by Rob Zell

In part 1 of this series, we explored Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model and the importance of starting the analysis of a training need with the end in mind – what the business looks like and needs to be successful.  In this article, we’ll examine what happens when, during that analysis, performance consultants realize the solution is not as clear as initially thought.

First, they may discover that their clients are mistaken in their understanding of the skills that need to be trained. Business owners approach the training department and request training on a particular topic. In reality, the audience needs a different set of skills that may be more foundational or more advanced than the owners imagined.

Second, they may discover that the audience already knows how to perform the task; they simply choose not to, based on other business pressures. Let’s use hand washing among kitchen staff as our example. Cooks are taught to wash (and rewash) their hands every time they come into contact with a cross-contaminant (e.g. different raw products, dirty dishes, their own skin or hair, etc). They often wash their hands and then put on gloves as well. During the dinner rush it is highly likely that the line cook, who has been placing raw meat on the grill, will be asked to assist on another station. There is a very good chance that the cook will not rewash his hands because of the pressure to deliver under tight timeframes. Unless leaders create an environment in which hand washing is a higher priority than service time, the behavior will continue. Functional leaders may request more emphasis on hand washing for line cooks, when actually a thorough analysis indicates the need to create an attitudinal change among kitchen managers.

Third, as the analysis evolves, the intervention almost writes itself. Consider the example above. Once the analysis reveals the need to create a different mindset among managers, the intervention begins to take shape. Continuing to question the environment could uncover inconsistency in messages from leaders, incentive systems that encourage the wrong behaviors, or lack of situational awareness.

When the Analysis Points to a Non-Training Solution

The intervention that rectifies the issue may not be a training solution; rather it is an intervention by the training department to improve results. With the right amount of credibility, derived from knowing the business, and some influencing skills, the training department can partner with other business functions to create system/process adjustments, draft clearer communications and raise awareness.

Approaching the business as a performance consultant will help ensure that you maximize your impact. If you end up creating a training solution, then you do so because the analysis dictates that only through proper training will participants be able to succeed. Partnering with other business units can lead to high impact projects as well. These outcomes are measured against the time you invested into influencing and consulting with other business units rather than in products (manuals, e-learning tools, job aids) created.

A non-training solution can have an even bigger impact on success than the originally requested “training program.” The challenge some training organizations have is in how they measure their own success. If they restrict their work and measurement to the training solutions they create and deliver, they may find themselves tempted to develop training interventions for every request. Without addressing the deeper issues, these solutions fall short of creating Level 3 impacts.

As a training team, make time for solid analysis and be prepared to get outside your comfort zone to create interventions that may not be training-specific. By measuring success on the degree to which an intervention creates change, the team might find more opportunities to exert Level 4 impact on the business. In the end, you will build more credibility by partnering to solve the broader issues rather than providing a training solution that fails to bring about change.

What happened when the training you were given / gave was not the training that was needed? How was this fixed?