As a Leadership Trainer, I am often asked to address ‘performance problems’ where little analysis of the root cause of the problem has been undertaken. More often than not the problem can be addressed through effective and timely performance management procedures. Training may not be the silver bullet!

Mager & Pipe (Analysing Performance Problems, 1997), talk about seeking out the real reasons why people don’t perform the way they should, the true problems, and then being able to match the solution to the problem.

People don’t perform for many reasons; for example:

  1. They don’t know what is expected
  2. They don’t have the tools, space, authority
  3. They don’t get feedback about performance quality
  4. They are punished when they do it right
  5. They are rewarded when they do it wrong
  6. They’re ignored whether they do it right or wrong
  7. They don’t know how to do it.

Training, as an intervention, has its place in addressing performance problems, if there is a genuine skill deficiency and the non-performer has what it takes to learn what they don’t now know.

If they don’t have what it takes then no amount of training will bring about the change that you are looking for. You would need to change the job or change them!

So, the person is ‘right for the job’ and they have the capability, motivation, attitude to learn a new skill and they are trainable. In this case training is an appropriate option and by identifying the skills gap and the learning outcomes that meet the needs for both the individual and organisation there will be a ROI on a training solution.

If Training Isn’t The Answer, Then What Is?

We need to ask the right questions. Do we fully understood the root cause of the discrepancy in performance? By spending time and effort to fully understand and analyse performance problems, organisations can source and implement the appropriate solutions. This may be training, however, it may not!