Performance consulting means helping your client maximise their results by improving the performance of employees and processes. This means your project will have to start with working with the client to identify the problem, before you can get anywhere near recommending a solution.
In a blog post featured on the Association for Talent Development website, Chris Adams outlined the difference between performance consulting and simply learning. Below, we highlighted some of the best bits of his original post. You can also find a link to the full post at the end of this article.
“After an initial conversation with the client, I had little to no confidence that product knowledge training alone could produce the business results he needed. My usual instructional design approach wouldn’t work. needed to find different, more appropriate solutions—and to do so, I needed a different approach. That approach was performance consulting.
Identify Gaps and Successes
Performance consulting is a strategic process that produces business results by maximizing the performance of people and organizations. Adopting this approach, I changed my starting point. Instead of starting to design a solution, I partnered with my client to first identify the root causes of the gap between the current average products each customer had and the goal. I started by asking some questions of my client. One critical question was this:
“Are there any bankers whose customers consistently use four or more banking products?”
The client knew that there were some bankers already exceeding this goal. I then asked, “What do these bankers do more, better, or differently to achieve that result?” My client did not know the answer to this question but indicated he would like to obtain that information. He agreed to identify these high-performing bankers, indicating it would be important to find out what these star bankers were doing before moving forward with any training. This gave me the opportunity to gather some data.
Find Root Causes
I observed and interviewed the star bankers to identify behaviours that yielded results. I also interviewed some branch managers and more typical bankers (who weren’t currently meeting customer and product goals). My goal was to identify the root causes for the gap in results. This is important because gaps with multiple causes also require multiple solutions. Only once causes are identified can clients be influenced to select appropriate solutions aligned with their business metrics.
Focus on Causes, Not Symptoms
I did collect one additional piece of data I’d like to mention. When I interviewed typical bankers, they indicated that it was difficult for them to sell additional banking products because they lacked the time to do so.
This is a common response, so let me caution that lack of time is a symptom, not a cause. The amount of time in the workday is the same for all bankers. There must be underlying factors that cause some bankers to feel there’s just not enough time. In fact, I did find that when bankers became skilled at matching customer needs to appropriate products, they also became much more efficient in their work—seeing more clients each day and selling more products to each client.
Select Appropriate Solutions
Having identified these causes, the client and I agreed that product knowledge training was the wrong solution to address the gap in product sales. What was needed were solutions to address each of the causes we identified.
In the end, the following solutions were put into place—notice how each cause is addressed.
The bank’s marketing strategy was revised to address competition from credit unions. This strategy focused on the bank as a convenient one-stop shop, because the bank offered a broader range of products and services than the credit unions. Messaging from this strategy was placed into brochures, online courses, and more.
An online brochure rack, which could be maintained by the marketing team, was created. This rack only contained current, accurate product information.
A training program was developed and implemented. But, the focus was on diagnosing clients’ needs; additionally, the program was only delivered to certain bankers when their managers thought there was a need.
Performance Consulting: More Than Learning
When learning alone is not sufficient, a performance consulting approach is needed to identify root causes and select an appropriate set of solutions, increasing the probability that business results will be achieved.”
Want to find out more about performance consulting? Click here to read the full article.
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