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Training Company Topics: 3 Causes of Performance Gaps That Can Be Solved with Learning

…and how to know when the issue isn’t one that requires more training.

As a training company, we often see training initiatives used to develop employees and bridge performance gaps as a key change management strategy. In some cases, training as change management functions as a proactive effort, such as during onboarding, compliance, and sales training. Other times, efforts at change management may come as a response to emerging conditions. Organizations may choose to use upskilling, re-skilling and cross-skilling training to prepare employees to meet new needs within the organization, switch roles due to career advancement or to temporarily fill an opening, and/or to develop teams with cross functionality due to a bigger-picture view of processes.

Ideally, organizations would be both proactive and responsive with training initiatives. However, many organizations must also seek to save on budget and time – which makes sense. When budget, time, or other resources are in short supply, there is often a desire to fill skills gaps with on-the-job with informal learning acquired through job experience and peer mentorship. Those strategies are both vital and useful, but there are times when performance gaps must be addressed with new learning and training initiatives.

As a training company, we find there are three primary areas where training is necessary to open bottlenecks in productivity and fill gaps in knowledge. The following list takes a high-level view of problems that will likely feel very familiar, as all organizations move through these changes at one time or another.

Training company in a meeting

High-Level Causes of Reduced Productivity

  1. New Processes – Are your employees being asked to take on new skills added to established processes, or learn a completely revised process? Training is important to get employees both up to speed, and to give them opportunities to gain experience in a safe environment where they can make mistakes without causing harm or damage. Training helps increase time to proficiency, makes teams more efficient, and prevents errors.
  2. Revised Policies – Has there recently been a change in guidelines, standards, regulations, or laws employees are expected to follow and uphold? What about the practices that dictate how you use company information and technology, and/or who has access? Are there new checklists to follow, new people or departments that need to sign off on items, or other changes?  The need for training in this situation may apply to both internal and external policy changes. Use training to make sure employees are aware of changes, ready to implement new policies, and that all questions are answered so that the organization gains employee buy-in.
  3. New or Updated Equipment – Are employees familiar with the technologies they’re being asked to use? They may know the established, older process by heart, but not know how to use the new tools they’ve been given. Training can help them know where and how to find the information they need, how to submit items, or be familiar with interfaces. Training can help employees feel more confident and perform more effectively.

In general, all of the above situations may be caused in times of both minor and major transitions. For example, training is often a vital part of the process during a merger and acquisition; the implementation of automation; an upgrade in technology processes, such as a move to the cloud or a change to the file system; a rebranding or other crisis that requires an overhaul of the company culture; or a restructuring.

As an L&D professional, you’ll be able to contribute to increased productivity and achieve measurable results if you add training modules that demonstrate positive skills acquisitions in these areas. However, there are times when new training isn’t necessary.

Those times will generally fall into the following areas:

When is it possible that training won’t solve the performance problem?

  • When the issue is the result of an overly complicated workflow.
  • When the issue could be solved with improved communication. Unclear directions, lack of follow up from leadership, and poorly communicated decisions will all lead to poor performance in employees.
  • When the issue is an ongoing, unrecognized problem with culture and motivation.
  • When there isn’t support for training initiatives.

These general guidelines will help you analyze the need for new learning initiatives, or updates to content. As a training company, we often recommend adding a custom eLearning course is a good way to fill in skills gaps, as is building a learning library of resource materials.

More complicated training overhauls should be done by a training company with the skills to create simulations, videos, do a major content conversion, or create an entirely new training complete with a skills analysis.