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Implementing Performance-Linked Solutions

Thursday, July 31, 2014
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This is the fifth and final article in the Selecting and Implementing HPI Solutions blog series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Clients expect the performance consultant to provide potential solutions for the challenges uncovered in the analysis. The solutions usually start as brainstorms or suggestions that are generated with the client; the client generally builds on the suggestions and adds additional solutions that also might achieve the desired business goals. Most performance consultants identify more than one possible solution for the set of causes identified; offering more than one solution set encourages deeper discussion about each solution’s potential to overcome the influences and achieve the goals.

Busy managers sometimes get trapped into taking the path of least resistance. They want a solution and they want it fast! As Peter Drucker once said, “The search for the one quick fix is a universal human failing.” The most requested solution is usually training. Why? For years, we have trained managers to ask for training as the solution to their problems. After all, we have called ourselves trainers and we work in the training department. It is no wonder that they are confused now when we push back and want to link the solution to the influences and causes of poor performance. Remember, unless the performance consultant uncovers a measurable gap in necessary knowledge and skills, then the recommended solution cannot be a training solution.

So, how does the performance consultant convince the business unit manager to pursue a performance-linked solution and not the expedient (but incorrect) solution? Performance consultants must partner with the manager to solve the problem so that it stays solved. However, this is easier said than done. One helpful tip is to show how previous successes were linked to correctly identifying the root causes and applying the right solutions. Conversely, if the manager has had a performance problem that was not solved by implementing a training program or other quick fix, then this is a good time to help him remember that training cannot solve all problems!

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Provide the evidence from the analysis that shows the performance challenges are caused by a particular set of influences. Add up the costs of applying the wrong solution across the performer group and the lack of achievement of the business goals; contrast the cost of applying the right solution to the performer group so that the business goal is achieved.

Additionally, performance consultants need to ask better questions. Throughout the project, we have to ask questions that look at the issue through a systems view. We must ask questions and analyze the situation from the organizational level (culture, structure, goals, policies, and resources), the process level (job processes, inputs, and outputs), and the performer level (the performer’s capacity, motivation knowledge, and skill sets). By asking questions that uncover influences in these areas, we are setting the manager up to want to solve those issues that the analysis uncovered. We must provide objective data, not subjective feelings, about what is causing a particular performance issue.

Performance consultants can also help the business unit manager choose a performance-linked solution by reminding her that there is no magic wand. Most performance issues have multiple causes and influences and these require multiple solutions. To implement a quick-fix solution is to waste precious resources, and potentially doom the project.

To explore selecting and implementing performance improvement solutions, please join me for ATD’s Selecting and Implementing Performance Improvement Solutions (SIPIS) Certificate program beginning on August 21, in Denver, Colorado!

About the Author

Geri is president and principal consultant of Geri Lopker & Associates LLC. Her international client list includes corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and Fortune 100 companies. Geri has been a performance consultant both as an internal area director of operations for a large healthcare agency, and as an external consultant with clients big and small. Geri has more than 20 years of experience working in the areas of systems, finance, change management, leadership, communication, strategic planning, team building, and customer relations. Geri earned a master's degree in human resources and organization development from the University of San Francisco. She earned the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) certification in 2003.She earned the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) in 2007. She teaches the nationally acclaimed Human Performance Improvement in the Workplace Certificate series. She has also earned the HPI Certificate. She has received the Total Trainer Certificate from OC-ASTD and is senior faculty for the Total Trainer program. Geri is a past president of the International Society for Performance Improvement, Orange County Chapter. She is also a past president of ASTD’s Orange County chapter.

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