Accountability. One source defines that word as an obligation to accept responsibility. That’s a big word with a heavy meaning, especially in the workplace. Who is responsible for the value of training where you work? Is it the training requester (usually a business unit manager)? Is it the training department (perhaps a subject matter expert or another training leader)? Is the onus on employees to make the best of whatever learning opportunities are offered? Is the responsibility shared by everyone?

Who Makes Training Work?

The answer to that question can be as varied as the workplaces and employees that use training. Some businesses place full responsibility for value of training on the training department. Perhaps they must produce X number of courses per year and process X number of employees through those courses. It becomes a numbers game. If the numbers are met, then “success” is achieved whether employees learn anything or not.

In other businesses, managers are responsible. If employees are not making X widgets in X hours, then the manager is held accountable. The manager, knowing this, tells the training department there is a knowledge problem and tosses the ball to them. The trainer interprets what the manager said and comes up with a course. Employees go through the course. If the number of widgets improves, then the manager determines the training was a success. If the numbers stay the same, the manager is held to account for the failure.

In some workplaces, the responsibility for learning rests on the employee. Employees decide what training they need or want. If they can make a business case for it, then the training is approved.

Shared Accountability Equals Shared Responsibility

The image below shows an accountability grid. In this scenario, the manager, trainer, and student all share accountability and responsibility. The level of each varies at different times, but at one point or another all share the load.

Accountability Diagram

In the planning stage, the manager and trainer collaborate. In a perfect world, the manager expresses the need in business terms. The trainer accurately translates that need into a training program. At the training stage, the trainer uses the program to impart a knowledge or skill to the student. Once training is over, the responsibility falls back on the manager and the student together to be sure the training is used in the workplace to resolve and fill the learning gap.

When planning, training, and implementation work together, then the entire team comes out on top. When everyone is held accountable during the training process, effectiveness is the end result. This figure is included in my book, ROI By Design, which provides more detail about training design and how design relates to accountability.

Do you think the figure shows the ideal training scenario? When accountability and responsibility are shared, does that lead to better outcomes? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear them. If you need help with your training programs, please contact us. We’d would be happy to help. Email or call us to discuss your needs. Call 919.882.2108. E-mail: Twitter: Facebook: Web:

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