One of the more exciting ideas to emerge from the corporate learning space, which I hasten to add is yet to be realised, is to transform the Learning & Development department into a performance centre.
Rather than charging L&D Consultants with marketing the team’s lovingly crafted interventions, or reacting to random solution-first requests from the business – We need a team building workshop! – the Performance Consultant analyses the real needs of the business and identifies the relevant solutions.
This is not a novel idea. For example, I am aware of an Australian bank that established a performance centre over a decade ago, while Helen Blunden recently shared the following via an OzLearn chat:
Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) January 17, 2014
On the face of it, this makes sense to me. I subscribe to the notion that the point of learning in the workplace is to improve performance, and the raison d’être of the performance centre is to shift our focus to its namesake.
However, I do have a caveat: If the performance centre is populated with L&D types, then the solutions they devise are probably going to be L&D oriented.
This won’t appear to pose a problem unless you appreciate that not all performance ailments are due to an L&D deficiency. On the contrary, poor performance may be caused by myriad factors such as:
- A flawed process
- Obsolete technology
- Inadequate resourcing
- Noise or other disturbances
- Office politics
- Interpersonal conflict
…or any number of human conditions:
…not to mention one of my favourites offered by Joyce Seitzinger in the aforementioned Ozlearn chat:
Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) January 17, 2014
Of course! Recruiting the right person for the role in the first place!
My point is, while poor performance may well be due to a lack of capability, it might not be either. An effective Performance Consultant must determine the root causes of the problems – whatever they may be – and respond accordingly. Do former L&D Consultants have that skillset?
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.