Although this sounds like a cheer on the sidelines of a football or rugby game, this could also be your mantra as a performance consultant when encountering resistance from your client!
To ensure you are ready to take on this challenge, answer this question: Why is the L&D function possibly the only place in the organization that allows outsiders (people from other departments) to come in and tell us what to train, how to train it, when to train it, how many people will the there, and how much it will cost? We would NEVER think to walk into sales and marketing and say, “Ok, starting right now, you’re going to use THIS Digital Marketing Funnel to attract and retain THIS MANY web-based clients using THIS budget.” Or how about walking into your Finance Department and announcing, “For the remaining quarters of the year, X reports will be generated using THIS data and will be distributed to THESE departments once a week.” If we wouldn’t THINK of doing something like this, WHY do we allow others to do it to us?
Okay – now, ready to move on?
One of the hardest things to do when negotiating with your client is to push back when they tell you what training class to schedule, when to schedule it, who will be coming and how long it will be! This pushback involves you taking a big breath and remembering your role in the organization: to improve performance outcomes. Therefore your job is to help your client focus on performance outcomes. Although this push back will be met with resistance in most cases (it's always a training issue, right?), it's actually a positive thing. This is your signal to step up and do a little coaching. Remember, most managers/supervisors are not performance experts. That's where we come in.
How to accomplish this? Help clients identify performance indicators. Properly identified performance indicators will help you sail through this process and take you all the way to the finish line (evaluation).
A performance indicator is a solid measurement of an outcome of performance such as turnover, productivity, absenteeism, customer service, client engagement, etc. Helping your client determine the performance outcome he wants will begin to take his focus off training and onto how to solve the performance problem keeping him from the outcome he wants. What if he still insists it's a training issue? Try using the phrase, "I'd like to take a bit of time to customize and tailor the approach for your team."
Once you've identified a performance indicator, you're off and running to the next step: a deep dive on diagnostics to uncover the real issue. Start with performance analysis, which will help you divide the issues into skill issues and environmental barriers (including the supervisors). Make sure you’re speaking with the target group as well as those that work above and below them to get an accurate snapshot of what is really going on. Remember that perception is reality n this process! You may think some comments are way off base, but look at the reason behind those comments. Perception is a very individual thing – where we all live 24/7.
Once you have ALL of the issues identified it’s time to bring in your client and discuss your findings, get agreement and determine the best approach to solving the performance discrepancy.
From this point, you know the drill: development, if any, implementation, follow up and don’t forget evaluation!
So next time you find yourself faced with resistance, remember: your role is NOT to take out the ‘training Band-Aid’, but to educate, coach and help your client discover the real issue, address it and get everyone back to top performance!
Maria Chilcote & Melissa Smith
The Training Clinic