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:
- What is the performance discrepancy?
- Is the discrepancy important?
- Is it a lack of skill?
- Were they able to perform successfully in the past?
- Is the needed skill used frequently?
- Is there a simpler way to do the job?
- Do they have what it takes to do the job?
- Is the desired performance inadvertently being punished?
- Is not doing the job rewarding in some way?
- Does doing the job right really matter?
- Are there obstacles to performing?
- 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.
*Figuring Things Out, A Trainer’s Guide to Needs and Task Analysis”, 1982, Ron Zemke and Thomas Kramlinger, pg 18