Is Training Falling Short? Turn Up the Pain!

I just finished reading an amazing book, “Chase the Lion”, by Mark Batterson, where the focus is largely examining change…personal change to be exact. But the same principles he addresses are very relevant for shifting thinking in an organization. The thinking I firmly believe we need to change is how we attempt to build sustained capability in our respective workforces. Training, in and of itself, is not the solution!

There was one quote that tripped my trigger to share this post. “Until the pain of staying the same becomes more acute than the pain of change, nothing happens. We simply maintain the status quo. And we convince ourselves that playing it safe is safe. But the greatest risk is taking no risks at all.”

Who would’ve thought a story about a warrior by the name of Benaiah crazy enough to chase a lion into a pit on a snowy day found in 2 Samuel 23 had relevance worthy of a blog post on shifting a paradigm? Batterson writes that we need to “chase the lion”…and “run to the roar.” It’s about being bold enough to face fear. So what’s fearful about training?

How about relying upon training as the primary solution to overcome performance challenges and sustain workforce capability at the Point-of-Work?

How about the fact that knowledge retention degrades the ability of the workforce to perform effectively in just a few weeks?

How about the fact that training alone can only drive potential? Performance results only manifest at the Point-of-Work…not during…never during…training.

No measurable performance is generated during training. No sales close. No business liabilities are avoided. Creation of material waste is not averted. Key accounts are not saved. Customer satisfaction scores are not protected. Redundant work effort due to errors made and ensuing error isolation and correction are not prevented.

None of these tangible, business-impacting situations are overcome during training. And yet, we continue to train…continue to pour precious resources into development of training solutions in hopes for a different outcome. Why?

Maybe it’s because the pain of change is perceived to be greater than living with a workforce that is not sustainable. Are costly mistakes at the Point-of -Work seen as an acceptable cost of doing business? Are we comfortable with operating in a state where workforce performance is not optimized? Are we okay with pouring time, resources and dollars into a limited training paradigm and accepting the business impacts I just described? Maybe…just maybe we are so comfortable…so embedded in our status quo training paradigm an alternative is an unknown option? Maybe this list of impacts is not generating enough pain…enough to consider an alternative.

Dialing up the pain quotient is almost as important as making sure the right stakeholders feel it. That’s the role of a Performance Strategist; to identify, qualify, and quantify the Pain for the sole purpose of proposing an approach that calls for adopting a Performance Paradigm. And yes, that implies Change.

This Change implies taking the limits of a Training Paradigm and evolving it to a more holistic approach where a learning AND performance continuum is mapped from the “point-of-entry” to the “point-of-work”. The key point here is not to toss training, but to evolve it, and that requires integration of performance-focused assets that serve all five of Gottfredson’s Moments of Need. (See Chasing Sustained Capability for details)

So…where do we find the Pain in order to dial it up? Through holistic discovery. Accomplishing a performance assessment…not a training needs assessment…but an assessment that keys on performance gaps and their root causes. By doing this, key performance indicators are uncovered that can be tied to measurable business impact. Dialing up the pain is a simple four step process:
• Do the discovery…performance assessment
• Find the pain…root cause(s) of measurable performance gaps
• Do the math…use the KPIs associated with the identified gaps
• Drop the findings into the lap of somebody who gives a rip…gain a sponsor

What you now have in your possession are tangible seeds for a compelling business case and a sponsor to advocate a Change approach on your behalf…because A) They now have proof enough to give a rip…and B) Because they now can feel the pain and can articulate it up the line.

And what do you accomplish? Do you now own a fully adopted Performance Paradigm? Nope. Nott yet.

But you’ve identified the lion .You can hear the roar. Now it’s time to run toward it. Chase the lion. Chase it into a pit on a snowy day like Benaiah did. His reward for facing a fear facilitated his becoming King David’s personal bodyguard…and ultimately Chief of the Armed Forces under David’s son, King Solomon.

Your reward will likely not include cat scratch fever or leading an army, but there will be a component of fear and doubt to overcome because you are trying to promote a new approach…a new paradigm…one that only vaguely aligns with the status quo.

Is there risk involved? Certainly there is, but weigh that risk against the risk of not becoming the champion of a paradigm that drives measurable, sustainable workforce performance. And not just in that one instance, but leveraging that success to chase toward full adoption across the entire organization. Chase one…the rest will be easier.

Is it time to chase the lion in your organization? Methinks it is well past time to give chase. I’ve been chasing now for over a dozen years…having chased down several lions…I can say that it is worth running toward the roar. Let’s chase one down together and assess your organization’s readiness to chase down a new Performance Paradigm. Here kitty, kitty, kitty…

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker 
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning