Why does performance improvement consulting fail so often?
Here´s an example: EVB operated a call center to handle customer service issues for a cable Tv company.The customer service representatives all were through the same training program,which focused on computer and software operation,product and programming knowledge,customer service skills,and communication skills.Nevertheless only 10 percent of the reps,were achieving specified goals.The other 90 percent were exhibiting inferior performance.So VCI contacted a consultant to develop training programs to improve the performance of the majority of the reps.
The consultant convinced VCI that training might not be the answer and that she should be allowed to use her expertise and what she called “Human Performance Technology” (HPT ) skills to determine the exact nature of the performance problem and how to solve it.VCI agreed and the consultant used a gap analysis model to identify the problem and select an appropiate solution.She employed her HPT education and training to determine a performance improvement (PI) intervention, which involved changing some of the procedures in the call center.VCI followed the consultant´s recomendations and implemented the new procedures.To everyone surprise and disapointment performance did not improve.Change had been made ,yet the results were not achieved… where was the problem?? ..what was left out of the performance equation that cause the “fail”??
THE WRONG FOCUS
These days,performance improvement efforts all seem to focus on the same things:the policies,processes and procedures of the organization or company and the models,systems and flow charts to be used to change those policies,processes and procedures when they are not working properly.Currents writers on the subject would have you believe that employees will improve their performance within the organization as long as the prescribed performance intervention is followed and the company´s goals and the individual´s goals and skill sets are aligned.Yet with all this adviced and with all the advances in human and electronic performance technology few companies are getting the results they want and expect.That is because the focus of most recent performance improvement publications,efforts and interventios is wrong.Many articles,reports and books talk about the Technology of PI(its models,systems and flow charts),the integration of a PI approch with a company´s current productivity processes and the training requiered to get performers up to speed.Similar publications such as those in the knowledge management and human resources area discuss how important it is to “capture” all the performers´ knowledge and information so that others will benefit from their “expertise”. Then, by somehow transferring this expertise performance will improve.
This is the wrong focus… It is too centered on the company that is using the Human Performance Technology (HPT) .With this approach no company can ever tell if it has too much technology (which means too many models or system changes),too little technology or just enough.Its leaders will also never know whether the intervention they selected truly had a positive effect on future performance because they are leaving out the most important part of the equation.