Friday, February 5, 2010

Taking Performance Issues Beyond the Training Quick Fix - Part II

When we last spoke, our topic was performance improvement. In that discussion we were building an action plan by asking strategic questions to fully understand performance issues. In asking those questions we reflected on training as a way to lead a horse to water. Thirst is one motivating factor that moves the horse. Communication and trust are other important factors influencing the process.

Improving performance demands that we not only look at people but also at the environment in which they work. Our current economy affects business in different ways and talent management is something we must tie directly into performance plans.

Have you considered how the recession is affecting employee motivation, communication and trust? Recent survey results published in Training and Development magazine indicate that 54% of the workforce is likely to look for new jobs once the economy turns around (ASTD, Jan. 2010, p. 27). This includes the employees you believe to be your high performers. You may be thinking -- if these individuals are doing well, why would they consider leaving?

There may be many contributing factors. The recession is taking a toll on everyone. Employees are feeling overworked, under-appreciated and/or poorly compensated. Your high performers are burning out. Some high performing employees have been unsatisfied prior to the recession and are quietly waiting for job opportunities to open up again. These individuals have adapted to challenges introduced by economic conditions and have the skills that will make them competitive in a growing job market.

My uncle told me, "A cowboy ain't nothin' without his horse." That is not to say that people are horses. The horse however represents an important set of skills and tools necessary for improved performance. Your employees influence and drive the leadership of your organizational performance success. Looking at the collective data influencing performance is much like the cowboy driving cattle. The goal is to influence the leaders of the herd; the rest will follow. Moreover, the horse is the tool to influence that performance. A cowboy needs to take care of that horse just as employers need to take care of their employee skills.

Reflecting on this discussion allows us to think about how we equip our employees during this recession. My grandfather also believed that the best preparation for tomorrow is the proper use of today. This is the best advice I can share as we strive to survive and thrive in this economy. With the attrition challenge eminently upon us, it is important to start planning today. Keep your high performers engaged and moving the organization forward. Re-evaluate motivational issues by adding strategic questions to your 5-W list (in my last blog). By including this aspect of talent management in your performance improvement initiatives, your employees will be more motivated to stay with your organization as the economy begins to recover.

Our guest blogger, Peggy Rang, M.Ed., is a Training and Performance Improvement Consultant.

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