Industry research has found that employers are more often concerned with performance gaps in soft skills—skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication—over technical hard skills—skills such as how to use equipment, and performing work tasks and procedures.
Corporate Strategy and Learning Center
An environmental analysis seeks to understand the dynamic needs of workers and the organization itself, considering factors such as organizational culture, working conditions, interpersonal relationships, and the underlying training motivation. The environmental analysis considers both physical and psychosocial factors to develop a “real-world” perspective of the learning initiative and its chances for success.
We do our professional best to create solutions that improve performance, but how do we know whether they actually do?
We may measure improved performance at the event where the performance solution is deployed. We may conduct an assessment of performance improvement later on, just to make sure it sticks. Then we move on to the next project.
Learning professionals must define ways to ensure the performance improvement remains in place, to sustain the business improvement our sponsors and stakeholders expect. Here are some common obstacles that may hide the fact that performance has not improved or is not sustained, and how we can overcome them.
This is part of our ongoing series, Interviews with Learning Leaders.
Bob Pike is an icon in the learning & development industry. No longer affiliated with the eponymous consulting group he founded in 1979, Bob remains a fixture on the talent development speaking circuit. He has authored more than two dozen books about adult learning, including The Master Trainer Handbook. He even has his own Wikipedia page.
Many learning leaders and organizations use the word performance so broadly, so easily, and so frequently, yet with very little intention or follow-through.
Despite its ubiquity in the learning & development space, when most people talk about performance, they're really talking about training. And even when learning leaders are actually talking about performance, for the most part it's in the context of performance management, not performance improvement—a focus on removing all barriers to performance. These well-intentioned people have one or maybe two tools in their learning toolbox to impact workplace performance, and that's just not enough. This is where Abraham Maslow's famous quote comes from: “If all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.”
The learning and development profession is experiencing a sea change in expectations—it's no longer sufficient to merely be the knowledge and skills team, reactively executing demands from other departments.
As the learning function becomes more adept at proving its business value through alignment and business-focused metrics, it's no longer acceptable for other business areas to treat L&D like an employee repair shop. Traditionally, the kneejerk response to any performance issue has been to develop training initiatives. But that is flawed, because as we know, workplace performance is about more than just the performer.
To match these new expectations, learning leaders need to change the way their L&D staff members think about themselves. Rather than being the "learning team," in reality we need to become the "performance team"—the folks that the business can rely on to get to the bottom of performance issues and create integrated, sustainable performance interventions.
Organizations spend billions of dollars every year training their employees, yet according to a 2014 Association for Talent Development (ATD) survey, only 7% of the total training budget is spent on improving the skills of sales teams. Given the universal importance of sales to an organization, many companies are missing a tremendous opportunity to share best practices exhibited by top performers. No matter how sought-after the products and services are, if a sales team isn’t effective, the company is not realizing its full potential.
Strong sales is the engine of any thriving company, and requires its own coaching, mentoring, and development opportunities. The lack of new prospects, movement within the sales pipeline, or ability to close new business may be due to the organization’s inability to develop, prepare, and mentor salespeople within their organization.
Knowing the actual data that drives the success of your learning solutions is one of the best ways to ensure continuation of those training programs, especially if the training return on investment is high and the learning function is perceived to deliver business value.
Pinpointing the exact contributors to success of training initiatives or performance solutions can be tricky if you don't know where to begin, though. Here are some tips for determining the return on investment measure of performance and sifting through the seemingly unending stream of learning data.