Take a moment and gather your thoughts about informal and social learning. Do you think they have a place in the L&D department or should they be left up to each individual? Now, think about the changes that virtually everyone in L&D are seeing these days. With less time, fewer resources, staff reductions and a whole host of other factors the outlook for the same old approach doesn’t look very well.
Shifting our perspective from training to performance leads us to a more holistic approach. By taking a systemic view of all factors that impact performance (and by recognizing the benefits and limitations of training), we can become more efficient and more effective.
There are an endless number of factors that should make workplace learning and development professionals sit up and re-examine how our training programs function. Perhaps the biggest issue is our need to do more with less—while also doing everything faster. This means that to stay relevant, we must always seek out the most efficient ways to achieve improved performance.
Notice that I didn’t say we should be looking for more efficient ways to “do training.” Although training is an important piece of the puzzle, by itself, it is insufficient to improve every performance issue in our organizations. In fact, training may be one of the least efficient and least effective options for improving performance.
Bottom line: Training is a means to an end. We must fully consider the system or function within which training may be applied. More important, we must also consider other means of addressing performance issues—beyond the traditional packaging and delivery of content.
Fortunately, there is a way we can become both more efficient and more effective. Shifting our perspective from training to performance leads us to a more holistic approach. By taking a systemic view of all factors that impact performance (and by recognizing the benefits and limitations of training), we can become more efficient and more effective.
Focusing on performance, instead of training, leads us to look at all the variables we can use to affect performance. A good place to start is Thomas Gilbert’s book Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance. In it, Gilbert describes his Behavior Engineering Model (BEM) for performance analysis, which illustrates the six essential components of behavior that can be manipulated to effect performance:
All six components of behavior are equally important and must be present for optimal performance to occur. (For an in-depth look at the six boxes in the BEM, go tohttp://performancexpress.org/0704/images/BEM.pdf.)
However, after diagnosing performance problems, we should look at the condition(s) that have the greatest leverage for improving performance. And efficiency comes from determining the strategies that will provide the greatest improvement with the least cost.
Doesn’t that sound like a better approach for you and your organization? If you think questioning a request for training is taboo, what do you think of implementing futile training programs? More importantly, what do you think your stakeholder will think when training doesn’t work?
We owe it to ourselves and our organizations to confirm whether or not training is the best solution for the problem. Asking a few good questions that get to the root of the problem gives you a much better chance of finding the best solution. Sometime that will be training. Sometimes it won’t.
To be sure, this approach is much more challenging than dutifully building courses as the requests roll in. But in the long run, if those training programs aren’t effective (and if we don’t start evolving), those requests will slow—if not stop altogether.
The role of the L&D function is changing.
“The L&D footprint continues to shrink. Although many training teams added staff during the year, these additions were outpaced by faster growth in learning populations. As a result, the overall “footprint,” or ratio of training staff relative to the learner population continued to decline in many companies. This trend is one sign of the changing role of the L&D function, which no longer is “the place” for learning. Instead, the role of the L&D team is to facilitate and enable learning. L&D teams should build skills in performance consulting, gain expertise in new technologies including social and mobile, and work to cultivate strong learning cultures within their organizations.” Bersin by Deloitte Study
Jane Hart has summarized this very well in her post “Emerging new roles for learning and performance professionals” Be sure to check out this diagram, and note how it includes elements of Performance Consulting, Performance Support, Social Learning
70% of what people know about their jobs, they learn informally from the people they work with
The numbers and ratios are simply a short-hand to help explain that formal training and development plays only a part in the overall ecology of organisational learning and that experiential and social learning in the workplace provide the majority of learning opportunities and experiences.
a holistic solution to these challenges.
- From Training to Performance—A Necessary Evolution
- 100 Examples of Social/Informal Learning
- 70:20:10 Forum
- Are you already familiar with the 70:20:10 concept?
- Do you agree with the 70:20:10 view of learning? Why or why not?
- How have you changed your approach to account for the need to “do more with less”?
- How can new informal and social tools such as ESNs contribute to this approach?