Why do most organisations jump to learning solutions too quickly?by
- 'we' - shows that they have not abdicated responsibility for the performance problem
- 'An issue' - shows that they recognise that there may be multiple causes
- 'work with us'- indicates they expect you to be a trusted partner
- 'any learning needs' - demonstrates that they recognise that learning solutions may not be needed
- 'as part of our solutions' – reflects their adult recognition that they are still accountable for the performance and implementing a range of solutions
- 'They' – the client has already decided who the target group for learning solutions are
- 'need sales training' – they have selected the solution and method and expect this to solve the complex performance problem on its own
- 'you get it organised' – you are now responsible for implementing the solution with no further involvement from themselves – you are a 'pair of hands' not a trusted advisor
- 'I have had the budget agreed by the exec' – I am more powerful than you
- 'By June' – I have made a commitment for delivery which I expect you to keep for me
Forces which encourage innocent solutioneering
- The human desire to make sense of complexity, to turn the fluid into concrete, randomness into patterns (Gestalt)
- Pressure in the organisation to come up with solutions rather than problems
- It just the way things have been done in the past
- How the L&D function has positioned itself as the organiser of instants solutions e.g. 'sales training'
- Line managers feel it is their job to analyse business problems and do not see why they need to share this with the training supplier?
- We all talk in generalisations rather than detail - "we need sales training" is merely a handy way to discuss a complex topic
- We all jump to conclusions too quickly and find comfort in framing problems as solutions
- In order to protect our self-image we project onto others, deny that we have problems and and avoid the effort of difficult changes that we have to make
Or it could be deliberate manipulation...
- 'They need' – projects the problem onto someone else's inadequacies, so the spotlight will not be on me
- 'sales training'– deflects the spotlight on to an acceptable solution that people will probably not challenge and someone else has to implement
- 'can you get it organised by June' – deflects the responsibility from me, sets up the supplier with a deadline and sense of urgency so they face the possibility of failure
- 'I have the budget agreed by the exec' – shows that I talk to the executive and you do not: do not question me, this is a done deal – I have the budget owe to see this through
How do we turn people around from innocent solutioneering and deal with performance problems rationally?
- We do not challenge the fantasy but work with the energy of the quick fix solutioneering by working with urgency
- Recognise the suggested solution but do not accept responsibility (by repeating the client's words)
- Ask open questions to get the client to open up around the real performance problem without challenging them eg "Who needs this training?"
- Encourage the client to work with us to map out how they see the problem
- Build trust by active listening and authenticity
- Build enough rapport so that we can help the client face up to the real problem – "what is happening now?...what do you want to happen?”
- Quantify what this (the performance gap) means to the client "What will this cost if we do nothing?"
- Use a rational/diagnostic approach to investigate causes for the performance gap and link together a range of solutions including management action (by the client and any learning solutions
- Build an adult-adult relationship with client so they respect your partnership in working with them to improve the performance and results of their team
- More effective/focused L&D solutions
- Increased credibility of L&D
- Better management support around L&D solutions
- L&D seen as part of performance improvement and measurable business successes
Chartered Business Psychologist
Former Training Manager and CEO of ACT e-learning
Author of "Improving Employee Performance" and "How to be a True Business Partner"
Provides consulting and skills workshops for clients who want to adopt a Performance consulting approach