Talent Development and Workplace Learning Blogs

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  • 02 Nov 2017 1:28 PM | Pi Wen Looi (Administrator)

    A big thank you to those of you who submitted nominations for the Champions of Learning Awards. We have received many nominations from training professionals and organizations in the Sacramento region.

    Those who submitted can expect to hear from us within the next week for any additional information requests.

    An independent panel of judges from other ATD chapters throughout the country will be selecting the award winners from the following categories:

    • Best Practices in Talent Development
    • Champions of Learning Leadership
    • Outstanding Talent Development Contributor

    See you at our December Awards Dinner and let's celebrate and learn together!

    Register for the December Champions of Learning Awards Dinner today!

     

  • 29 Oct 2017 4:07 PM | Pi Wen Looi (Administrator)

    By Allison Horak

    Each year, ATD chapter leaders from around the U.S. gather in Washington, D.C. to share ideas and learn best practices; it’s called ALC (ATD Chapter Leaders Conference). At ATD Sacramento, we are proud that we have a precedent of being a highly engaged chapter, who sends several board members annually to the conference. This year, five of your board members attended:

    • Allison Horak, President 2017
    • Sarah Crawford, Co-Director of Programs 2017 and incoming President 2018
    • Casey Field, Director of Membership, 2017, 2018
    • Rosalind Sago, Volunteer Coordinator 2017 and Director of Programs 2018
    • Kim Geil, Finance Associate 2017 and Director of Finance 2018

    At ALC, there are keynote speakers and breakout sessions, each with a different topic/focus (and, there’s free food!). The five of us usually attended different sessions, trying to glean as much pertinent information as possible to make 2018 a successful year for our chapter. Sarah and I each submitted a proposal to speak at the conference—and each were chosen! It was truly a privilege to represent our chapter on the national level. Here’s what our two sessions were about:

    • Allison's session: Tech Tools for Improving Board Communication and Efficiency
    • Sarah's session: Make your Chapter Networking Programs Less Awkward, More Fun, and Informational

    Both sessions were very well attended, and we both received a lot of positive feedback from other TD professionals.

    If you think you’d like to be involved with volunteering for the chapter, we’re always looking for people to help with programs (helping at events with various tasks) and membership (making phone calls welcoming new members). Please email our chapter at mail@astdsac.org  to express interest or find out more information.

    We look forward to an exciting 2018 with you all.



  • 15 Sep 2017 7:38 AM | Pi Wen Looi (Administrator)
    What are Champions of Learning Awards?

    ATD Sacramento launched the Champions of Learning Awards to recognize and thank outstanding learning and development professionals and learning organizations in the Sacramento region (El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties). This is the second year we are recognizing the champions in employee learning and development. There are three categories of awards:

    • Best Practices in Talent Development
    • Champions of Learning Leadership
    • Outstanding Talent Development Contributor
    Why should my organization apply?
    • It’s an opportunity for you to showcase a great project, an innovative strategy, or best practices that can benefit all learners.
    • It shows your employees that you care. Providing effective learning opportunities shows your organization’s commitment to its employees.
    • It’s a way to acknowledge and celebrate your organization’s training team for all the effort they put into making effective learning a priority in your organization. Celebrate their hard work and success.
    • It’s rewarding. Being recognized as a champion of learning feels good. You can share your success with others via an immediate press release.
    Who is eligible?

    Public and private organizations from all industries, independent consultants, and coaches in the Sacramento Region (El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties) are eligible.

    Specific guidelines as well as evaluation criteria for each award category are detailed on the associated application. 

    Click here to download the applications. All questions should be directed to mail@astdsac.org. 

    When is the deadline for application?

    The deadline to submit nominations has been extended to Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 5:00 p.m. PST

    Email completed application forms to mail@astdsac.org. We will acknowledge the receipt of your application and follow up with you within three business days.

    How do I apply?

    Download the application forms here. Specific guidelines and evaluation criteria for each award category are detailed on the associated application. 

    Email your completed form to mail@astdsac.org by 5:00 p.m. PST on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

    Can my company submit an application in more than one category?

    Yes. You just need to complete the appropriate forms and email them to mail@astdsac.org by 5:00 p.m. PST on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

    How will the winners be selected?

    An independent panel of judges will select winners based on a rubric that we provide them. These judges are talent development professionals from other ATD chapters throughout the country. All entries will be “scrubbed” for blind judging.

    When will I know the results?

    All winners will be informed via email by November 30, 2017. 

    What do winners receive?

    Winners will be recognized at the Champions of Leadership Awards Dinner on December 14, 2017 at the UC Davis MIND Auditorium. All winners will receive a Champion of Leadership Award plaque and a press release kit for immediate publication.

    When is the awards ceremony?

    The awards ceremony is on Thursday, December 14, 2017, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., at the UC Davis MIND Auditorium.

     

  • 31 Jul 2017 10:14 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Bruce Winner, Government Training Academy, winnerb@losrios.edu, 916.563.3232, www.losrios-training.org

    Five Rapid Routes to Rudimentary Nudging:

    From 11 minutes… to well, a bit more

    We are all busy, but we can’t afford to stop learning.  As a training professional, you are acutely aware of this.  With this in mind, read on for five ways to learn more about Nudging and how you can use this new science-based method to influence, persuade, or nudge your training participants to take positive action.

    1)   What if you have only 11 minutes to spare? 

    Check out this short (11 minute) YouTube Video, “Influence: The Secrets of Persuasion”, from Robert Cialdini about six ways to influence or persuade.

    Cialdini is often referred to as the “Godfather of Influence” for his long involvement in the field and impact on how businesses and public organizations seek to influence others. Cialdini has sold over three million copies of his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion which has been on the New York Times bestseller list many times and won numerous awards. His six principles of persuasion are presented in this short video. In his new book Pre-Suasion (2016), he introduces even more nudging concepts. I recommend his books as well, but even with 11 minutes of your time you will get a great introduction to the power of persuasion or nudging.

    2)   How about 30 minutes for a few short reads?

    I’m going to give you a bonus here.  Instead of one article, I’m going to recommend three and you can choose where to spend your 30 minutes.

    a) Consider this short article from the New York Times that introduces you to Nudging and the authors of the book “Nudge”.  The article starts with a nudge example that will be hard for you to forget!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/business/08nudge.html

    b) If you want to dig just a bit deeper, this article from Deloitte (the global consulting group) will give you plenty to think about. In “HR for Humans: Welcome to Behavioral Economics - The Power of the Nudge” they discuss the impact nudging can have within an organization’s HR Department.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hr-humans-welcome-behavioral-economics-power-nudge-josh-bersin

    c) Finally here is a meaty 47-page report from the government, but it has an easy to ready five-page (30 minute max) executive report. This is the first annual report from the Obama administration’s “Nudge Brigade”, or more formally known as the Social and Behavioral Science Team.  They were tasked with conducting fourteen full-scale proof of concept nudge experiments, rigorously testing them, and reporting the results.  If you have any doubt about the power of nudging, this will open your eyes.

    https://sbst.gov/download/2016%20SBST%20Annual%20Report.pdf

    3) Now we are getting serious.  Are you willing to give up 60-90 minutes? (Oh come on – you probably spent more time than that on YouTube yesterday!)

    Have you ever experienced a MOOC (a Massive Open Online Course)?  A MOOC is an online course (in this case a free course) taught by experts in the field. MOOCs include video, text, and many extra materials.  EdX’s course, “Behavioral Economics in Action” is asynchronous (anytime in or out) and is taught by Dilip Soman, author of The Last Mile: Creating Social and Economic Value from Behavioral Insights.  Go to www.edX.com, sign-up (free) and search for “Behavior al Economics in Action”.  Of course you can’t take the entire course in 60-90 minutes, but you can explore the course.

    https://www.edx.org/course/behavioral-economics-action-university-torontox-be101x-0

    4) Would you spend three to six hours if you could radically improve the results you get from your training interventions?  The three books that follow are based in solid science and field-tested results.

    • Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness;  Thaler and Sunstein; This is the book that made Nudge famous.  It is a good place to start, if you want to gain a more in-depth understanding of nudge or choice architecture.  Thaler and Sunstein continue to be the go-to consultants and academics (nationally and internationally) in the field of applied behavioral economics.
    • Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference, David Halpern; This book is the definitive explanation of the British Government’s efforts with Nudge. They originated the E.A.S.T model, a widely used model for nudging and now travel extensively in the US and internationally training cities, states, and other organizations how to nudge.    
    • Thinking Fast and Slow; Daniel Kahneman;  Do you have a lot of time on your hands?  Want to take a deep dive into Behavioral Economics with the world’s recognized expert?  Kahneman is the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in economics who, with many others, developed the theory of behavioral economics (the scientific basis of nudging).  The award winning and best-selling book is full of solid advice and scholarship, but it is a bit of a slog at over 500 pages.

    5) Give nudging a full-day!  You won’t be sorry. If you are willing to devote a day to nudging (in the company of 25 other training professionals from Sacramento), consider the upcoming one-day ATD Sacramento workshop.  You will be joining a group of other forward-thinking, empirically-minded, and action-oriented talent developers.

    “Influence, Persuade, Nudge: Master the Science of Getting People to Take Action” on Friday, August 25 2017 at 1410 Ethan Way, The Los Rios CCD’s Workforce and Economic Development Center. 

    This hands-on full-day workshop is another in the Fundamentals for Training Professionals Series. The workshop is led by Bruce Winner, Custom Training Manager of the Government Training Academy, LRCCD.  Bruce conducted a two-hour Nudge workshop for a sold out crowd of over 60 people in Nov 2016 and the crowd asked for a follow-up.  Here it is!

    See the featured workshop here - http://tdsac.org/EventCalendar




  • 06 Jul 2017 10:21 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Bruce Winner, Government Training Academy, winnerb@losrios.edu, 916.563.3232, www.losrios-training.org

    The Startling Time When Trainers Must Nudge

    Nudging at its simplest is defined as the science of getting people to take action. Nudges are a means to influence your trainees to take positive action.  Nudging is a flexible way to increase the chances of your training resulting in behavioral change or that as your training participants return to the workplace, they apply their newly learned skills.

    Would you like to know one of the most effective, and yet surprising, times when trainers should use nudging?  It’s a time that many of us in training ignore.

    The time is after our design and development, before our training even starts!

    Nudging before training begins

    Before your training begins, consider using “priming”.  Priming is exposing someone to a stimulus that will ultimately make them more receptive to your following effort(s) to persuade them. Robert Cialdini, one of the most frequently cited behavioral scientists in this field, refers to priming as “pre-suasion”. In his recent book Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, he describes the flexibility and utility of this powerful behavioral science technique. Cialdini refers to this time period before our persuasive efforts as a “privileged moment for change”. During this privileged moment, we can prepare people to be receptive to a message before they experience it.

    In the lab, but also in the real world

    There are many examples of priming that have been proven effective in laboratory settings. Priming has been used in tests to increase individuals’ honesty in response to questions, to boost their attention, and even make them act as if they were years older or younger than their natural age.

    Though these lab examples are interesting, my favorite examples of priming are those that take place in the real world. For example, the following priming experiment was conducted in a supermarket, where people made actual decisions and paid real money for their choices. In the test, a display of French and German wines were side by side in a supermarket display.  For several hours of the day French music would play and at other times German music would be piped to the consumers. When French music was playing, 70% of the sales were of French wines. When German music was playing, 70% of the sales were of German wines.  When randomly selected guests were asked if the music playing influenced their selection of wines, the overwhelming majority of the shoppers responded, “What music?”  Priming works! It works in the lab and the real world, but it is generally invisible to those who are influenced by the priming.

    An orientation session that is really much more

    Of course I realize you aren’t in the business of selling wine, but have you ever considered how you could pre-suade your training participants to be even more receptive to your training messages? You can prime your participants by speaking directly to them and their supervisors in an hour set aside before your training begins.  Here you can efficiently prime both groups (participants and supervisors). An effective way to do this is to ask them (participants) to consider or “hold” the following question, “What would successfully completing this program do for me?”  (Note: We generally expand the question with some specific examples of potential positive results from the program.)

    When we use this technique in my training practice, we use a modified coaching technique borrowed from Nick LeForce, NLP master-coach. The method directs participants to cup their hands, as if they were physically holding the question posed to them. This priming technique appeals to their emotional brain, by allowing participants to craft an internal priming message for themselves.  We ask them to listen to the entire session while determining what is in it for them.  (Trainers often refer to this as the WIIFM, or the acronym for What’s In It For Me.) For some participants the WIIFM may be a promotion, for others a raise, and some may imagine a boost in productivity and the recognition they will receive because of it.

    Then we ask the supervisors to hold a similar question. The goal is to get the same level of support from supervisors as from the participants.  As trainers, we know that the supervisor’s endorsement is often the key to the participant’s application of training back on the job. After they ask themselves this priming question, supervisors are more likely to view the training as a means to help themselves.  For some supervisors their goal may be a more productive employee, for others a more engaged one, and for some it could be an employee who makes fewer mistakes and thus takes less of their (the supervisor’s) valuable time.  In both cases (participants and supervisors) we have primed them using the most effective arguments available to pre-suade them. We have used their own arguments, their own vested interests, their emotional brains, their WIIFM.

    Priming, like all nudges, is designed to overcome our cognitive biases.  Priming is a proven method of overcoming the “status quo bias” or more colloquially, our adversity to change. Most people (employees or supervisors) are content to accept things the way they are. Unless nudged, your trainees may be reluctant to learn new ways of doing things and their supervisors may be reluctant to let them try new tools or techniques.  Priming will prepare your students to be more receptive to your message in the classroom and with the supervisor’s support, boost post-training application.  

    During and After Training

    Watch for an upcoming blog where we will explore how to nudge trainees during and after training.

    You can find out more about these nudges and how to use them to boost your training results at an upcoming ATD Sacramento workshop.

     

    Influence, Persuade, Nudge: Master the Science of Getting People to Take Action.

    Friday, August 25 2017 at 1410 Ethan Way, The Los Rios CCD’s Workforce and Economic Development Center.

    This hands-on full day workshop is another in the Fundamentals Series (professional development workshops for training professionals).  The workshop is led by Bruce Winner, Custom Training Manager of the Government Training Academy, LRCCD.  Bruce conducted a two hour Nudge workshop for a sold out crowd of over 60 people in Nov 2016 and the crowd asked for a follow-up.  Here it is!

    Click here to learn more about the featured workshop.


  • 05 Jul 2017 8:39 AM | Sarah Crawford (Administrator)

    Calling all ATD Sacramento Members! Are you Strengths-Certified? We are looking for Gallup-Certified practitioners of StrengthsFinder 2.0 to share best practices at our October 20, 2017 ATD Sacramento program!

    The lunchtime session at CalSTRS in West Sacramento will be a panel discussion and interactive session. 

    We are looking for those who coach, team-build, develop leaders, and/or train classes using the assessment and concepts to:

    • Educate participants regarding what StrengthsFinder is, and the many uses in talent development
    • Share best practices and examples/takeaways
    • Facilitate small groups for participants to debrief/understand their own Top Five Strengths (assessment will be pre-work for the event) 

    We are looking for presenters/facilitators who meet the following criteria:

    • Certified by Gallup or by a Gallup-certified coaching consultancy
    • Demonstrated experience using the StrengthFinders tool in a coaching, team-building, classroom training, or leadership development role
    • Available on Friday, October 20 between 10am to 2pm (not sure of exact time yet)
    • A quality, complete speaker proposal form

    NOTE: Preference will be given to ATD Sacramento and/or National ATD Members. Not a member yet? Join at www.tdsac.org!

    Benefits to the presenters/facilitators: 

    • Network and share your coaching/consulting business with Sacramento's premier talent development association members
    • Use your strengths to enrich the ATD Sacramento community 
    • Learn best practices from other Strengths-certified practitioners

    Please submit your proposal to present using the speaker form available on the ATD Sacramento website under "Events", "Speaker Proposals" no later than Friday, August 11th!

  • 20 Jun 2017 10:42 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Bruce Winner, Government Training Academy, winnerb@losrios.edu, 916.563.3232, www.losrios-training.org


    Training Professionals – The Amazing Approach You Are Not (yet) Using!

    • As a trainer, coach, designer, or developer, would you like a new and powerful technique to increase the application of positive behaviors following your training programs?
    • Would you like to be able to influence or persuade people to do what is ultimately good for them and the organization; and do so without resorting to coercion, threats, or other negative actions?

    These are just two of the positive consequences of “Nudging”, a powerful new science-based approach to getting people to take action.  It is being used by our own federal government, many states and cities, the British government, and loads of private sector firms in the US and beyond.

    When could a training professional use Nudging?

    Here are just a few areas where it has been and could be applied:

    • Increase the application of lessons learned in training, when participants return to the job:
      • Such as a nudge to get supervisors to use positive coaching skills and questions instead of threats or coercion
      • Or a nudge for employees who need to increase their ability to listen, solve problems, and cooperate as a team member, but find difficulty in applying these skills consistently
    • Boost positive behaviors that benefit employees and employers
      • Such as nudges to increase positivity, resilience, and even improved health habits (diet and exercise)
    • Decrease negative habits such as procrastination, angry outbursts, or blaming others

    Is it based on genuine science?

    Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioral economics (the science of how people make decisions). His work (and that of many others of course) formed the foundation for what is now known as Nudging. He was the first non-economist to ever win the Nobel for economics, for bringing 40 years of research from the behavioral, social, and cognitive sciences to prove how people really make decisions.  This research has now been systemized in a set of findings that can be used by training professionals to change the behavior of those they train or coach. 

    Nudging is based on understanding our unconscious biases and using this knowledge (and well-designed nudges) to change behavior.  You will find the science of nudging explained in many contemporary books including, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Thaler and Sunstein; SWITCH: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath; and Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. Watch for an upcoming blog where I provide a brief description of five books or other sources of information about nudging (articles, brief videos, or MOOCS).

    I know it is being used by other professionals, but is it really feasible…for talent developers?

    1. It is inexpensive – Nudging experiments can be conducted for little or no additional costs and with a minimum time commitment.
    2. It is a flexible technique (within current efforts or as a stand-alone tool)
    Nudging can be incorporated into your pre-training promotional efforts or orientations, or you can seamlessly fuse in into your classroom or online programs, or you can wait to employ it in your post-training application efforts.

    It can also be used as a stand-alone effort to change or reinforce behaviors that support your organization’s goals and objectives. Many public agencies are using it this way. They have used Nudging programs to increase employee contributions to savings plans, drive down waste of agency resources, and even encourage clients to use the organization’s webpage in lieu of the contact center.

    3. Scalable (Nudges can be easily scaled up if they are effective) – Nudges are ideally designed to be tested with small groups, validated, and then scaled up for larger enterprise-wide initiatives.

    If you think that Nudging might be of use to you or your organization, consider the upcoming one day ATD Sacramento workshop or watch for and read the upcoming blogs. You will be joining a host of other forward-thinking, empirically minded, and action-oriented talent developers.

    Upcoming Nudging One-Day Workshop – Friday, August 25 2017 at 1410 Ethan Way, The Los Rios CCD’s Workforce and Economic Development Center.

    This hands-on full day workshop is another in the Fundamentals Series (professional development workshops for training professionals).  The workshop is led by Bruce Winner, Custom Training Manager of the Government Training Academy, LRCCD.  Bruce conducted a two hour Nudge workshop for a sold out crowd of over 60 people in Nov 2016 and the crowd asked for a follow-up.  Here it is!

    Click here for the featured workshop.

  • 21 May 2015 3:22 PM | Anonymous



    We recently attended the “Spiritual Intelligence in the Workplace” presentation by Steve Sphar and were delighted to see such a great turnout. There is obviously a growing level of interest in self-awareness and self-mastery with regard to values-based leadership. It’s about time!


    Our job as HR & Training Professionals is to help our leaders and organizations provide a space where every person can realize their potential by giving them the tools, skills and strategies to develop beyond "Level 5” leadership. Einstein once famously said that problems couldn’t be solved with the same level of consciousness that created them. Perhaps we need to access new spaces of awareness, a new view of human potential, an elevated intention for leadership that goes beyond our current routine idea of leading.


    The way we manage organizations seems out of date and doesn’t seem to be taking people and organizations to their potential. The CORE Journey is designed to explore and experience an expanded perception of human potential. With research-based material and activities that translate the concepts into experience, the CORE Journey will offer a shift to a new space of awareness. The old ways of educating and managing, designed for repetition and efficiency, are not what will elevate leadership to a new consciousness. We invite you to explore what might come next.


    If you have experienced what we’re talking about or if you’d like to explore the possibilities, we hope you will embark on The CORE Journey (book available on Amazon.com). Discover what comes next in Values-Based Leadership.


    Dianna Wright, Ph. D and Dee Hansford, CRP


    Website:  http://thewrightcoach.com


    Book:  http://thewrightcoach.com/core-journey-book/


  • 13 May 2015 7:39 AM | Anonymous

    The Importance of Performance Consulting

    by Guy Burghgraef, CalHR Statewide Training Coordinator, 

    Statewide Learning & Performance Management,

     and Nathan Parker, CalHR Operations Manager, 

    Statewide Training Performance Consultant


    To train or not to train, that is the question.  The pun on the famous Shakespearian line may seem trite, but it is a question the performance consultants ask themselves when confronted performance problems.  Seasoned training professionals with a PH.D. in everyday observation recognize that training is not always the answer to every performance problem.  In fact, training is often the choice when organizations don’t know what the problem is, such as:

    • Just in case training
    • Just because training
    • Training as a reward
    • Training for communications
    • Training for compliance
    • Training for insurance
    • Training to “show we care”
    • Training in lieu of documentation

    Training for the reasons bulleted above is often times reactive, costly, and may not be the appropriate intervention to solve the performance problem, but the thought that if you throw enough training at the problem, maybe it will go away.  Know that philosophy is so detrimental to the training profession; trainers need to look beyond reactive training bulleted above and diagnose true performance problems to identify the best training or non-training intervention.  To get to this level, the training community should consider adding performance-consulting skills to their quiver.  


    So, what is performance consulting and why should I as a trainer care about it?  Dana Gaines Robinson and James C. Robinson, who authored “Performance Consulting: A Practical Guide for HR and Learning Professionals”, are recognized as the foremost experts in Performance Consulting.  They defined performance consulting as the “systematic and holistic approach when analyzing and improving human performance to achieve business goals”.  This holistic approach forces the training professional to look beyond the traditional training world for the answers on how to improve performance.  Other work place factors, which will be discussed later, may contribute to performance or behavior gaps on the job, and all the training in the world will not resolve those issues.  As a discipline, the importance of understanding performance consulting and how to apply it takes a greater presence on stage every day.


    Having looked at performance consulting as an activity leading to results, let’s look closer at the role of Performance Consultant.  Two simple nouns joined together become so much more powerful than their individual meanings.  At the risk of over simplifying, Performance Consultants consult about human performance.  For our purposes performance can be defined as maintaining or increasing value while maintaining or decreasing costs.  Note that “value” is always defined by the customer.  ATD has developed a bevy of knowledge on the subject of human performance and indeed many trainers may well have some exposure to performance analysis and interventions.  Performance consulting is the art and science of improving performance through the most appropriate interventions.

     

    The consultant must think diagnostically and behave prescriptively.  The Performance Consultant needs to be prepared to ask questions like:

    • What is the problem you are trying to solve with training?
    • What percentage of the problem do you expect training to solve?
    • If we do nothing, would anyone notice?
    • Is it even remotely possible that there are other factors that may be influencing the performance in question?

    The Performance Consultant must be both brave and authentic.  Not afraid to ask challenging and probing questions.


    A trainer’s role in determining if training is necessary is best served when they can clearly identify that a performance deficiency is due to a gap in knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors (KSAB).  But what happens if the performance problem is not attributable to KSABs?  Most performance-consulting professionals will also tell you that there are other factors that affect performance.  The worker’s environment and motivation also play a role.  The importance of proper performance diagnostics might be compared to a car owner who tries to repair a failing transmission by changing his wiper blades; it makes him feel better but not for long.


    A performance consultant will collaborate with others to diagnose the performance problem prior to recommending a remedy.  As a performance consultant, there are some diagnostic questions that should be asked to determine the performance problem so the best intervention can be recommended.  Langevin Learning Services has some diagnostic questions that have served me well.  These questions require me to act as an investigative journalist and ask:


    Who

    o   Should be involved in the performance conversation

    o   Sets performance standards

    o   Is the ideal performer that others may be judged against

    o   Benefits from the performance if done correctly


    What

    o   Needs to happen that is not happening

    o   Would happen if the process was working

    o   Would good performance look like

    o   Tools and processes are needed to perform the job

    o   Job aids do people have access 


    Where

    o   Should the job happen

    o   Should performance be measured


    When

    o   Should the process be followed

    o   Should the process start and end

    o   Should deadlines be met


    How 

    o   Should the process or steps be followed

    o   Often should the process be followed


    According to a hrVillage.com article (and as mentioned above), environmental factors and motivation may also play a factor in the worker’s performance.  But how does the office environment affect performance?  Well, think about it, office environment could be affected by the temperature in the office, how the office is laid out, and ergonomic challenges.  How many of us have fallen asleep at our desk because it is too hot in the office?  How many of us have had to go across the floor, building, or campus to meet with the boss?  And how many of us have experienced or had witnessed colleagues suffer from repetitive strain injuries due to poor ergonomic set up at work?  Motivation can also affect performance.  Workers may not be motivated to perform due to workplace conflict, burnout, or feelings that work is no longer fulfilling and this cannot be turned around with more training.   


    The final question performance consultants will ask is “the problem worth solving”?  This is where the performance consultant needs to access more of the finance side of their brain.  A key step in answering this question is determining how much of the performance gap is costing the organization versus the cost of the performance intervention.  This is ultimately a business decision as are all performance issues.


    The successful performance consultant is a multi-disciplined individual who focuses on outputs, deliverables and results. They act as analyst, coach, mentor, and confidant.  They are conversant in the art of training and the language of business.  They invest in themselves and are not afraid to “speak truth to power.”


    Increasing your performance consulting skills over time will become more important.  This is especially true considering how much organizations spend on training every year.  Collectively, over $62 billion was spent on training in 2013 alone.  Organizations are awash with anecdotal stories that training expenses can be trimmed because training is too expensive. But organizations are also awash with anecdotal stories of workers who fail to perform.  In an era of thin budget margins and pressure to reduce the bottom line, the performance consultant will successfully bridge these two worlds by pin pointing performance issues and recommending appropriate cost effective strategies, whether they are traditional training or not.


    But more important than understanding the basic dollars and cents of training is the performance consultant’s understanding of business finance.  This understanding of finance is a key step to making performance consultants more of a strategic player in the organization and will have immediate benefits.  An effective performance consultant is armed to build a strategic relationship with operations and organizational decision makers and be able to influence spending when important decisions have to be made.


    So in answering the question “To train or not to train” we must answer with an emphatic: “It depends.”  If your reason for training is to improve performance then train if and only if that training will yield an increase in performance that extends beyond the cost of the training.  If you are training for any other reason, then proceed with the understanding that you do so without the expectation of improving performance.


    Written by:


    Guy Burghgraef

    Statewide Training Coordinator, Statewide Learning & Performance Management


    Nathan Parker

    Operations Manager Statewide Training

    Performance Consultant


    P.1 - Performance Consulting: A practical Guide for HR and Learning Professionals – Dana Robinson

    “Consulting skills for trainers: collaborative performance improvement” – Langevin learning services

    http://www.hrvillage.com/human-resources/employee-productivity.htm

    http://www.bersin.com/blog/post.aspx?id=f9e1d22b-f2ab-4a8c-8672-1b95c634cc7f




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