In the learning and development world, we talk a lot about designing and delivering “solutions” and being “solutions-oriented.” Heck, some of us are even called “Learning Solutions Designers” or “Learning Solutions Architects.”
With so much emphasis on being solutions-oriented, it’s no wonder many of us feel obligated to offer up training at the merest whiff of a perceived performance problem. Not only is training an easy win for our clients, providing training can be a pretty easy win for us too. That’s because it provides a low-risk, relatively low-cost, and concrete response to a need—and with measurable outcomes (depending on what you’re measuring …). What’s not to love about that?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot more nuance to job performance than just having the right knowledge or skills. All of the passing scores and workshop certificates in the world can’t address poor performance when there are other factors in play; factors like a lack of motivation, a bad job fit, or workplace obstacles such as a lack of resources or support. When other factors are the underlying problem, training isn’t going to make much of an impact on performance—and may end up delaying more meaningful actions like providing better software, improving hiring practices, or addressing the root cause of poor motivation.
But how do you help managers and clients to recognize when these other factors are in play? And how do you know when training is really the right solution?
To answer those questions, I’ve built a simple branching interaction in Articulate Storyline. It was inspired by this 2010 article from Jane Bozarth in Learning Solutions Magazine. I've designed this interaction to be a manager-level exchange focusing on a small team of workers. (This may even reflect the types of conversations those of you in smaller organizations have.) The focus is on identifying individual performance barriers, but the underlying concepts can be applied to a broader audience.
Can you steer this conversation in the right direction? Can you find the clues hidden in this manager’s assessment of his troubled team members? Is training the right solution for everyone? Dig in and find out!
It’s not easy being the person who questions the root cause of a performance problem—especially when the nature of that problem and the appropriate solution have been predetermined by management.
Doing so can invite awkward conversations that bring up issues that aren’t easily addressed without a bigger change to the organization’s culture or strategies. But the way I see it, having candid conversations with your clients about the real problems is key to adding value to your organization and building a fulfilling career for yourself. Only when you’re talking about real problems can you put you, your organization, and your learners on the path toward real solutions.
Interested in learning more ideas and strategies for analyzing needs and uncovering solutions? Here are some more articles from the ELH archives that are on point.
What approaches have helped you uncover the underlying performance issues in your organization? Share your thoughts and experiences with us by leaving a comment below.
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