"I need a training program on...."
This simple statement often turns into a costly, frustrating, and
unsuccessful campaign to achieve a desired performance level. While
the rationale for conducting training may seem clear, you are
implementing a new system, receiving complaints from clients, not
selling enough products, and so forth, most performance
deficiencies are due to environmental factors, including vague
expectations; insufficient and untimely feedback; limited access to
required information; inadequate tools, resources, and procedures;
inappropriate and counterproductive incentives; and so forth.
Fortunately, it is much easier to fix the environment than to train
people. To put it simply: If the gap is not due to a lack of skills
and knowledge, don't train!
The following eight steps will help you analyze a performance
deficiency, detect the source of the problem, identify solutions,
including training, and recommend actions.
Step 1: Define the problem and validate any
assumptions. Who initiated the training request and why?
Evaluate the validity of the request, the estimated cost of the
problem, and the need for further analysis.
Step 2: Identify potential sources of the problem.
The source of the problem may reside within multiple divisions. For
example, an unexpected drop in market share may have originated
from sales, marketing, customer service, and/or support staff.
Step 3: Collect data. This vital information can
pinpoint the performance deficiency within each group.
Step 4: Conduct a root-cause analysis. Analyze the
data to uncover what factors affect performance. This may include
employees' knowledge and skill gaps, misunderstanding of job
functions, misinterpretation of rules, conflict with colleagues,
and so on.
Step 5: Identify plausible solutions. Once you
uncover the cause of the problem, you can identify remedies. In
addition to training and job aids, plausible solutions may include
task, job, or organizational redesigns or new tools, policies,
procedures, incentive systems, or hiring practices.
Step 6: Identify implementation issues. Assess the
feasibility and effectiveness of the solutions by checking out the
available resources and the compatibility of the proposed solution
with existing systems, management, and employees.
Step 7: Determine the cost of the solutions and potential
benefits. Capture all costs, including personnel time,
travel, development, facilities, and equipment. With costs and
potential benefits in hand, you can calculate the anticipated ROI
of your proposed solution.
Step 8: Prioritize recommendations and prepare a plan of
action. Compile the costs and benefits of the plausible
solutions for all groups and compare them to provide a clear
picture of which remedies will generate the greatest impact and
By following these eight simple steps, you can vastly boost your
performance, and therefore your bottom line.