Thoughts on HRD

Prior to enrolling in this course, my knowledge of HRD consisted of Google searches. I’ve recently been looking at jobs in the corporate world that align with my current skills and expertise in the academic field. I’ve been an academic advisor for over 3 years now and I’m looking at what else I can do professionally. My professional goal has always been to provide individuals with support and resources in order for them to achieve their own personal and professional goals.  My initial internet research helped me realize the connection between HRD with what I currently do in academia – facilitate learning.  From there, I decided to enroll in this course for the opportunity to further research the field and gain a better understanding of the theory, history, and methods of HRD so I’m better prepared to transition into the field.

The main thing I realized after the readings and first class is the complexity of the field. There is no single way to view the field. The HR wheel serves to break down the field in ways I never knew existed. HRM and HRD can be viewed as two completely separate components. HR doesn’t just have to be about numbers, math, and complicated benefits and coverage questions (which are not my strengths).  Instead, the idea that Organization Development (unleashing human expertise)  and Training & Development (developing human expertise) fall under HRD is something I relate to in my current job and what I can see myself doing in a corporate setting.  I now see the larger scope and structure of HRD, which makes me even more interested (maybe even excited?) in this potentially new career path.

The individual factor is probably the single most important piece of HRD. The definition of HRD that  makes most sense to me is that it’s a strategy for aligning organizational objectives with competencies and capabilities of employees. In other words, for me it’s all about learning and development of employees who can then impact the overall organization in meeting the organization’s strategic goals.

I personally align myself with the learning centered part of the debate that places the importance on adult education. I think this is what attracts me most to the field – that an institution or organization is going to be most effective and competitive in the global market if they have employees who are informed, engaged,  and can think critically about how their organization fits in the larger, more complex market.  A similar principle applies in higher ed.  Part of VCU’s new strategic plan involves student engagement. The more engaged a student is at VCU, the more academically successful (and the more apt they are to finish in 4 years). My job as an advisor is to help facilitate that engagement through teaching, appointments, and electronic communication. Part of my strategy for engagement involves letting students know about the abundant resources available to them at VCU.  My feeling is that knowledge stimulates engagement, which will eventually lead to success.

From a corporate perspective, I like the part about helping employees see the bigger picture. If HRD professionals help inform and engage the employee in the system, the organization as a whole improves. I think the only downside would be when you are helping employees do this, the assumption is that their own personal/professional goals align with the organization (i.e. that it’s the right fit for the employee and they want to help the organization grow). If the employee comes away from various HRD trainings feeling the need to move on from the organization, it still provides the opportunity for personal growth and learning – which again is what HRD is all about!