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Traditionally, many Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have taken a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing organisational compliance and performance problems: Professional Development Training (PD). The problem with indiscriminately applying this approach is that training is the right answer only when the problem is caused by a lack of knowledge or skills. As trainers and educators must understand that training does not solve problems associated with any of the following:

  • Inadequate information provided to trainers
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hiring the wrong person for the job (usually not enough relevant workplace experience)
  • Old, outdated tools and resources 
  • Incentive issues (no attractive payment incentive for critical tasks such as: training design, and evaluation including validations)
  • Lack of resources
  • Unclear standards (no internal communication about VET standards and regulations)
  • Confusing feedback 
  • Poor work environment
  • Management issues
  • Poor processes

Research indicates that more than 80% of performance problems are not caused by lack of skills or knowledge: therefore, training does not solve the majority of these problems. One objective, systematic way to fix an organisation's problem is to look the PD from a different perspective: the Human Performance Improvement (HPI).

The concept of HPI, performance consulting, or the performance approach-is not new. Individuals such as Thomas Gilbert, Joe Harless, Robert Mager, and Geary Rummler conducted much of the work that is the basis for the current focus of HPI in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The purpose of HPI is to improve organisational results by improving and organisational performance. Using a systematic approach, HPI aims to

  • Identify the goals of the organization
  • Define the gap between desired performance and actual performance
  • Identify the causes of the performance gap
  • Select appropriate solutions that will address those causes
  • Implement the interventions
  • Evaluate the results

As performance consultants, at Insources we don't jump to conclusions or act prematurely. On the contrary, we use a systematic, step-by-step approach that identifies desired RTO performance, the performance gap, and the root of the gap.

A systematic approach involves looking at a range of possible causes, withholding immediate judgment, and minimizing bias so that all of the relevant factors that may be contributing to the performance problem are considered. For instance, just because the employees could improve their skills and knowledge does not mean that is the primary cause of the performance issue and that training is the most effective way to address it. This type of approach takes several factors into account (not just knowledge and skill improvement), and it does not assume that what the client asks for (typically training) is automatically the appropriate answer.

Difference Between HPI and Training

According to Stolovitch and Keeps (2004), training is a set of "structured activities focused on getting people to consistently reproduced behaviors without variations, but with increasingly greater efficiency (automatically) even if conditions around them change." Training aims to improve individual's knowledge or skills, whereas HPI aims to improve individual organizational performance in relation to organizational goals. Although training must be tied to business results to be effective, the trainer's focus is on learning activities and producing training that addresses the learning needs of people.

HPI focuses more on accomplishments than behaviors. Accomplishments are the measurable outcomes of activities, whereas behaviors activities. The difference can be explained by comparing the grammatical differences. Accomplishments are nouns, such as a completed report, the safe arrival of passengers at their destinations, and a signed order for a product. Behaviors are verbs, such as typing a report, reading an instrument panel correctly, and explaining the features and benefits of a product. WLP professionals focus on accomplishments because they are what really matter in terms of organizational results, they are easier to measure than behaviors, and they enable objective measurement of any job.

In addition, HPI casts a wider net, recognizing that the performance of an individual or group of individuals may not be the source of an organization's ability to achieve its performance goals. In fact, the skills and knowledge of individuals are rarely the caused of performance issues. Far more frequently, processes and organizational structures stand in the way of organizational performance.

The outcomes of training are improved skills and knowledge of individuals that are tied to business results, whereas the outcome of HPI ( as PD should be) is the attainment of organisational goals or results.

Factors That Affect Human Performance

Most human performance models identify knowledge, skills, desire, environment, and opportunity (with some variation in the precise terminology) as key factors that affect human performance.

  • Knowledge relates to the cognitive abilities a performer needs to carry out the job and involves the development of intellectual skills. Examples of knowledge include understanding the principles of engineering or accounting, knowing how to organize plants in a garden, or knowing the steps to complete a process at work. The effects of lack of knowledge on individual performance are inability to identify essentials behaviors necessary for effective job performance; use of incorrect or inefficient actions on the job; and lack of familiarity with systems, processes, and tools.
  • Skills, which are closely related to knowledge, refer to physical movement, coordination, or the use of motor activity to accomplish a task. An example of a skill is the ability to operate a piece of equipment, which is called a psychomotor skill. Another type of skill set is interpersonal skills, such as the ability to negotiate, to run a meeting, or to provide a feedback to an employee. The effects of a lack of skills are similar to those of a lack of knowledge. Training can improve both knowledge and skills and can thus solve performance issues that are based on the performers inability to do a job correctly.
  • Desire is a factor that training cannot improve. The performer may be perfectly capable of carrying out the task, but simply is not motivated to do so. The lack of desire or motivation does not imply that the performer is lazy. Lack of feedback; competing priorities; conflicts between personal values and job requirements; rewards for incorrect behavior; punishments for appropriate behavior; lack of appreciation for accomplishments; and lack of adequate compensation, benefits, and other monetary incentives can all cause a lack of motivation. Motivation issues can originate at individual, organizational, and process levels.
  • Environment refers to lack of resources, such as training resources, equipment, hardware and software, and inappropriate physical conditions.
  • Opportunity relates to whether the performer is actually able o allowed to do the job. If the organisation does not see the need to change/update its operational arrangements he or she will never apply the new skills on-the-job. For example, an RTO send the trainers to learn about new procedures to assess LLN skills of training and students, but if the RTO don't change practices allowing those new procedures to be implemented the new skills will have no impact on the RTO operations.
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future of Learningby Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D. and Patti Phillips, Ph.D.

We have seen training evolve from a necessary expense to acquire critical job skills, to an investment in the organization through employee capability, growth, and development. Based on what we know from the past and what we now observe at the present, here is a summary of what we see for the future of learning in the next decades, particularly as it relates to performance of organizations.

1. Learning will continue to be a critical topic. The best way to gauge the importance of a process is to track the level of investment in the process. Organizations will invest more in learning in the future than they have in the past. The number of hours involved and the number of people touched by the learning process will also increase. Investment in learning and the extent of change occurring in organizations often go hand-in-hand. All organizations are experiencing rapid change in organizing and performing work. Most organizations are experiencing growth, which creates demand for new skills, information, and competencies. Investment in these areas continues to grow in all developed countries and will grow faster in underdeveloped countries. Most reliable reports of training investments show this happening on a routine basis now. Although learning investments take a dip during recessions, they ultimately come out of the recession with greater investment.

2. The way in which learning is delivered will continue to change rapidly. Three critical forces drive this change in delivery. First, the continued development of technology to support and assist learning has mushroomed, making it easier and more convenient to offer learning to large numbers of individuals at a low cost. The second force is the need to have job-related learning conveniently available at the time individuals need it. The concept of "just for me, just in time, and just enough" drives more on-the-job learning, assisted by technology. The third force is the continued pressure to control costs in organizations, sometimes prohibiting significant amounts of travel for learning. On a per person basis, travel budgets for learning are less than they were ten years ago, even when adjusted for inflation. This trend will continue. Executives will constantly look for ways to have the training nearby, either delivered onsite via international resources or remotely via technology.

3. Traditional classroom learning will continue to exist. There are limitations of what e-learning, mobile learning, and blended learning can deliver. E-learning will occupy most training in the knowledge or information needs in the future, and blended learning will support many programs involving skills and competencies. However, there is and will remain a need for face-to-face interaction in groups, although at a much lower investment level than in the past.

4. The connection between learning and performance will be more clearly defined. Decisions about investing in learning are based on a program's connection to performance and that usually connects learning to important work unit measures of productivity, cost, quality, and time. The measures roll up into important impact measures in the organization such as sales, production, quality, cycle times, efficiency, customer satisfaction, job engagement, and many others. This linkage is being made now, and will continue to be an important focus for learning and development providers in the future.

5. More than any time in the past, internal and external learning providers must show the value of this investment. As the learning investment grows, so does the need for accountability. Executives now know that business alignment is possible and some expect it from their learning and development teams. In large organizations, the investment in employee learning and development surpasses $1 billion US. With that level of investment, it is hard to imagine being unable to show the connection of that investment to the business with CFO-friendly data.

6. The chief financial officer will become more involved in the employee learning and development. While this may seem like an oddity, it is occurring now in some organizations. Three forces are behind this trend. First, the absolute investment in learning is attracting attention at the very top of the organization. Learning and development is considered a non-capital investment in an organization. For over 200 years, organizations have used ROI to show the value of the capital expenditure, such as buildings, equipment, and tools. Because the non-capital investments have grown so much and now over-shadow the capital investments, the CFO has been called in to help top executives calculate the value of those non-capital investments. For most organizations, the largest single expenditure is people. The second force is the lack of accountability for the learning and development expenditure. Usually at budget approval time, various business units and functional heads have to present the value of their budget, showing what the organization is getting in return for this investment. Most directors of learning and development or Chief Learning Officers have been unable to show the ROI with any credible data. This lack of measurement and lack of connection to the business often brings in some help, either wanted or unwanted, to address the issue. Usually the help is the chief financial officer, or his or her team. The third force is the importance of learning. CFOs and other top executives clearly realize the importance of critical talent, employee engagement, and employee loyalty. They see this as a huge advantage for an organization, although it does not appear on the balance sheet. Many of the accounting regulatory boards are tackling this issue, showing the connection between investing in employee skills and competencies and the corresponding impact.
These three forces are causing some very important changes. According to Gartner research, in a growing number of organizations, the HR functions are reporting to the CFO. Gartner explains that this trend is primarily caused by the growth in the investment and the lack of accountability for this function.

7. More leaders of learning and development will have operations and business backgrounds. Because of the issues described above, learning leaders (Directors and CLOs) are required to connect learning to the business as they assume executive responsibilities. Ideally they must understand the operations and the processes used in some detail and know where to find the information they need. They have to be connected to—and familiar with—the organization, respected by the senior executives, and know how to navigate the organization. This is difficult for someone who has had a career in only the learning and development function. Assuming the title of CLO brings even more need for accountability for this function. The "Chief Officer" position assumes a certain level of business acumen and alignment exists in the function. Evidence of such is required for the CLO to be an important executive.

8. Classic needs assessment will be replaced by performance analysis and assessment. Assessing learning needs is not enough in most organizations. The number one reason why a learning and development program fails to provide business value is because it was not connected to a business measure in the beginning. The process should start with understanding the business needs, working into performance needs, and then to the learning needs. Too often, an organization's starting point in the learning and development function is an executive request to implement a learning program. This approach requires the executives to sort out the situation and make the decision of what learning is needed, making the connection to the performance and business measures. Learning and development professionals must change some of the dysfunctional habits developed over time. These changes include probing the requester and analyzing the situation more thoroughly to ensure that the program is connected to the business in the beginning. Although this approach has been advocated for years, it is still not followed for most learning professionals. This will change dramatically in the future and will have a major effect on the upfront analysis team, who must now look at business measures first and learning solutions only if they are needed to drive the business results. Organizations will invest from a current average of 5% of the learning and development budget, upfront assessment and analysis, to an average of 10-15% in ten years.

9. Informal learning will continue to grow and be significant. Many studies now show that as much as 70% of learning occurs in informal settings through on-the-job learning, job aids, mentoring, and social networking, electronic and face-to-face. Informal learning, though convenient, inexpensive, and exciting to use, will face some challenges. The first challenge is to manage the process in any logical, structured way. If it is managed too much, it is no longer informal and it becomes structured. The key is to keep it informal, easy, convenient, and an intriguing way to learn. The second challenge is to show effectiveness and business value of informal learning, particularly the value of social media. Fortunately, some progress is being made, as it is possible to show the ROI of investing in social media, for example. The metrics, systems, and processes are in place to do it now, but few organizations are taking the time to do this. Because of the investment and use, this will change and be a routine effort in the future.

10. More learning and development will be decentralized. Organizations have gone through cycles, from centralized learning to decentralized. In some organizations, centralization capped with a corporate university setting. In the future, learning will be more decentralized. The corporate learning team will be very small, providing policies, standards, processes, and accountability, while the learning takes place in plants, divisions, stores, and regions—away from corporate. This approach is not only important for cost savings, but for the relevance of the content, connecting it directly to the needs in that location with the different twists, turns, and cultures that are very important. Large, centralized learning facilities, which were at their best at the introduction of the corporate university concept, will not be the common plans in the future. The most successful ones will have a decentralized model, with little centralized learning.

11. Outsourcing will dominate the learning and development field. Although outsourcing has grown considerably in all functions—especially with facilitators, in the future, analysis, design, development, delivery, and evaluation will enjoy more outsourcing. This is primarily driven by cost savings as it is cheaper for major organizations to use external sources. It is also driven by the need to tap into talent and expertise available on the freelance market. For example, freelance developers and content specialists have developed web sites to promote and sell their services. Evaluation will be outsourced more to maintain objective impact assessments of major programs.

12. The investment in measurement and evaluation will increase. Investments in measurement and evaluation have grown in recent years, but very slowly. Measurement and evaluation are linked, but are separate processes. Measurement is the act of identifying and collecting the data. Evaluation makes sense out of the data and translates results into important information to make decisions. The global average spent on measurement and evaluation is about 1% of the learning and development budget. For best practice organizations, it is 3-5%. In the future, this number will migrate to about 4-5% of the learning and development budget. This increased investment focuses on connecting learning to the business, addressing the higher levels of application (Level 3), impact (Level 4), and ROI (Level 5), as described in the ROI Methodology process.

13. More of the classic intangibles will be converted to tangible measures in the future. The good news is that every business issue connected to any type of learning process can be measured. Some are hard to measure, such as image, reputation, teamwork, and stress, but they can be measured. The difficulty is converting them to money so that executives can see the value of these measures. The intangibles are defined as those measures that cannot be converted to money credibly with a reasonable amount of resources. In the future, these two issues will be tackled by more organizations, and they will be converting data sets to money. This conversion is already happening with customer satisfaction, job satisfaction, brand awareness, and job engagement. Others such as stress, image, reputation, teamwork, cooperation, and communication will be converted to monetary value credibly with a reasonable amount of resources.

14. The job titles of performance improvement specialist, analyst, and coordinator will be common. These titles often replace some of the classic learning and development titles. In some cases, the learning and development function will become a performance improvement function. This has occurred to a certain extent, principally driven by the human performance technology movement, and in particular the work of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). Performance improvement is universal across all functions, and it is critical to ensure that organizations are effective, efficient, and productive. To do so will require specialists who understand issues and can develop proper solutions, which may or may not be learning solutions. The good news is that, although a solution to a performance improvement dilemma, problem, or opportunity may not be a learning solution, whatever solution is implemented will have a learning component. Learning will be an important part of these performance improvement initiatives and will be driven by people who have the performance improvement focus throughout the process.

Conclusion So there you have it. This is our view of the future in the next ten years. There are many challenges in this area, but we are confident that the profession will step up to the challenges and continue to make improvements. If you have comments that you would like to provide around these trends, please send them to our email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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We offer access to services and resources developed by the worldwide leader in measurement and evaluation. The Institute has 30 years experience working with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, industries and public sector organisations around the world.

The ROI Methodology is the most documented approach to measuring and evaluating all types of human resource programs. This includes learning and development, any kind of performance improvement initiative, leadership development and coaching.

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One of the greatest traps when thinking about bolstering a company's capabilities is focusing too myopically on the technology. Sure, great teams require technical wizards, but it turns out that in the eyes of employers hard skills take a back seat to personal qualities such as creativity, drive, and open-mindedness when it comes to employability.skills

This is the finding of a recent study from digital education company Hyper Island titled "Tomorrow's Most Wanted." In the study, conducted over a three-month period in 2013, Hyper Island surveyed over 500 leaders and employees across companies within the communication, tech, and business development industries, looking at future challenges and the skills and qualities needed to meet them.

Of those surveyed, 78% cited "personality" as the most desirable quality in employees, followed in importance by "cultural alignment," and then finally "skill-set." When it comes to specific personality traits, 14% of respondents listed drive as most important, followed by creativity (12% of respondents) and "open mind" (11%). The biggest overall industry challenge is finding, keeping, and developing the right talent, according to 20% of respondents; 10% of participants listed technical and digital development as the top challenge. You can read more findings from the study here.

Johanna Frelin, CEO of Hyper Island attributes the results, which some might find surprising, to the rapid speed of technological change. "The development of tech is so fast right now and there are no signs it will slow down. So skills become outdated very fast," she says. "But how you work, the ability for self-leadership, and being an effective team member will make you employable for a long time. A personality that is curious and can un-learn and re-learn according to new environments and realities."

Frelin says that this study helps define the idea of a digital professional in broader terms. "We are beyond looking at digital as something techy. We are relieved that the market finally understands that it is all about people and to have the right team players," she says, noting that the findings will help employers understand how to find the best talent, and will additionally help Hyper Island "'produce' employable and attractive talent and meet market demands."

Source: FastCompany

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