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To train or not to train? On performance issues and task analysis


An article on USA site Pro2Net reminds us that training is not the be all and end all when dealing with performance issues.

To Train Or Not To Train, by Michael S. Grollman argues that problems with handling performance issues can often be traced to managers failing to understand what their employees actually do.

The reason for this, Grollman argues, is not because managers are ignorant, but because concentrating on the bigger picture often obscures the everyday tasks which contribute to the final result. If there's a problem with the final result, therefore, it becomes very difficult to identify which of the contributing factors was responsible, and much easier to expect training to provide a 'quick fix'.

Grollman suggests that the best way to deal with this is to break down the tasks required to reach a goal into small sections to discover where problems are arising - something which can help managers to understand the sequence of tasks involved (and helping to define job roles in the process). He goes on to talk about task analysis in some greater detail.

It has to be said that this approach still means that issues arising with the individual still need to be dealt with seperately - the reasons behind tasks failing to be performed competently can be many and complex. In addition, this way of thinking is obviously going to work better for some industries than others - a clear analogy can be drawn with work carried out on a production line, but it's less clear how to apply it to job roles which are more autonomous and fluid.

To conclude, Grollman says that "the idea that training won't necessarily fix all performance deficiencies is a difficult concept for most business people to get their arms around, largely because it flies in the face of the logic that practice makes perfect. The fact is, there can be any number of causes for employee performance deficiencies. It is critical that the people who support these employees -- both management and training staff -- understand and accept this concept."

For further discussion on the topic of managing poor performance, read the workshop transcript from the session held on Tuesday 19 September.


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