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This past week my husband and I were having dinner at a restaurant. We felt sorry for the person waiting on us as she struggled mightily in what was obviously a new job. My husband, a retired instructional designer and performance consultant, was irritated that our server hadn’t been provided with the performance support needed to succeed in her job.

I asked him, what would you have done differently? He immediately launched into how an integrated performance support solution could have helped because training (“how to do”) was only a part of the solution set.

Geary Rummler once said, “If you put a good performer in a bad system, the system will win every time”. And in our restaurant experience, the system (a busy floor filled with hungry customers) won over a well-intentioned employee.

For those of you who find themselves needing to train your employees or needing to create a performance enabled environment, there’s a book by Ron Zemke and Thomas Kramlinger called “Figuring Things Out, A Trainer’s Guide to Needs and Task Analysis”.

In it, there is a list of performance questions created by Robert Mager and Peter Pipe* that have formed the backbone of many performance approaches. These are good questions for you to ask at the next training meeting, and if you are a line manager, you’ll probably scare the training person by asking these.

12 Performance Model Questions:

  1. What is the performance discrepancy?
  2. Is the discrepancy important?
  3. Is it a lack of skill?
  4. Were they able to perform successfully in the past?
  5. Is the needed skill used frequently?
  6. Is there a simpler way to do the job?
  7. Do they have what it takes to do the job?
  8. Is the desired performance inadvertently being punished?
  9. Is not doing the job rewarding in some way?
  10. Does doing the job right really matter?
  11. Are there obstacles to performing?
  12. What are the limits on possible solutions?

What makes these questions important is that your performance model informs your approach to all things learning and beyond. If you don’t have a solid starting place, forget everything else. If you do not have a performance model for your team, you should consider developing one.

And these 12 classic questions are a good place to begin.

Be Intentional,

*Figuring Things Out, A Trainer’s Guide to Needs and Task Analysis”, 1982, Ron Zemke and Thomas Kramlinger, pg 18