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Performance consulting vs. learning consulting

How to analyze your organizational development needs to best fill the gaps

Oct. 19, 2020 | By: David Fulle

two collegaues using sticky notes to strategize and brainstorm together

Learning consulting and performance consulting are two terms that many people use interchangeably. Yet, there is a subtle, but important, difference to understand. Learning consulting and performance consulting can both help organizations and departments in distinct ways. In this article, I’ll compare both concepts side by side and share how an analysis of your business may help you determine which is the best approach to move forward with your organization.

Learning consulting vs. performance consulting

Learning consulting focuses on specific learning that is needed and delivered through classes and training. Performance consulting focuses on where the gaps are in the company outside of training—why are they there and how can they improve.

Whether you’re deploying a new system that will impact multiple roles, or you need to train people on how to sell products, you’re undergoing a workforce transformation. During a transformation, you’ll likely need to upskill new talent, reskill existing employees and possibly change up job roles for the goals that you have set. Often, we notice that clients struggle with where to begin and don’t properly understand all the nuances and difficulties involved in transformation.

A learning and performance analysis may help you determine how to start and support your transformation. An analysis will help you:

  • Identify factors that impede performance, such as:

    — Not enough time or resources to do what is asked
    — Not having the right people with the right skills for an organization or department
    — Having people whose attitudes don’t align with the organization’s culture
    — When an employee does not have the tools or resources required to do the job correctly

  • Identify common starting points for learning (baseline) and create a roadmap for people to get from one position to another (e.g., upskilling in a role or moving from one job role to a completely different one)
  • Deliver onboarding programs that increase speed to market
  • Deliver customized, impactful training that aligns to specific business outcomes

There are three types of learning and performance analyses that can be carried out.

When to perform a training analysis

A training analysis is best for single solutions and self-contained systems implementations or business processes limited to one department, division or role, to result in the creation of a single training module.

How to know if you need a training analysis:

  • A specific training need has been identified.
  • This is typically part of course development.
  • You know and have analyzed the audience, tasks, desired modality and intended outcome.
  • You may have existing content to leverage.

Performance analysis: When to conduct one

A performance analysis is best for larger initiatives that likely involve multiple roles or divisions, resulting in the creation of larger curriculums and in the organization achieving strategic, organizational goals. The performance analysis looks at a gap in employee performance to identify why there is a gap, what the current state is and what the future state should be—all based on measurable results.

You should conduct a performance analysis when a specific performance issue has been identified that includes gaps in one or more of the following:

  • Skills/knowledge
  • Capacity
  • Motives
  • Incentives
  • Tools/setting
  • Data

Process analysis: When to conduct one

A process analysis is best for strategic initiatives requiring industry expertise with multiple roles or divisions. The process analysis will likely result in analyzing and improving business processes based on industry standards by helping organizations document and determine business process changes so that people can be trained accordingly. For instance, if you are undergoing a large transformation with a substantial impact to workflow or the need for new processes, a learning and performance consultant can analyze the processes to help determine the best way to train people on the change.

Our approach tailors learning solutions designed to accelerate performance in alignment with business goals and outcomes, such as:

  • Reduce onboarding time or revamp an onboarding program
  • Workforce upskilling by adding new and reskilling existing talent
  • End-user adoption of a new system or application

Our analysis process is based on the Association for Talent Development (ATD) Human Performance Improvement (HPI) model framework, which is a proven, industry-standard analysis approach.

Whether you are looking for a full digital transformation or trying to determine the proper consulting solution to pursue, an analysis is a great place to start.

David Fulle is a learning and performance solution architect for TEKsystems Learning Solutions and a credentialed ATD Master Performance ConsultantTM. He has spent the last 17 years building innovative learning and performance solutions that address complex business challenges. These programs focus on building a future workforce with tomorrow’s skills, upskilling new employees and reskilling current teams, or changing behavior needed to impact productivity.

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