Analyzing Performance Problems
The title of today’s post reminds me of the subtitle for R. Mager and P. Pipe’s book – “Or You Really Oughta Wanna”. Yet, it is by far most the opportune time a Performance Consultant (PC) has to get a HPI (Human Performance Improvement) project going. But a word of caution is in order. Please don’t launch into a 15 minute dissertation on the HPI methodology if all they want is a training fix.
Say Yes and …
Never say no to a training request until you know more. The key is to get more time. You do this by conducting a performance cause analysis to determine the nature of the discrepancy. Evidence can be collected from document review examples, deviations, audit observations and follow up “interviews”. Even if a solution begins to form in your mind, stay on the HPI methodology path and let the data show you the proper answer. It’s this data that grants a PC a little bit more time.
A Typical Training Request
Begins with an assumption that a lack of knowledge is somehow missing and that “training” is the right solution. Next, the requestor launches into a list of “required content” and without taking a breath, asks when you can complete the classroom training! Rather than attempting to explain when training is the right answer, stay calm and in your best professional tone use the following phrases:
- Okay, have they been trained before?
- What was that like?
- I see. So more of the “same” training will change the results? In what way?
If they continue to insist, then use my favorite one: Okay, but what will they be doing differently as a result of this training session?
I Need Training for 800 Employees ASAP
A corporate auditor discovered a lack of training records for newly developed Job Aids during a Mock Inspection. So, the easy fix would be to re-train everyone and then produce the records, right? Notice; however, that the solution is biased towards retraining without discovering why the training was missed in the first place. Reframing the request allowed the Performance Consultant to not only find the root cause, but to provide both immediate resolution and long term prevention. The PC never said no to the training request, only that they “wanted to provide the most effective training possible”. The PC’s part was to expedite a Training Root Cause Analysis and solution recommendations as quickly as possible. In the end, the HPI approach delivered the solution far quicker than the traditional training approach was originally planned for and the audit observation was closed before the due date!
NOTE: A more detailed version of this case –“Just Get the Audit Observation Closed Already, Will You?” is now available.
Short Term Value vs. Bottom Line Impact
This situation presented a very real dilemma for the PC. Provide short term value for the VP of Quality (Requestor) and satisfy the goal to close out the audit observation or find the real root cause to determine what the appropriate solution SHOULD be. In theory, there is no dilemma. The choice is obvious. But in practice, for organizations under intense pressure to take immediate action, short term value can be quite attractive. This is exactly where performance analysis provides a balanced approach. Isn’t this what HPI is all about – impacting the bottom line? – VB
Next blog: “But isn’t this still training?”
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