POINT-of-WORK ASSESSMENT:   People & Capability

This post is another snippet from the Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) Workshop and focuses the Knowledge Worker and the human attributes that influence roles and capabilities at Point-of-Work. Typically, when we (L&D) consider the “People” variable in our training solutions, key focus is on the Learner and the necessary job-related knowledge transfer requirements. That’s not wrong; it’s just not enough…if sustained and measurable workforce performance at Point-of-Work is the end-game. In this narrow focus we miss multiple influencers that either drive or restrain productivity/performance. I think it safe to say that raising workforce competency takes a village. That leaves us with a pivotal question, “Who is the village?”

Figure 1

As you see in Figure 1, four clusters of attributes specific to human influences on the performance of the Knowledge Worker. The degree of influence varies, some more direct than others, but suffice it to say, none should be discounted or overlooked; therefore, should be included in every PWA effort.

Roles & Responsibilities

Obviously, we must clearly understand who are the Primary PerformersWho does the work? – Who has their hands on the shovel and tasked to dig the holes?

Not to be overlooked are those individuals (likely with different roles and responsibilities) who are Secondary PerformersWho supervises the Primary Performer? Who coaches? Who mentors? Who supports moments of need during the workflow?

Further downstream (or even upstream) there may be Tertiary Performers who have interdependencies that should be considered – Who are the end-consumers of the Primary Performer’s output? Do vendors play a role? Are there other entities that could benefit from the Primary Performer’s solution? Etc.

Team Dynamics

In some ways Team Dynamics overlap with Environment & Culture when you consider things like Engagement and Motivation. And it’s important to note, I’m not talking about engagement in the process of Learning, but the process to achieve success at the Point-of-Work. Team Dynamics extend beyond the concept of roles when you consider the impact on the Primary Performer on a personal level like with Career Development and Performance Management interactions. Are these interactions built on consistency, integrity and free from fear? Etc.

Do Primary Performers work in an environment where there are Trusting Relationships with managers and peers. Do the Primary Performers have the opportunity for Collaboration and build relationships through Peer-to-Peer Networking? Does the organization facilitate the ability for Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing? Etc.


It’s funny how Leadership is often the requestor and at the same time part of the restraining influence to productivity and performance. Sound like a mine field? It can be if findings are flavored with blame and the true restraining attributes are not the ultimate focus. Clarity of Performance Expectations often surface in the PWA. Do Performers have clear expectations of what they are to do? Do Performers have a clear picture of “What good looks like?” Do Primary Performers receive enough active supervision to ensure clear direction and reinforcement are accessible? Is feedback immediate and relevant to performance outcomes? Etc.

Performer Capabilities

Performer Capabilities deal directly with “readiness to perform” as opposed to “completed training”. Training obviously is part of competency development; however, it is not the silver bullet. Competency is reached over time and through hands-on experience at the Point-of-Work along with the mistakes and failures along the way. Are we aligned with the right competencies? Have we identified the most impactful mistakes?

The PWA is designed to discover those mistakes and refine both training and performance support assets to eliminate/minimize their occurrence. Here are a couple of questions only Primary Performers can answer specific to their capabilities. Do Primary Performers feel like they were equipped to do their jobs after completion of training? If not, what was missing? What would have made training more effective? What did they need more of or less of during training? Now that training is behind you, what would be most helpful in your job role? Etc.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve often read corporate vision statements and have even been part of organizations that boast “People Are Our Greatest Asset”. That’s great, and it should be a Truth that is practiced not just spewed. Sorry if that’s too harsh, but a more believable Truth, and even harsher…though it is either ignored or not even on the radar…reads something like this: “People Are Our Greatest Asset, and We Will Train Them to the Point of Being Our Greatest Liability”.

Clearly that is not anyone’s intent; however, it represents a Truth when we rely upon a Training Paradigm to inject competency into our workforce to sustain workforce productivity and performance. Can we handle the Truth(s) of a Training Paradigm?

  • Every organization owns a Dynamic Learning Performance Ecosystem
  • Training drives potential – not Performance
  • Performance manifests only at the Point-of-Work
  • Knowledge retention degrades faster than Performers can APPLY it at Point-of-Work
  • Competency is reached over time on the job – At what cost due to errors and mistakes?
  • There are 5-Moments of Need and Training can only address 2 of them
  • Workforce sustainability & value generation happen at Point-of-Work & L&D is MIA?

If any of this sounds like I’m bashing the L&D profession, that’s not my point at all. Make no mistake, I’m bashing alright…bashing big time…but am only bashing the paradigm of Training that limits our ability to accelerate productivity and performance at Point-of-Work where we should be aggressively enabling and facilitating Knowledge Workers to create measurable, sustainable business value. Those outcomes are a product of adopting a Learning Performance Paradigm anchored around Point(s)-of-Work.

Thanks again for reading. As always, I welcome thoughts, comments, ideas, and/or push-back as you are so moved.

Take good care!


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