Your organisation, or the client you are working for, does not care about learning.

There, I’ve said it!

But why would an organisation pay for something they don’t care about? While those of you who earn your living getting paid to provide learning services laugh at what is obviously a dumb statement, let’s explore why I said it.

So what does an organisation care about? Presumably their primary purpose, so there is no single simple answer to that question. However, one thing we can be sure of is that any organisation wants their employees to perform well to deliver on their promise to customers, constituents, patients, students, taxpayers, shareholders, community, and any other stakeholders.

Whatever their primary purpose is, they DO care about employee performance.

So what should you be doing?

You should be focusing on better employee performance as the primary outcome for your activities rather than focusing on employee learning. This means that you need to do a performance needs analysis rather than a learning or training needs analysis. In effect, you need to become a performance consultant to the organisation so that you can take them through a performance diagnostics process to find out the barriers to their desired performance improvement.

The barriers will be within one or both of these areas:

  1. The employee doing the task (the performer)
  2. The environment around the employee at the point of work (the stage)

In order for the employee to be capable in the moment of doing the delegated task at the point of work, both the employee and the environment must be competent. The employee must have a sufficient level of knowledge and skill, and have a suitable attitude. The environment must provide the right things to the employee in the way of resources, tools, colleagues, processes, management services, and so on.

When both the employee and the environment at the point of work are competent, the employee becomes capable of doing the delegated task, and satisfactory performance is achieved. The problem is, when the desired performance is not achieved, it is all too easy to blame the performer, even if the real problem is the stage on which they are performing.

I’m sure you know people who think that a Mercedes convertible or a Prada handbag is just what they need to make them happy. They think that possessions = happiness. Not you of course, you are far wiser than to believe that material possessions are a reliable route to happiness. And yet so many people in organisations believe that training/learning is a reliable route to performance improvement. They think that training = performance. They ask for training, which is what they think they want, but so many times it is not what they actually need, and so the training that is delivered does not solve the problem.

When your performance diagnostics process indicates that the barrier to performance is a lack of knowledge or skills, then by all means, roll up your sleeves and flex your learning and development muscles, and deliver the best learning initiative you can.

But when your performance diagnostics process indicates that the primary barriers are nothing to do with the competence of the individual performer, you need to work with the organisation and management structure to help them see what they truly need to improve performance, even though they are asking for training.

In a nutshell, L&D people need to become performance consultants to fulfil their obligations to their organisations or their clients.

Join us to chat about this on #OzLearn on Tuesday 14th July at 20:00 (AEST), 11:00 (UK)

My best wishes, Paul

#OzLearn – Australia’s leading L&D tweet chat
Runs on every second Tuesday of the month.
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By Paul Matthews – Speaker/Author/Consultant on Informal Learning and Workforce Capability
Author of bestsellers “Capability at Work: How to Solve the Performance Puzzle
and “Informal Learning at Work: How to Boost Performance in Tough Times

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