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 Strategist & Change Agent
Human Performance Outfitters, LLC
(317) 437-2555

Workforce Capability

  1. October 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Professional Football, continual training before the contest and NO training at the point of need…maybe. Practice. Practice. Practice. Train. Train. Train. Before the season begins, years before the season begins and it never ends while the season progresses. You never stop until you are through.

    Each player needs to practice what they should do when a situation arises. If not disaster ensues and it is never pretty. Examples abound every weekend of football at every level of compensation.

    Want to make training more effective? Tell your defense they aren’t as good as the other team’s defense. (Philadelphia?) Maybe they will not only train harder but actually use that training at greater efficiency when needed. Motivation always goes with training or it is just going through the motions.

    But there will always be the need for the coach to change things, to anticipate different actions but from the sidelines. Coaches never play the game, they observe, they analyze and they make decisions that everyone else second-guesses. But that is not the player’s job. They are to practice what the coaches say to practice and execute those actions when the time comes. Training to anticipate a need is good when done with the insight that you may need to change your plan of attack when you find you misjudged the need. But you should have planned and trained for that anyway.

    But what can really motivate training? What is the point of pain? Loosing, messing up before a crowd, being made a fool of. In the end it just devolves into pride and maybe THAT is what is missing the most in training; pride in wanting to do your job well.

    • October 24, 2016 at 8:59 am

      I hear what you’re saying, Larry, and agree in the context of the actual learner. My focus on dialing up the pain is to motivate the motivators…the key decision makers who set training strategy. To your point…in a football game the point of work is the playing field, so practice/training on plays and on-field situations all have to be practiced in advance of the game…maybe reinforced when rotated out for a play or two…or half-time. No argument there. But what is needed to motivate leadership to adopt a methodology where learning and support can be provided inside a workflow? THAT is a new paradigm and new paradigms are tough to adopt when the pain living with status quo is not significant enough to motive adoption. It may take someone who can see the entire “forest” of the ecosystem through an assessment to bring clarity to the “trees” dying through poor management decisions…or worse…no management decisions because subpar performance is acceptable. But…if you don’t “see” current performance as subpar, then where is the motivation? My point is, that “miss” needs to be highlighted and the pain articulated to at least consider that Change should be considered.

      Thanks for reading and dropping off a comment, Larry!

      • October 24, 2016 at 10:34 am

        Maybe that is why we love sports. Winners and losers are easy to determine and too hard to hide the results. Pain is loosing. No pain, no gain. 🙂

        Maybe you should look to sports for your ideas as there is lots of money and motivation in that area to succeed and it is hard to hide failure.

  1. October 30, 2016 at 1:59 pm
  2. November 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: