I’ve done that over many years for both coworkers and outside clients as a corporate employee (Amtrak, GE, the BC Pension Corporation). Nothing on my blog has ever been meant as official information or even commentary on behalf of such employers, of course, though once or twice maybe it should have been.
I’ve done much the same work as a consultant. In either role, my take is that we were collaborating to solve on-the-job performance problems — gaps between the results they have and the results they want from a group.
I generally get 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, in the workplace, 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
These factors lead to questions about how, when, and where people work:
- 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 enjoyed working with electronic-commerce experts, international-aid project managers, financial services staff, aircraft-engine salespeople, grocery-inventory managers, and workers at U.S. agencies like Defense, Justice, Labor, and Transportation. You can see that a time or two I’ve needed to collaborate with the IT departments that create or maintain the systems that also support the work of the organization.
I’m really big on finding ways not to develop training — to close that skill/knowledge gap without trying to cram information into people’s heads. Along the way that’s led to my companion blog, Dave’s Ensampler.
Anything else you care to know? I’m easy to find: Dave (at) BroadCoveConsulting (dot) ca.