actually do?

I understand your confusion. Unfortunately, training takes many forms. I have seen it used in HR as a cost reduction initiative marketed as a talent development program (watch out for this slick little trick during a merger and/or acquisition). It doesn’t get any further from talent development than this! The list below represents a talent development team working in a typical blue chip corporation. I have thrown in some oil gas salaries in CND currency for scale.

  1. Director, Training and Organization Development 210,000
  2. Senior Training Manager 170,000
  3. Training Manager 140,000
  4. Competency Manager 120,000
  5. Training Supervisor 110,000
  6. Training and Development Advisor/Coordinator 95,000
  7. Instructional Design Project Manager/ aka Technical Writer 70,000
  8. Learning Content Management System Administrator 55,000
  9. Learning Management System Administrator 55,000
  10. Human Resources Director 190,000
  11. Human Resources Manager 150,000
  12. Human Resources Talent Development Lead 85,000
  13. HR Career Pathing Advisor (I’m not making this one up) 65,000
  14. Human Resources Talent Development Advisor 65,000
  15. Human Resources Administrator aka Strategic Enterprise Information Management 55,000

The bureaucracy at this level is quite impressive. Expect to see a few ranch hands working on Maggie’s farm with titles such as Team Lead, Workplace Solutions 60,000 and Change Management Specialist 70,000.

The most important thing to understand about training, it is a product. Second, your title “trainer”, is not on the list because everyone on the list has nothing to do with what you do. Let’s unpack this. The 17 people on the list are sales agents. The sales pitch is formed by the market place of ideas (see, How HR Co-Opted OT). The market determines functionality of a product and the services they offer. HR is the merchant of bureaucracy making the “product”, software. The software architecture is designed to do very specific things. The service HR provides will be whatever the architect designed. The agents don’t operate outside of the operating parameters. However, every now and then, someone leaves their swim lane causing confusion. Such is the case when a job title is based on software functionality. These job titles are not very exciting, so talent development adds a little fizz, and presto, an HR agent is now a “training specialist”. A data base coordinator becomes a “training/learning management system administrator”. In this case, both the job title and the thing they do have nothing to do with training. Now the good news. If every person on the list was fired today, nothing would change for you. Now the bad news. Bureaucracy on this magnitude creates a false sense of security. The 17 sales pitches would have you believe three things. First, everyone is qualified to be doing what they do. Second, everything is in its proper place. Third, if the previous two exist, you must be free of all risk. Trainers have been trained to only look through the key hole. – Fut McGorphy