In this second blog from the “HPI: Making it Work for Compliance Trainers” series, I continue the business partner exploration. Need the first one? Get caught up: What’s the difference between Trainers and Performance Consultants?
Three Consulting Styles Let’s start with the Pair of Hands. This style of consulting resembles more or less the contractor for hire or long term temporary employee; sometimes referred to as the permanent temp much to the chagrin of those who hold those positions. Here the client (or internal customer) retains control of the project from problem identification to solution deployment. The consultant implements those decisions as if s/he were an extension of the client’s staff. Hence the expression, an extra pair of hands to delegate the work to.
There’s the Expert. Here the consultant assumes most of the control for the project. The client can still make suggestions while the consultant makes recommendations for the best solution selection. Ultimately, the expert-consultant decides on the course of action and tells the client what’s the best path forward. In this type of consulting relationship, the client wants the expertise of the consultant.
The third is Collaborator. This is where the consultant utilizes his/her specialized knowledge and field experience and leverages the client’s knowledge of the operations, including processes and procedures, and the cultural factors. In this relationship style, 1 + 1 = 3, representing a more synergistic approach to problem solving. Decisions and implementation plans become shared responsibilities. This style is often referred to as a business partnership and it is really the only one the changes performance.
Internal vs. External Consultant I’ve been both and have had success in implementing HPI projects in both environments. There are pros and cons and tradeoffs. Whether you are internal to the organization or external (an outsider), Compliance Trainers need to expand their skills sets if they are going to move from a “pair of hands” to expert and eventually to trusted business partner. The new competencies to be developed are:
- Analysis (both Training Needs and Performance Needs) – See If Training Isn’t the Right Answer
- Implementing Performance Solutions (not just training solutions) – See Isn’t This Still Training?
- Change Management (not just Change Control/Doc Control but how to manage what I call the “People Side of Change”
- Measurement and Evaluation (recognizing that these are not the same thing)
Take ACTion Now! In their 2005 book, Strategic Business Partners, Dana Gaines Robinson and Jim Robinson, recommend that transitioning trainers take ACTion now. ACT stands for Access, Credibility and Trust. However, from my experience, the steps don’t necessarily follow in that order. It’s more like establishing your Credibility first, earning their Trust next, and then you’ll be granted Access to strategic opportunities.
Oh, but where to start? A good place is to show your performance worth. Recall earlier I listed developing performance solutions as a new competency? A training solution closes a knowledge and skill gap, wonderful. A performance solution may include a training piece, but it also closes a gap in Job Performance which in turn can close a gap in a Process Performance and resolve a gap in Business Results. That’s what a HPI project/solution does differently than a training solution and it certainly illustrates why those new competencies are needed. Being able to show this kind of impact on the business as a result of the work a Performance Consultant does goes a long way to earning business leaders trust. –VB