Engagement Lacking? Try Enabling the “DO” at Point-of-Work

Each morning’s routine involves a high dosage of caffeine to wash down my bacon and a bit of trolling LinkedIn and my networking groups for validating data that I’m not crazy. Some of you who read my blog regularly may have the opinion I’m fighting a losing battle, but honestly, I am crazy – crazier than a rat in a tin can, but “my crazy” is based on an unrelenting passion around evolving thinking in L&D to include Point-of-Work (PoW).

On my third cup, oddly enough, I found a shred of evidence in an article  by Corporate Rebels who surveyed over 60 organizations looking for trends impacting employee engagement. How did I link engagement to my Point-of-Work infatuation? That’s where crazy filters what I see and how I think.

In their article “THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORKPLACE” – December 3, 2017 There were eight categories of findings, each revealing challenges in engagement, but there was one category out of eight – Talents & Mastery – that caught my eye. Those findings showed…

  • 67% do not receive enough training to be able to perform their job properly
  • Only 33% of the workforce can fully utilize their talents at work

I can see all sorts of implications from just these two findings alone that challenge employee engagement.

Hear me out – this is how I see engagement at PoW representing a really significant opportunity for L&D.

A Training Needs Assessment is NOT going to deliver the mail; however, a Learning Performance Assessment targeting role-specific/task-centric challenges at PoW will reveal sources of frustration otherwise overlooked…defaulting to explanations of failure based on the inability of training to equip the performer to perform…the quality of training…the poor training experience…yada…yada. So…what should we do? Where do we look for answers?

We dig deeper with discovery at PoW!

During learning performance assessments, I always ask the performers if they felt they received enough training to be effective on day one in their respective role. The responses are reflective in the survey percentages shown above…BUT…when I take a deeper dive, the complaint was more like “We did not get enough of the “right” training…”

Right training?

Hardly. The “right training” complaint only holds water if all involved buy into the myth that training drives performance on the job. It doesn’t. But if that paradigm forms the basis of your belief system, why would we expect a performer to find any other reason than defective training? I could not do the job so obviously something about the training must’ve sucked!

We shouldn’t expect any other reason…because that’s the myth that exists today, and it will always drop a similar answer at your feet because trainers believe it…leaders believe it…and trainees all expect training to drive performance. No one really recognizes the only thing Training drives is a contribution to POTENTIAL. That said, I would expect 67% as found in the survey; even higher would not surprise me. Truly…performance does not happen…or CAN happen until a Performer actually DOES something…correctly…at their PoW.

When only 33% feel they can utilize their talent at work, at least some are speaking of Point-of-Work…that too tracks with the results of adhering to the training paradigm myth. Not so much on the myth, but on how much “trained knowledge” effectively transferred could be retained in heads and hearts long enough to apply it at PoW.  Certainly, there are other reasons to consider as well, like manager support, access to the right technology and apps, broken processes, etc. But if they blame training because they were not prepared to utilize their talents, who’s to blame? L&D takes it in the shorts once again.

In my learning performance assessments, I also examine employee turnover; specifically, why a performer leaves a role. High on the list is a feeling of frustration. Frustration comes from a number of things, not the least of which are:

  • I did not get enough training which translates to I was not prepared to DO my job.
  • Not enough support OTJ which translates to Not enough help to DO my job when I need it.

If performers are frustrated for these reasons, does it surprise anyone else that engagement is going to suffer? Again, there are other sources of frustration, but it often begins with a disconnect between the setting of work expectations from the time of Learner onboarding to the downstream, post-training support of the Performer at their respective Points-of-Work. When failure happens at PoW, so does engagement. When engagement is lacking, frustration grows, and resumes get updated to search for something less painful.

My point in this little rant points to adopting a practice of supporting Learners at their Point-of-Entry (PoE) – (Onboarding and first-time learning) through becoming Performers at their Point-of-Work (PoW) – (Competent, sustainable performance on the job).

This practice treats the PoE-to-PoW journey to reaching sustained competency as a Learning Performance Continuum where intentional design embeds a thread of continuity throughout and emphasizes DOING the job.

Role-specific, task-centric learning assets embedded with performance support provide the basis for that thread of continuity I mentioned, especially when wrapped in scenario-based activities. This is the core of a paradigm shift toward driving and sustaining performance outcomes. There seems to be a lot of articles about creating learning programs that engage the Learner. We all want engaged learners, but I advocate that it’s bigger than that. I want engagement at PoW too!

If we are really serious about engagement, let’s focus on giving the workforce what they want…success at their respective jobs.

Stop placing emphasis on teaching about the job and emphasize how to do the job at PoW.

Teach them how to use the support technology. Teach them what support resources are available – when to access them – how to apply them at Moment of Need. And let’s provide a feedback loop to measure accessibility at PoW, task-relevance, and effectiveness at Moment of Need.

Want engagement? Engage with your workforce at their PoW and become intimate with their Moments of Need. Enable them to DO the job and your payback will be deliver increased engagement of your workforce.

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