If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer …

A hammer is the right tool to drive a nail into wood or dry wall, etc. supporting the adage “right tool for the right job”. Until the closet you installed comes off the wall and you realize that perhaps you needed screws instead or an additional widget to support the anticipated load. It isn’t until “in-use” performance feedback is collected that the realization of a different tool and additional support mediums are needed. Providing training (as in formal instruction) as the solution to a performance issue is analogous to using a hammer for every job.

Site leaders want business partners who can help them succeed with organizational goals, yearly objectives and solve those pesky performance issues. The more valuable the “trainer-now-known-as-performance-consultant is in that desire, the more access to strategic initiatives. So, the more you want to be recognized as a business partner to the site leaders, you need to continue to build your “solutions toolbox” that includes more than delivering a training event or LMS completion report.

As we begin to wrap up this series on gaining management support, we’ve been exploring how to forge relationships with line managers and earn their trust by being trustworthy. In the blog (Are you worthy of your line partner’s trust?), I asked if you were also trust worthy as a Performance Consultant (PC).

Do you have the necessary competencies to tackle the additional performance solutions? A logical next step is to review the plethora of literature that has been published on the multiple roles for a Performance Consultant. These include Analyst, Change Manager, Solutions Specialist, and Evaluator. There are more, but let’s start with an overview of these four.

A trainer with strong instructional design skill could argue that s/he has loads of experience with 3 of the 4 roles sans solution specialist. To that end, ADDIE has been the methodology and the foundation for successful training events for years. A sound training design analyzes need first and incorporates change management elements and includes evaluation activities for level 1(reaction) and level 2 (learning) of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model. So how hard could it be to master the role of Performance Consultant? Doesn’t every solution have a training component to it anyway?

Maybe and maybe not. 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.

The PC wears the hat of Analyst when working the business analysis and performance analysis portion of the HPI methodology honing in with the skill of asking the right questions and being able to analyze all of the contributing factors for performance causes. This is more than a needs analysis for designing a course.

The Solution Specialist role relies heavily upon systems thinking skills and is already way outside the power point training solution. As a problem solver working the probable causes from the Performance Cause Analysis, s/he opens the toolbox and can look past the “training design tray” into other alternative performance solutions. There is much more than a hammer in their toolbox. NOTE:  For more details on those types of solutions, navigate to paragraph “HPI Approach” within the blog link).  Implementation experience grows with each executed solution and a great PC also develops good project management skills.

During implementation, the PC may also have to wear a dual hat of Change Manager.  Process changes, culture change and more require strong facilitation skills and process consultation HPI roles for Perf Consulttechniques to manage the different phases of change depending on the nature of the solution and the size of the change impact.

And the Evaluator role surfaces at or near end of project implementation as the solution launches and goes live. Feedback collection, standards setting and re-assessing the performance gap to determine success or additional gap analysis.

The role of Performance Consultant requires more variety of skills and depth of project experiences. While training solutions are part of the PC toolkit, a training manager’s toolbox typically does not offer other performance solutions. It’s usually a hammer when a swiss army knife is what’s needed.  –VB

References: William J. Rothwell Editor, ASTD Models for Human Performance Improvement: Roles, Competencies, and Outputs. 2nd Ed, 1999.