When you hear we need a training course on … pay attention! It is by far the most opportune time a Performance Consultant (PC) has to get an 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.
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 can you 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?
Say Yes and …
Never say no to a training request until you know more. The key is to get more time without actually saying you need 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.
Analyses Du Jour: Isn’t It Really All The Same Things?
There’s root cause analysis and gap analysis and now performance cause analysis?
Is there a difference?
Do they use different tools?
It can be overwhelming to decipher through the jargon, no doubt. I think it depends on which industry you come from and whether your focus is a regulatory/quality system point of view or performance consulting perspective. To me, it doesn’t change the outcome. I still want to know why the deviation occurred, how the mistake was made, and /or what allowed the discrepancy to happen. Mix and matching the tools allows me to leverage the best techniques from all.
Why We Love Root Cause Analysis
For starters, it’s FDA friendly and we get to document our compliance with CAPA requirements. It allows us to use tools and feel confident that our “data doesn’t lie”. This bodes well for our credibility with management. And it provides the strategic connection between our solution (as a corrective action) and site quality initiatives thus elevating the importance and quite possibly the priority for completing the corrective action on time.
But You Have To Ask The Right Questions
The consequence? Jumping to the wrong conclusion that automatic re-training or refresher training is the needed solution. Done, checkmark. On to the next problem that needs a root cause analysis. But when the problem repeats or returns with a more serious consequence, management questions why the training did not transfer, or we wonder what’s wrong with the employee – why is s/he not getting this yet?
Given the constant pressure to shrink budgets and improve the bottom line, managers don’t usually allow themselves the luxury of being proactive especially when it comes to knowledge transfer and performance gaps.
So, they tend to fall back on quick-fix solutions that give them a checkmark and “clear their desk” momentarily. For the few times this strategy works, there are twice as many times when those fixes backfire and the unintended consequences are worse.
No Time To Do It Right, But Time To Do It Twice!
Solving the problem quickly and rapidly closing the CAPA allows us to get back to our other pressing tasks. Unfortunately, “band-aids” fall off. The symptom was only “covered up and temporarily put out of sight”, but the original problem wasn’t solved. So now, we must investigate again (spend more time) and dig a little deeper. We have no time to do it right but, we find the time to do it twice. Madness!
Tired Of Repeat Errors – Ask A Performance Consultant To Help You Design A Better Corrective Action
In the article, “Why the Band-Aids Keep Falling Off”, I provide an alternate strategy that emphasizes moving away from events-only focus to exploring the three levels of interaction that influence performance: individual performer, task/process, organizational quality systems. These same three levels are where performance consultants can carry out their best work when supported by their internal customers. The good news is that the first step is the same; it begins with a cause analysis.
The difference is that the corrective action is not a reactive quick fix but a systems approach to correcting the issue and preventing it from showing up again. System-based solutions are the foundation of many HPI/HPT projects that require cross-functional support and collaborative participation across the site/organization. And this is where a PC needs support from senior leaders and/or a sponsor.
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 Cause Analysis and solution recommendations as quickly as possible.
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. If the PC proceeded as requested (directed), the training for 800 employees would not have prevented the deviation from occurring again, leaving the possibility of an FDA investigator discovering the same discrepancy! 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.
Isn’t this what HPI is all about – impacting the bottom line? – VB
READ: “Just Get the Audit Observation Closed Already, Will You?” to learn what the PC discovered, how she was able to calculate the wasted cost of continuing with the request for training, and what steps were recommended to prevent a recurrence.
Performance Analysis: the lean approach to solving performance problems
Who is Vivian Bringslimark?
Interested in learning how to flip a training request into a performance consulting project?
(c) HPIS Consulting, Inc.