L&D Capability - Performance Consulting
This post provides an introduction to Performance Consulting and includes a downloadable Performance Consulting Aide Memoir you can use to assist in applying the approach and developing your consulting skills.
Improving performance has become a key focus for organisations seeking to do more with less, maintain competitive advantage or to increase market share. This challenging environment has placed increasing pressure on the learning function to create more responsive solutions with greater reach, flexibility and impact.
There has also been much reporting on the state of perceptions of the learning function. One CLC survey of line leaders found only 24% agreed L&D was critical to business outcomes, only 15% thought L&D effective at influencing talent strategy and only 14% would recommend working with L&D. Clearly we’ve got some work to do if we want to build our reputation and deliver tangible value to our organisations!
L&D and the broader HR function is recognising that the traditional approach will not be effective in responding to current and emerging challenges. One of the key opportunities for HR and the learning function to improve the way they engage, align and create value is through Performance Consulting.
What is Performance Consulting?
There are a number of definitions of Performance Consulting that raise some common and important themes that can define our role and the impact of our work:
‘A performance consultant is a professional who focuses on what people do (their performance) and then considers what it takes (in skills, knowledge, and a range of workplace resources) to do that well’ (Broad, 2005)
‘Our goal, as performance consultants (whether in name or in fact), is to help our organisations or organisational clients achieve maximum desired results from people in ways all stakeholders value. Our mission is to generate worthy performance’ (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2004).
‘Performance Consulting is a process used by L&D and HR Business Partners to understand the real business problems behind requests for people solutions’ (Harrison, 2008).
‘Performance Consulting seeks to understand and develop a holistic strategy to change performance’ (Rothwell, 2013).
Training Needs Analysis (TNA) normally has one outcome – a training solution, and the focus of training is knowledge and skill acquisition. It is argued however, that only around 20% of performance problems relate to lack of knowledge and skill, so we can see that training solutions in isolation, will be unable to solve the bulk of performance problems.
Performance Analysis, as part of a broader performance consulting approach allows HR/L&D to understand the four main factors that affect individual and team performance:
By adopting a consistent approach to performance consulting and working together to develop this important capability HR and the learning function can provide more responsive solutions that provide flexibility and impact. The consistent approach can also help position HR/L&D as a strategic function and trusted business partner.
An example of a Performance Consulting Process
- Broad, M.L. 2005, ‘Beyond transfer of training. Engaging systems to improve performance’, Pfeiffer.
- Harrison, N. 2008, ‘How to be a true Business Partner by Performance Consulting’, www.performconsult.co.uk
- Rothwell, W.J. 2013, ‘Performance Consulting. Applying Performance Improvement in Human Resource Development’, John Wiley & Sons
- Stolovitch, H.D. & Keeps, E.J. 2004, ‘Training Ain’t Performance’, ASTD Press
Start a conversation
Consider the following questions to begin a conversation with your team about how performance consulting skills might be developed, applied or improved in your organisation:
- Does HR/L&D have an agreed performance consulting approach that allows them to engage stakeholders, understand performance problems and create performance solutions?
- Does L&D perform training needs analysis (that produces training solutions that respond to knowledge and skills) or performance analysis (that creates performance solutions that respond to knowledge, skills, motivation and environment)?
- How are solutions currently developed or brokered to ensure knowledge, skill, motivational and environmental elements are identified and combined to form a holistic performance solution?
- How does L&D respond to direct requests for training? Do they provide training or do they engage in a broader discussion to understand the problem and identify root causes and solution options?
- What benefits might an agreed performance consulting approach (and operating model) deliver for:
- The broader HR community
A number of free and member only resources can be accessed via the Forum’s Toolkit to explore performance consulting skills further. Consider the below as a starting point:
What really causes Performance Problems?
Five characteristics of high performing people
Performance Consulting Skills – Drawing System Diagrams
Root Cause Analysis Tools and Techniques
Workshop to Analyse Waste in L&D
Learning and Performance Audit Toolkit
COME BACK AND SHARE!
Have you used this post to think about how performance consulting is or can be used in your organisation? Do you have an agreed approach that is applied across the HR/L&D function? Do consultants take orders for training or do they work with stakeholders to create performance solutions? Why not share your reflections, questions and experiences with our community.
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