The Future for Trainers, Organizational Development and Human Resources Professionals

Anytime human resources (HR), organizational development (OD) and training professionals are together in a room, someone inevitably asks the question, “So, what is the future of our roles?” After many years of effort, we finally have a seat at the table. However, the table has morphed from a long, wood plank in the middle of the room to connections between smartphones, Skype, the Cloud and other electronic devices. If we keep doing what we are doing today, will we be able to maintain our hard-fought positions?

What’s changed in the workplace?

  • The competition for talent is ON.  Manpower’s latest survey found that 52% of American companies are having trouble filling open positions.
  • With the advent of social networking, information flow has gone from top-down to coming at us from every direction. Upper management does not have the same level of control over messaging and information dissemination.
  • It is reported that now only 30% of learning happens in the classroom.
  • Companies are doing away with traditional HR constructs such as performance reviews and classroom training.
  • There is an increase in the use of contingent workers.
  • Telecommuting is more prevalent than ever before.
  • There are so many generations in today’s workforce — Baby Boomers through Gen Z, all in one place, working together with different values, motivators and learning styles.

How do we add value in this new environment?

The value of HR, OD and training professionals has changed.  We are moving from being subject matter experts to facilitators – of information and, knowledge. Our focus today is on:

  • Retaining top talent
  • Encouraging collaboration, innovation and learning
  • Creating an engaging employment experience
  • Increasing skills to meet business objectives in an ever-changing environment

With this new mission, we are starting to see the roles of HR, OD and training overlap in ways we haven’t seen before.  Companies are hiring OD professionals for HR functions, HR professionals who can also train, and training professionals who straddle business operations and development. Many HR functions are being outsourced completely, leaving talent management and development to line staff.

The competencies all HR, OD and training professionals need going forward include:

  • Utilization of e-learning and social media platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Influence skills – creating communities of interest, facilitating conversations about learning and development and talent
  • Use of employee engagement tools and knowledge of intrinsic motivators of different generations
  • Understanding your business and how to use skill gap analysis and needs assessments to support future initiatives
  • Outstanding verbal communications and platform skills

This last point is critical – as our focus shifts we will be required to convey information and encourage collaboration in ways we’ve never had to before. Now is the time to brush up on your influencing and negotiating skills!

OD, HR and training professionals need to work hard to maintain the momentum we’ve achieved in the workplace. Staying tuned into technology and becoming master facilitators will enable us to push learning and employee retention to new levels.  Become a driver of innovation and collaboration. Yesterday’s saying of “knowledge is power” has converted to “sharing knowledge is power.” How will you help your employees share knowledge?

Colleen Longstreet and Michelle Winkley, partners at, a comprehensive talent management, human resources and recruiting solutions firm. Colleen can be reached at or on twitter @GingerHRConsult. Michelle can be reached at or on twitter @mwinkley.

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