Is Training the Cure-All?

When there is a gap between current and desired performance, the cause is often attributed to "the employee's lack of knowledge, lack of skill, or poor attitude.  Remedies typically take the form of training or counseling" (Nickols, 1986, p. 7).  Sometimes training is prescribed as the cure for every performance problem in an organization.  However, there are a number of factors that can either enhance or impede people's performance on the job. If the solution doesn't target the underlying cause of the performance problem, although the problem may be solved in the short term, it will undoubtedly reoccur.  Rummler (2006) asserts,

Gaps in human behavior, performance, and job results never take place in a vacuum.  They always occur in the organizational context of other performers, functions, processes, procedures, systems, policies, and management practices, and the cause of most gaps in jobs and organization results is a function of those many interacting factors.       (p. 989)   

(Lewis, 2015)

Drilling Down to Root Causes

PERFORMEX uses cause analysis tools like the Six Boxes Model below to drill down to the root causes of gaps between current and desired performance. The three boxes in the top row represent Environmental factors while those on the bottom represent Individual factors that can either enhance or impede exemplary performance. 

Although training might appear to be the answer to the performance problems described in the three scenarios to the right, will it actually solve the underlying causes?  Reflect on your own experiences.  What factors have prevented you or your colleagues from excelling in the workplace?  Following a review of the Six Boxes Model below, make some predictions about the underlying factors which are causing barriers to these employees' efforts at high performance.  Then click the + sign to see if you were able to drill down to the root causes of these performance problems.



Cost-Effective Solutions to Performance Problems Caused by Environmental Factors

Often when Environmental factors are the cause of performance problems, the solutions have zero cost.  In the examples above, the only cost involved would be for the company to purchase Marta a newer laptop.  However, the return on investment would be on-time deliverables for clients.  

Yes, Tom's manager is busy.  However, taking the time at the beginning of each project to really explain to Tom what she wants will save time later on by eliminating the need for multiple revisions.  Blanchard and Johnson (2003) state,

When you assume that people know what's expected of them, you are creating an ineffective form of bowling.  You put the pins up but when the bowler goes to roll the ball, he notices there is a sheet across the pins. So when he rolls the ball, and it slips under the sheet, he hears a crack but doesn't know how many pins he knocked down.  When you ask him how he did, he says, I don't know.  But it felt good. (p. 66) 

In Linda's scenario, the wrong behaviours are being rewarded.  By holding up the meeting until the stragglers arrive, the manager is actually rewarding their behaviour; the meeting begins as soon as they arrive.  When Linda, on the other hand, is on time, she receives the negative consequence of sitting around, wasting her time, waiting for the latecomers.  As Mager and Pipe (1976) wisely state, "Water the performance you want to grow" (p. 68).


Setting SMART Goals

Once the underlying causes of a performance problem have been identified, PERFORMEX will work with you to set SMART goals-- not only at the level of the organization but also "on the floor."  If employees are to contribute to organizational goals, they need to see how what they do every day can have an impact.  Chevalier (2010) states,

The reasonable goal should be stated in terms that the people doing the work can control.  If the overall goal is to improve profitability, the reasonable goal for manufacturing line people should be set in terms of productivity and quality.  Although improvement in these areas will have a positive effect on profitability and market share, production people are better motivated by the things they actually control. (p. 6)      

Designing, Developing & Implementing Evidence-Based Solutions

PERFORMEX will work with you to design, develop, and implement evidence-based training and non-training solutions that help employees improve performance-- thereby closing gaps, eliminating performance problems, seizing opportunities-- and ultimately achieving organizational goals.


Measuring Results

PERFORMEX will work with you to identify existing business metrics that can be used to evaluate the extent to which interventions are having a positive impact in terms of quality, quantity, time, and cost.   

Blanchard, K., & Johnson, S. (2003). The one minute manager. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Chevalier, R. (2010). Gap analysis revisited. Performance Improvement, 49(7), 5-7. doi: 10.1002/pfi.20160
Lewis, D. (2015, October 19). Can corporate training cure every company problem? [SlideShare slides]. Retrieved from
Mager, R., & Pipe, P. (1976). You really oughta wanna: Or how not to motivate people. Nursing, 6(8), 65-69. 
Nickols, F. W. (1986). The conditions of performance. Performance & Instruction. 25(10), 7-10. doi: 10.1002/pfi.4150251004
Performance Thinking Network. (2010). Six boxes approach. Retrieved from
Rummler, G. A. (2006). Chapter forty-two: The anatomy of performance model: A framework for consultants. In J. A. Pershing (Ed.), Handbook of human performance technology: Principles, practices, and potential (3rd ed., pp. 986-1007). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.