There are some things as learning professionals we can control or influence but there are others that we feel we can’t. However, if we don’t recognise them or do anything about them, our program is unlikely to contribute to organisational change or results. So, let’s explore these and see what we can do to give our programs the best chance of success.
There are some things that you as a learning and performance professional can directly control, these are associated with the transfer of knowledge and skills to a participant. You can also influence their desire to apply their learning and to provide them with the confidence and commitment to apply. You will see that these elements form the basis of the New World Kirkpatrick Model at level 2. As discussed in a previous article you can also be the architects of a package of support and accountability in the workplace even though you don’t have the direct authority to do so. However, there are some things that you have little control over but can absolutely de-rail any chance of people actually doing what they need to on the job to create better performance and get great results. So, what are these and what can we do about them?
I want to paint a picture for you, we are briefing about a dozen general managers and operational area managers on the roll out of a coaching program that we have piloted in three areas. The results of the pilot were interesting, one program was having highly successful results, one was having limited results and the other the program had gone nowhere. As part of our evaluation, we found that the package of support and accountability was being led by the Area Manager with great success, in the other two however there had been an external audit of the facility that had taken the focus away from the coaching and in the other there was a restructure taking place. I was briefing the managers on these results, and I happened to notice that the most senior manager in the room was having a discussion with the two managers on either side of her. So, I stopped the presentation and asked if there was an issue we needed to discuss, her reaction was “We are not ready for this program”. It turned out that the exact same things, an audit and a restructure were about to happen in two of the regions we were about to roll the program out to.
Despite the impact of having to delay the roll out in these areas, this was a fantastic outcome. If we had not done this, the chance of success in these areas and the return on stakeholder expectations (ROE) would have been low. As it turned out we postponed the program for these two areas for a year but continued the roll out for other areas. The eventual outcomes for the program were fantastic to the point that and we have written a case study on this that you can read in the latest Kirkpatrick book, The Four Levels of Training Evaluation. You can also contact us if you would like to know more about this program.
So, what does this mean for all of our programs? To ensure the best chance of success we need to be really in tune with what is happening in the workplace and have created trust and partnerships within the business. We have to be honest with ourselves and with the organisation that if there are cultural, systems, process, resource, timing, or other issues that could impact the likely outcomes, we must seek these out and gain an understanding of them. Secondly, we must have the courage to address these with the organisation in a way that the organisation can agree and take action. This may even be at the expense of our program, as was the case of us having to postpone the roll out of the coaching program. But the alternative is to deliver a program that has very limited impact on the performance of the people and the subsequent results for the organisation. In Kirkpatrick terms we call these Necessities for Success and you can find out more about these by joining one of our next Bronze level certification programs.
In the next article I’m going to unpack the largest block of the New World Model, Monitor and Adjust, the last element of the model before we start discussing evaluation.