Career Compass

HR's Role in Developing Talent with Laurie McIntosh

Episode Summary

66% of workers ages 18-24 ranked learning new skills as the third-most important perk when evaluating new job opportunities. In this episode of Career Compass, hosts Vernon Williams and Kevin Abbed speak with SHRM HR expert Laurie McIntosh on how Training and Development programs are a win-win for the employees and the company. Learn what potential learning opportunities might be available to you or that you can bring to your organization.

Episode Notes

66% of workers ages 18-24 ranked learning new skills as the third-most important perk when evaluating new job opportunities. In this episode of Career Compass, hosts Vernon Williams and Kevin Abbed speak with SHRM HR expert Laurie McIntosh on how Training and Development programs are a win-win for the employees and the company. Learn what potential learning opportunities might be available to you or that you can bring to your organization.

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Episode Transcription

Vernon Williams: Welcome back to season five of Career Compass, a podcast from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the SHRM Foundation. Career Compass prepares future leaders today for better workplaces tomorrow.

Kevin Abbed: As the voice of All Things Work, SHRM supports students and emerging professionals with advice, information, and resources for every step of your career.

Vernon Williams: Designed for the student or emerging professional, Career Compass delivers timely, relevant, and critical conversations about work to help succeed in your career journey. Thank you for joining us for this episode. My name is Vernon Williams, and I will be your co-host.

Kevin Abbed: My name is Kevin Abbed, and I will also be your co-host. During this episode, we'll be joined by SHRM's very own HR expert, Laurie McIntosh, to discuss HR's role in training and developing employees to achieve their maximum potential. Also, just so you know, this episode is valid for professional development credit or PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. We'll provide the code later in the episode. With that, let's get started.

Vernon Williams: Kevin, its pretty cool that we are able to get Laurie to chat with us, because SHRM offers a ton of developmental opportunities for staff. I know some of those will come up in today's conversation, but have you've been able to take advantage of any of the trainings that SHRM offers, or any other trainings outside of SHRM?

Kevin Abbed: Yeah, there are actually a couple, and these were all suggested by either people in HR or my manager, which was awesome that they wanted me to get developed. The People Manager Qualification offered by SHRM was probably some of the best training I've ever had, either in school or professionally. Just because it gave me the opportunity to see where I was going to be in the next couple of years, and if I was going to be managing people, how to go about that. That's not really something you learn in a classroom. So, it was awesome to be able to get that training firsthand.

Another thing that definitely comes to mind is LinkedIn Learning. I have taken a lot of time to hone in on certain skills that I feel are my... we'll call them points of weakness. Excel, for example. It's not something I used to pride myself on in college, but after being able to utilize LinkedIn Learnings in Excel and Advanced Excel, I feel like if I lost my mouse for a day, I'd be able to swimmingly get around.

Vernon Williams: Yeah, I really echo what you were saying about the PMQ, the People Manager Qualification. I took that one as well. The way that it's set up with the little video episodes that seemed just like TV dramas, and those sorts of things, was really cool and made it exciting. Another one that I had done was the Inclusive Workplace Credential, which I enjoyed, not only because it taught me a lot about being inclusive as an individual, but also how to set organizations up for success, and creating environments that make sure that everybody feels included.

Those are a couple of things that I've done on my own as a part of an employee for SHRM. Like I said, I know we're going to get into some of these today. Without further ado, let's bring in today's guest. Laurie has over 20 years of experience as an HR practitioner with industry experience in healthcare, consumer packaged goods, and banking.

She is currently a member of the HR team at the Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM, and works at our headquarters here in Alexandria, Virginia. In her role, she focuses on employee experience and helping employees maximize their potential. She received her master's degree in HR Management from Capella University and holds her SHRM-SCP and CAE designations. With that, Career Compass would like to warmly welcome Laurie McIntosh.

Laurie McIntosh: Thank you both for the invitation, and it's my pleasure to join all of you, and share some stories and insights today.

Vernon Williams: Well, you know we can't wait, so let's go ahead. HR has so many career paths. You probably have heard some of our previous episodes that touched on a few of those. Given all of the different areas of HR, what do you love most about working in training and development?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah, that's a great question to kick off with. I've always loved helping people maximize their potential. When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be a librarian. Okay, who thinks that? But clearly I didn't become a librarian, but the premise of helping people learn is how I'm wired. So, throughout my HR career, I've worked in several areas.

I started as an HR coordinator and then got a chance to move into a recruiter role, and then that moved into a generalist role where I was able to get my hands into a lot of areas, but I gravitated towards the training function, leading new employee orientation and training staff on a variety of topics. To me, there's just something really gratifying about helping people in this fashion, and seeing how they get that promotion or they're able to leverage that technology better.

I've also been an HR manager. Then, I had the opportunity to focus full-time on creating training programs for management, service recovery programs. I really enjoyed that, and I not only designed programs, but facilitated the training. So, I'm saying I loved all this. Then, I took an interesting turn in my career and actually came to SHRM, and worked as an employee for SHRM as a field services director. So, I supported and promoted membership in several states, and I did that for many years.

That brought me from Iowa, if we have any Iowans listening to the podcast, where I grew up, to SHRM headquarters here in Alexandria. I worked on the membership team for many years, and I love what we do here at SHRM, but I came to a crossroads in my career, and I felt the pull back to being a full-time HR practitioner.

So, I had the opportunity, the awesome opportunity, to come to the HR team here with a specific focus on learning and development. That brings me to where I am today. Here, I feel I can make a difference by equipping employees to support our vision of building a world of work that works for all.

Kevin Abbed: Laurie, that's such an amazing background, and it's so wild that you wanted to be a librarian when you were a kid. At the end of the day, it just meant you wanted to help people learn. I think going into HR, and especially what you do now, is continuing to contribute to people's learning. Next for me, with the war for talent increasing, and companies trying their hardest to retain top employees, what are your thoughts on reskilling and upskilling current employees rather than going external for hiring needs?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah, this is really critical for a lot of reasons. In building engagement, building self-satisfaction, and it costs less. You can buy or build your talent. You can buy, or recruit and bring in new people, or you can build your talent from within. As we come out of Covid, we know that the world of work has changed. Hybrid workplaces, full-time remote positions, technology changed, everybody's using Zoom, and that's the big joke.

It also gave people time to reevaluate what they wanted to do, and their career goals. With this reset, employers have had to find ways to retain those top performers. Now, it wasn't that we didn't do it before, but it really has resonated now with Covid. Upskilling and reskilling can be considered the best way to win that war on talent. People want more of their jobs because of that, than ever before.

They want those real opportunities to improve and get professional development, and of course, greater work-life integration. But when we upskill or reskill those current employees, it's really a win-win for both the employer and the employee. When we invest in an employee, it creates that stickiness, they become more engaged, and if they're more engaged, they're more productive and they treat your customers better. Who doesn't want that?

We want people to be more engaged and more excited about coming in every day, and giving them those opportunities. The key here, I'd say, is we must continue to build a workforce that's ready to meet the demands of the future. We as HR practitioners lead the charge to develop talent in the way the organization and community needs it.

Both, Kevin, you, and Vernon had mentioned earlier on some of the things we do here at SHRM. I just want to mention a couple of things that we do for our employees, to give you an idea of what organizations may offer. Large or small, things might look a little different, but to give you an idea, here at SHRM, we offer a wide variety of opportunities because it's got to be flexible and based on what a person's needs are.

In school, you have the curriculum and you had to follow certain paths. Well, here it's more about, "What do you need now or later to be effective?" So, we offer ongoing learning with tuition reimbursement, if you wanted to go back to get that additional degree. Funding for professional development programs.

Kevin, you mentioned LinkedIn Learning. We provide... if you don't know what LinkedIn learning is... it's on-demand training through literally thousands of courses. So, if someone needs something as simple as a quick overview of how to create a pivot table, you can do that, or you could take a full learning path on leadership development, and everything in between. It's really an amazing resource that our staff have access to, on demand.

We create programs and deliver them. We allow staff to become members in professional organizations to build their knowledge. We have compliance-related training, of course, and then we have for our staff, even access to the suite of SHRM's educational offerings. Wow, okay, I think I feel like a commercial for SHRM here right now, but my point here is that we offer a wide variety of learning opportunities. Whether it's very job-specific, or understanding how to become a leader, we want to help.

We want to give you those resources, and we leverage different delivery models. Whether it's instructor-led training, a webinar, or e-learning training, it will help to meet your needs. We all run pretty hard and fast here, but we know that learning is really important, so we want to offer it in a variety of ways. Buy or build talent? The answer is really both, but you should look internally first and leverage those that are already dedicated to the mission of your organization.

Vernon Williams: Laurie, we know that people have different learning styles, and you just talked a little bit about some of the common tools that might be available to support employees. Now, attach some of those tools or different training styles and methods to the individuals. By that, I mean talk to us a little bit about what development for a newer employee looks like, with somebody with maybe less experience versus somebody with more experience, and how they can get the training and the skills that they need to develop. What's it like for a newer employee with less experience versus a more experienced employee, when it comes to training and development?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah, I'd say the premise is the same, but the plan is different. Those early in their career have different needs. So, the key is to really understand and customize their development, find out how they learn best, and then create a plan. If I were to compare it to being a SHRM member, a SHRM member, if you're early career, your first job right out of college, you're an emerging professional, and you've gotten experience in HR through your schoolwork and internships, but until you really get into an organization, you'll be learning all sorts of things.

So, your training could come from someone mentoring you, on-the-job training, going to different programs that are offered. But then, if we go back to the member type of analogy I'm talking about, SHRM provides those early emerging professionals with templates and tools for their job, because that's what they need.

But, if you look at a chief HR officer, they, from a membership, want leadership strategy and working with their peers. So, their offerings are very different. Also, from a learning perspective, it's going to be incredibly different than somebody who's early-career. But back to learning, really the key is to individualize the plan to their needs, and make sure that it's varied, and make sure that it fits what they're actually needing to accomplish in their role.

A lot of times, just-in-time training is better. You might learn something when you first come on to the team, but you don't get a chance to do it until several weeks later, and you might have forgotten it between those timeframes. So, having the ability to have just-in-time training also can be very valuable, especially for somebody who's early-career.

Kevin Abbed: Well, I love that reference to just-in-time training. That's not something I've ever heard of. Especially, I think about some of the internships and jobs I had, where you just have a crash course of a week of just, "Here's everything you're going to learn in this job." Then, four weeks in they're like, "Hey, do you remember that one thing that we haven't done yet, that we taught you in the first day?" Being able to have that training beforehand is definitely super-helpful. A follow-up to Vernon's question, what is it like working with teams versus individuals to improve overall skill set, and then cohesion within a team?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah. When you're looking at a team, somebody will come into the training with varied levels of experience. Some might not have any, some are going to have some. So, that makes it a little more challenging. You have to cater to making sure that you're meeting everybody's needs. But when you are looking at those specific skill sets, training in a team setting allows for everyone to hear the same message.

Plus, you have a built-in network that you can reach out to should you have questions. So, after the training, someone that had been in there with me and say, "Did you remember what they did here?" You can build that camaraderie, if you will, if it's people from different parts of the organization. That part, this approach brings the cohesion that is so necessary for a team.

But I'll also mention, I do a lot of coaching with teams to help create awareness of their individual strengths, what they do really well, and how those contribute to the overall success of the team. Through discussion and activities, the teams can learn how to eliminate perceptions they've had of why a person acts the way they do.

Overall, it can make a team even stronger, because you've had some really important conversations about this particular situation and, "Why I did this." You understand how people are wired. They produce, then, at a higher level, and they're more satisfied with their jobs. So, that team coaching does bring that group together in a way that if you do individual training, it doesn't. So, there's a place and time for both.

Vernon Williams: The athlete in me always loves to learn how to make teams even stronger. I want to pause just for a second to take care of a housekeeping item. Those of you listening to this podcast who are seeking professional development credit, this program is valid for 0.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. The code to redeem your PDC is 23-HR342.

Please note that this code will expire on October 19th, 2023. Again, that code is the number two, the number three, dash, the letter H as in 'hotel', the letter R as in 'Romeo', the number three, the number four, and the number two. Okay. Jumping back into the podcast, Laurie, can you tell us how you create culture that embraces continuous learning?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah, absolutely. You're really shaping the future of work when you talk about this, and it really ties to SHRM's vision of building a better workplace for a better world. When you think about this, and building that culture that embraces continuous learning, you can't just say, "Okay, we're going to be a culture of learning." It comes out of a lot of planning, a lot of working with the organization, to create a collaborative learning environment where staff can develop the skills they need to succeed, not just today, but looking to the future.

That upskilling we were talking about, it will help to drive innovation and growth for the future, but everything ties together. So, learning must closely align with the business strategies and the organizational value. It really just needs to be just part of that natural discussion or a way of life, if you will. Employees should always be curious about developing. Once you start to have that, is you go through the whole change-management process.

As you start to announce those things, then you put your money where your mouth is, and you start to show that these programs are coming through, and then you just continue to offer, and it just becomes a part of the daily workings of the organization then. You really can't, again, as I said at the beginning, you can't just say, "We have a culture of learning," because it's much, much more that it's embedded in the strategy of the organization.

Vernon Williams: Continuing on that, I'm sure we've all worked with employees who either feel like they already know everything, or may not even feel like they have time to engage in learning opportunities. How do you work with an employee who may not be open to professional development?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah. That's an interesting question because with that, why is the person not interested in learning? Is my first question that comes to me. I think that the manager is key here, because through any of this learning that we've been talking about today, your manager should be considered your coach.

They help to direct your work and what you're doing, you go to them when you have questions, but when you're talking about your professional development, they're your coach. Also, your HR team, your training folks, are there as well. What you need to do is find out, what are their career goals? How does that relate to the position they're currently in? What training do they need to get to that next level?

Maybe, you can get them out of that, where they're passive, and get them excited about it. Because that's what you want to do, you want to retain that employee and keep them engaged and excited, so they'll continue to produce at a high level. But honestly, maybe when you find that out, maybe the person isn't the right fit for your organization. Then, you can work on what is their next part of their career, and help them find it, but it could be outside the organization.

Kevin Abbed: Laurie, going off that, a common interview question that prospective employees ask is, what does success in the role look like? For HR professionals working in training and development, what measurements do you all use to determine the impact on an individual employee's teams and the organization as a whole?

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah. Common metrics are, looking at things like business goals. Are we able to achieve business goals more effectively, quicker, faster? Performance review ratings, have they gotten better after someone has gone through training? Employee engagement scores can go up, because if they are learning and they're feeling more productive in their role, they'll be more engaged. Those are just some ratings to name a few, but think about other things.

Stay interviews, not exit interviews. Stay interviews are those that you have, you talk to people who are currently in the organization to see how they're doing. So, you can counter any issue that might be coming up, and fix it before it gets to the point where they say, "I'm leaving." Stay interviews are important.

Also, conducting evaluations after training to see if there's been learning that has occurred. Conducting pre and post surveys of training really determines if the training was successful, in looking at all the things you want. Some of those are much quicker and easy to run the metrics on.

The other ones, like are you meeting business goals in a different fashion, or are managers more effective in helping their staff, those take a little bit more time, but they can certainly be tracked. That's where you can find out, then, on an individual and on a team level, if those types of things are working.

Vernon Williams: Laurie, just a couple of more questions before we let you go. Could you give us a sense of what day-to-day life is like for an employee who's working in human resources, specifically training and development? What are you doing when you come in? Who are you meeting with? What are you working on? How does your day wrap up? Just give us that bird's eye view of what a typical day might be.

Laurie McIntosh: That could be, and anybody does this as you're starting your work day, you want to check your calendar, see what's up for the day, make sure you're all prepared for meetings you have. It could be working on doing some instructional design, creating a training program. It could be working to ensure that a training session is placed in the system, and is ready for people to enroll in it.

It could be developing communications for announcing the different programs that are coming out. It could be watching for enrollment, it's answering questions from employees. So, it could be a wide variety of things from that standpoint. It could be facilitating an all-day training course, for example. Then, within that all, anything can come up and change your whole plan for the day, and you have to readjust and get through it.

What's really satisfying to me is, again, making sure that people are getting access to that training that they're interested in, and that they find it very valuable to them. Whether it's the very mundane tasks of adding the program into the database so people can enroll, or printing out an enrollment, a registration sheet for the instructor to have, or developing the plan, it all wraps up into this just really cool thing called learning.

Vernon Williams: It sounds like never a dull moment [inaudible]. I know a lot of people often don't want to be sitting down doing routine things. So, this is something that, if you're a student or emerging professional, you're looking for something that's going to have you going in a number of different directions and keeping you excited every day to come to work, it sounds like this could be the thing.

Laurie McIntosh: Yeah, that's right.

Vernon Williams: All right, last question, Laurie, we'll get you out of here on this one. What advice or parting tips would you offer to students and emerging professionals looking to pursue a career in training and development?

Laurie McIntosh: Well, if you're interested in training and development, I would guess you're probably a lifelong learner yourself. Harness that passion, taking everything you can from your instructors if you're still in school. When you're in that role or you're wanting to get into that role, go above and beyond, and set yourself apart from others. That's always going to be the key.

The war for talent is real, and so you've got to find what differentiates you from everybody else. Be curious. Don't hesitate to take a generalist-type role that might have an element of training in it, and work into that. That's really how I came into it and realized that that's where my place was, to be in training and development. So, from there, I became a voracious learner. As a SHRM member, you know about all the great information and access we have.

So, leveraging that, through trial and error too, understanding that this is really what you want to do. So, be curious, be disruptive, be innovative, ask questions, and sometimes you just have to, again, if you're in that generalist role, just have a little bit of patience and take in everything you can about training and development that you can see from your purview in that HR generalist role, and make it happen.

Vernon Williams: Laurie, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, your journey and so forth about training and development, and all things human resources. We really appreciate your time.

Laurie McIntosh: Well, you're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Kevin Abbed: With that, we're going to bring this episode of Career Compass to a close. We'd like to thank SHRM and the SHRM Foundation for providing us with this platform. More importantly, we'd like to thank you all for joining us, and we hope you stay with us throughout the season as we discuss more topics like this episode.

Vernon Williams: For more exclusive content, resources, and tools to help you succeed in your career journey, consider joining SHRM as a student member. You can visit us at to learn more about being a part of a community of over 300,000 HR and business leaders who impact the lives of over 115 million employees worldwide.

Kevin Abbed: If you liked what you heard, follow or subscribe to Career Compass on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Vernon Williams: Lastly, are you looking for more work and career-related podcasts? Check out All Things Work and Honest HR at Thank you again for listening, and we'll catch you on the next episode of Career Compass.