Performance consulting – your chance to make a real impact

Plenty of us go into L&D, HR and organisational development because we want to make a difference. After all, these professions are all about supporting and bringing out the best in people in organisations, and there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve made a positive impact on an organisation’s capability by developing its people. There’s also nothing more frustrating than knowing you’re doing your best and making no impact at all. Plenty of us have felt like that.

In this situation, you need a fresh approach – one that follows clear steps and focuses objective information gathered from the business. Performance consulting does exactly these things.

What is performance consulting?

Performance consulting starts from the premise that there’s a performance problem and we don’t know why,’ says Paul Matthews, author and performance consultant. The first step in the performance consulting process is to explore that problem and its causes.

Once you’ve established what you’re working with, you can you look at the result the organisation needs (as opposed to what it thinks it needs) and explore what needs to happen to reach that point. Here’s where formal tools such as needs assessments and gap analyses come in handy.

The answer to the problem doesn’t have to be learning. ‘A lot of L&D people I speak with about performance consultancy say they already do it – until I point out their bias towards assuming that the solution is learning,’ Paul explains.

Fixing problems – by whatever means necessary

Leaders can trip up here too, believing that the solution to the performance problem is learning without looking at other options. It’s easy to slip into order-taker mode here and not question this approach. The performance consulting model can help you step out of this mode and into the role of someone’s wants to make a difference to the whole organisation.

‘Your first step when asked for a learning solution is to drop into performance consultancy mode rather than take the order,’ says Paul.

‘Initially, you can do this under the guise of finding out more about the problem so you can design appropriate learning. You’ll know that you’re winning when people approach you with a performance problem they need help in solving rather than a request for a learning solution.’

Your ultimate goal is to add value to the organisation. The spinoff is that this adds to the HR and L&D functions. And when you see the results, you’ll feel pretty good too.

Paul Matthews is a keynote speaker at the NZATD conference next month. He’s the founder of UK-based consultancy People Alchemy and author of the forthcoming book, ‘Learning Transfer at Work’.