This new series – Gaining Management Support – focuses on credibility, trust, access and how these 3 concepts impact relationship management. In the first blog of this series; First make friends with line management, I blogged about establishing a working relationship with line management.
While the relationship is forming, both parties can begin to share information about each other’s area of responsibilities. The Performance Consultant (PC) learns more about the manager’s department: work processes that are not robust; performance needs that are both urgent and on-going and tied to “important” performance requirements. During the dialogue, listen for internal challenges such as supplier snafus, resource constrained hick-ups, conflicting policies and procedures and other projects that are resulting in more to-do’s. Find out if they are also managing regulatory commitments and working on closing out CAPAs and deviations related to training, performance issues or “Operator Error” mistakes. These are all sources of entry points to move the relationship to potential partner status.
Partnering implies a two way exchange. The PC also shares information about HPI/ HPT (Human Performance Improvement/Technology) at a level of depth that matches the individual’s interest and need at the time. Remember, while your goal is to educate them about HPI, you don’t want to lecture to them or overwhelm them with even more for their work load. According to Mary Board, author of Beyond Transfer of Training: Engaging systems to improve performance; the PC is striving to build a close working relationship that over time can lead to more strategic performance improvement work. It is not only about getting projects.
However, requests for help/support are bound to surface. To demonstrate support and strengthen the desire to partner, a PC can follow up on discussions by sending additional literary sources such as articles, white papers and blogs from industry thought leaders. Another popular activity is to pitch in to help meet a deadline or rebalance their workload. Mini-projects are certain to follow next. It is an excellent way to move the relationship to partner status. Early conversations around partnering should include:
- purpose of working together
- benefits of shared task; shared outcomes
- role clarification
- partnering process explanation and agreement
Keep in mind; however, that it is a JOINT undertaking and not a delegation of task to a direct report or a hired temporary employee. This is where the consulting side of the partnership can begin; leading him/her through decisions and actions using the HPI methodology says Broad.
Technical Trainer or Performance Consultant wanna-be?
As the traditional role of technical trainer evolves into Performance Consultant, the skills needed are evolving as well to keep up with management expectations for alignment with business needs. To that end, Beverly Scott, author of Consulting on the Inside: An internal consultant’s guide to living and working inside organizations, suggests that internal consultants re-tool with some new skill sets:
- Know the business. Tie solutions and align results to real business issues that add value. Get to know finances.
- Identify performance gaps before management does or becomes the focus of a CAPA corrective action.
- Become a systems thinker. HPI is all about systemic performance improvement.
- Build skills for the multiple roles a PC performs. Become known as a change agent, systems thinker, learning strategist.
- Pay attention to trends; talk about them. Watch for relevance for the organization.
“The ability to give advice as a consultant comes from trust and respect, which are rooted in the relationship”. (Beverly Scott, p.61, 2000). – VB