May 2018
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TD Magazine

An Inside Job

Companies with dedicated performance improvement staff have a more effective process for improving performance than those without.

Six in 10 organizations have a performance improvement process, which is a systemic process of identifying the root causes of performance issues and implementing solutions to resolve them, but they are split about who takes responsibility for implementing it. That's according to Organizational Performance Improvement: Methods and Skills to Drive Business Success, an ATD Research report sponsored by Allego.

The report found that, of companies with performance improvement processes, nearly half (48 percent) have dedicated performance improvement staff. Nearly as many (47 percent) do not have dedicated employees on staff; employees at these companies perform the process as needed, but it is not their primary responsibility. Interestingly, organizations with dedicated performance improvement teams are significantly more likely to consider their performance improvement process highly effective.

Having skilled staff responsible for performance improvement is obviously advantageous. According to the report, 42 percent of respondents felt that a lack of staff with performance improvement knowledge is their organization's biggest barrier to implementing an effective performance consulting approach.


However, organizations without dedicated performance improvement staff do have options. First, they can partner with external consultants. Half of organizations—including those with dedicated performance improvement staff—partner with external consultants (including suppliers) for some performance improvement projects. Of that group, two-thirds indicated that they choose to partner with these consultants because they bring experience from a wider range of organizations than internal ones can.

Second, companies can consider developing performance improvement skills in existing staff. When asked about the most important skills an individual should have to be an effective performance improvement professional, 51 percent of respondents cited skills in analysis, followed by skills in communication and consulting (45 percent). These skills make it easier not only to work with others and obtain the information necessary to carry out a project, but also to draw conclusions from that information and identify solutions for performance issues.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a research analyst at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), where she prepares surveys, analyzes data, and writes research reports and short case studies. Her previous positions at ATD include human capital specialist and communities of practice coordinator.

Prior to working for ATD, Shauna was a senior editorial assistant at Wiley in San Francisco, California. Shauna received a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley, and she is currently attending the University of Connecticut remotely to obtain a master's degree in survey research.

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