Human Performance Improvement is the art and science of helping organizations, departments, teams, and individuals to understand and achieve business goals. This involves getting a clear picture of the goals, the performers’ current and desired performance, and discovering causes that are inhibiting performance and influences that are enhancing performance.
Once these are identified, a performance consultant helps the organization to choose and implement the correct solutions that helps workers achieve the desired level of performance and reach the business goals. The organization must then evaluate the results and take care to implement the change management approaches that will help the performers sustain the new level of performance.
Performance consultants play many roles, including analyst, advisor, solution selector/implementer, evaluator, and change manager. The performance solution selector role guides the choice of the appropriate solutions to close the identified performance gaps. The performance consultant may work with a solution designer and a solution implementer, or may complete all these roles in partnership with the business unit manager or leader.
What conditions does a performance consultant face when selecting appropriate performance solutions?
First, the performance consultant must analyze the selected unit to understand the current and desired performance. Unfortunately, most organizations desire a “quick fix” and are less interested in investing in the analysis of the situation and the myriad of causes for their organization’s current level of performance. Often, the business unit manager just wants a training implemented in hopes that training will solve the problem.
This approach is a lot like dropping soiled clothes off at the dry cleaner or laundry, and picking clothes up at the end of the day. Nothing would be ready in such a short amount of time! Similarly, there is no quick fix to performance improvement. Performers in most organizations are in work systems where there are many causes and influences for the current state of performance.
Second, performance consultants really want to help, and this may lead to choosing and applying a solution that may not be the right solution. Most have a bias towards action—there is pressure to do something fast! This approach may or may not help; just as likely, applying the wrong solution will impede long-term success.
Third, performance consultants must be able to prioritize the root causes and influences, match the best solutions to the causes, and then creatively design sustainable solutions. We must articulate to the business unit managers that training is not the answer to every performance problem. We must also help business unit managers understand that they are key to implementing the right solutions; the performance consultant cannot solve the performance problems without them.
Part 2 of this five-part blog series will explore creating an “influence hypothesis” that helps the performance consultant map the solutions discovered in the analysis.
To discover more about performance improvement solutions and the performance consultant role, please join me for the Selecting and Implementing Performance Improvement Solutions Certificate program beginning on December 1, in New York, NY.