I’m Dave Ferguson. In my day job, I’m a curriculum developer for the BC Pension Corporation in Victoria, British Columbia, though nothing on my blog is meant as official or even official commentary from them. As my Twitter profile says, “my opinions, not my employer’s.” That’s been true since I started bringing good things to life 30-odd years ago.
As an independent consultant, I’ve worked with companies and organizations to solve on-the-job performance problems — gaps between the results they have and the results they want from a group.
Whether as an internal or external participant, usually I become involved because a client believes some group needs training. Often that’s true: people in the group don’t know how to do something, so they can’t produce the desired results. That’s a skill-knowledge gap.
I work with the client to find out how people can produce the results. The guiding principle isn’t what they need to know, but what they need to do.
Starting with the results keeps the focus on what people accomplish. That in turn highlights real skills and essential knowledge. The training that results will matter because it connects directly to the job.
The thing is, training deals only with skill-knowledge gaps, and those aren’t the only possible barriers to performance. Sometimes people know how to do their jobs, but still aren’t producing results. Success might depends on factors like:
- Information essential to the task
- Standards for how to do the job
- Feedback on how well they’re doing
- Tools and materials
- Time to do the job right
- Incentives for good performance
Any time I identify skill-knowledge gaps, design ways to address them, and develop the training, I also work to highlight other potential barriers to performance.
- Does the setting help or hinder people?
- Do standards exist? Do they make sense? Do people know them?
- Can people find out — clearly, specifically, promptly — how they’re doing?
- Does the organization reward people, or punish them, for doing what it says it wants?
I’ve helped clients to answer these questions as they affect the work of electronic-commerce experts, international-aid project managers, financial services staff, aircraft-engine salespeople, grocery-inventory managers, and workers at government agencies like Defense, Justice, Labor, and Transportation.
Anything else you care to know? I’m easy to find: dferguson (at) strathlorne (dot) com.