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Learning and Performance: Going Beyond Training

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The focus and expectations for training and development are changing. Organizations are becoming more exact regarding what they expect to receive as a result of time, energy and dollars invested in employee training and development.

An all too common training scenario is something like this: someone notices a problem with a "work" process or "poor performance." The problem needs to be fixed, and the organization determines that employees need to be trained. A trainer or "program" is brought in to "fix" the problem (and possibly the employees), but nothing actually changes. "The primary shortcoming of this approach," says Kirby Martzall, President of KL Martzall, "is that it's task-oriented and isolated rather than process-oriented and integrated. The focus needs to be on learning and performance instead of just training."

The learning and performance process starts by identifying the processes, needs and expectations of the organization and the people who will be trained. What does the company want and need its employees to do? How should they behave as a result of the training? What do the employees need? Do managers know how best to interact with their supervisors? How do people and departments interact? What is required of the system to support the training; to support performance?

Once an organization has answered these and other questions, a tailored training and development program is designed to fit the organization's learning and performance goals and work/interaction processes. We meet with the organization's leadership team to outline this process and program.

"You can't just train individual people and expect change and improvement across the system. The whole management or process team must be involved, or changes won't take place or be reinforced," says Kirby.

"For the most part, the people being trained have great ideas," continues Martzall. "However, often they're not sure how to proceed. We take the mystery out of 'how people change their organization' by helping them learn how to implement change in their specific situations, and how to communicate with managers and peers about making changes."

We meet regularly with the executive or lead team during the implementation process. Individuals learn to assess their skills and meet with managers and peers to address concerns and share insights. Participants must agree that any problems or needs that arise during training will be discussed with the management team. Managers in turn are taught how to coach and really listen to employees, address problems and needs, and reinforce the learning and transition to performance.

As the process continues, the organization reveals more of its expectations for people, performance and their work processes. As needed, we facilitate to reach agreement on exactly what's expected and how the organization can make changes to meet those expectations.

Three to six months after 'preliminary training completion,' we meet with the leadership team to follow up on what's working and what's not working. "Is the executive team holding people accountable for changes in behavior? Are employees going to managers and peers with concerns? What is being tracked? What results are emerging?" asks Martzall. "We track where the process is working or may be breaking down, and help them adjust structure, processes and systems to gain improved results and consistency."

Monitoring the results of training and development may indicate a need for further training or identify gaps and breakdowns in technology application or how the process is designed to work. Comments Kirby, "We sometimes find deeper or contributing problems or forces in the organization to be addressed."

Kirby Martzall has successfully applied an organization-wide learning & performance approach since 1990 in a range of situations with both groups and individuals. Learning and performance building are done with people, not to people. In this way, learning becomes part of planned succession for employees and for the total organization — a true win-win.

Learning and Performance:
Process and Results