Now the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is supposed to be a very future focused organisation. It very publicly talks about the future - designing workforces for the future, future ways of working and the different specialisms within the HR function. And if you look at its web site, it talks a lot about being future focused there too.
Do I find it future focused as a supplier? No, far from it. I have a couple of gripes about the CIPD and that is one of them. Let me explain why. My operating model is around outsourced partners. I have a managed learning service provider and a digital partner. These are not new concepts in the world of HR.
So if I want to book onto a course, I ring my managed learning service and they contact the supplier and operate on my behalf. They pay the invoice, get all the instructions, make sure I know where I’m going, that I’ve done the pre-course work – all that sort of stuff.
However, the CIPD finds it phenomenally difficult to work according to that model. Say somebody from my organisation wants to book onto a course –the CIPD will not take the bookings through the managed learning service provider because their systems don’t allow it. How crazy is that?
In order to get around this problem and make a course booking, the CIPD updated my personal information within my account. They did not have permission from me to update my personal information. They updated it in order to operate in a way that allowed the managed learning service provisions to happen.
What this means is that the CIPD, the institution that represents us L&D and HR professionals, is not operating in the way you would expect in the modern world. Their systems don’t allow it apparently and this is hardly far out stuff. How can it be future focused?
Also, our managed service provider cannot evaluate course suitability because the CIPD’s systems don’t allow it. I find that mind boggling, in terms of service provision.
As a supplier, the CIPD is not willing to share information about evaluations. The repercussion of that is that I don’t know the quality of the experience that people are having on these courses. If somebody rings up and says ‘I want to do a negotiating skills training course’ for example, I want to serve them the right supplier. And to do that, I need basic information about a course, stuff like ‘How do people enjoy it? Did they feel they’d learned something? How do they feel they can apply their learning?...’ I want a supplier to give me that kind of information, but it’s not something that the CIPD will give. It will not give us indicative feedback or comments on other user experiences because again, their systems and processes don’t allow it. As an organisation, it’s just so far behind the times.
So, as a consumer, as the head of L&D in my organisation, how do I know if they are the right supplier for us, without taking a chance on an expensive course and just putting people through it?
This takes me onto my second gripe: my experience as a delegate on a CIPD course. I wanted to flex my influencing skills so I looked at a CIPD course – a two day course, priced at nearly £800 per delegate, which is almost double everywhere else. The course description sounded really great – I was totally sold. It was all about moving away from hierarchical leadership structures, the need for collaboration and the ability to perform with credibility, confidence and agility. All of this delivered using research from current thought leaders in the field of influencing. Boom, it had me.
Now, for me, going on a course like this I would expect a really quality learning experience with people at the top of their game, receiving new adult learning theories that are really dynamic and engaging. That’s what anyone in my position would expect.
So I signed up to the two day course and went on it, but I walked out after two hours. Why? Several reasons, starting from the moment of arrival. When I arrived in the training room, the consultant was up in the front of the room glued to a manual. Yes, she looked up and acknowledged I was there, but there was no conversation, no attempt to engage me or anyone else or to get us talking and comfortable with each other.
And when the session started, it got even worse. It was teacher-student delivery, all very formal. And then the content, the content supposedly from current thought leaders – some of it was going to be referencing Aristotle in terms of methods and influence. He’s BC for goodness sake! Hardly a current thought leader. And they were going to use the insights model Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion – that’s been around for a very long time. There are many more credible theories out there than this.
This was not what it said on the tin. Theories that were a couple of thousand years old! Not engaging, not dynamic – old teacher-student type dynamics. And then to top it off, there were the other delegates. Now, peer on peer relationships are critical at these types of events as the discussions you can have with people at your own level can be really good, enhancing all the theories and stuff. But no consideration had been given to the mix of people in the room. We had entry level admin HR people in that room. I was the only head of L&D. They clearly hadn’t given any consideration to the mix of delegates, which was mind blowing.
So at 11am, at the first break, I left. All of this from my institute, which represents me and my profession, who are very outward-facing about the role they play in terms of developing our workforce for the future, etc etc. And they can’t deliver the stuff themselves. How can I trust an organisation that is supposed to chart my personal development and represent me after experiences like that?
To be fair to the CIPD, I have had a feedback session with it since and explained about my experiences. I was listened to, but there has been no suggestion of how this would be followed up and what would be done to restore my confidence in them as an organisation and as a training supplier.
It’s really disappointing. They said one thing and delivered something else. And it leaves me wondering what role can such an institution play in the future of L&D when they can’t get it right themselves?