Many training departments are expanding their role to include performance consulting. Some trainers are even referring to themselves as performance consultants. Now, right off the top, let’s address the negative connotation associated with the term “consultant.” I’m sure you’ve heard it before—a consultant will borrow your watch, tell you what time it is, AND charge by the hour!
Of course, true performance consultants are agents of change, have excellent interpersonal skills, and are able to solve problems. Here’s a typical scenario for a performance consultant: a client approaches with a training request. The consultant determines WHAT is needed to improve performance. He/she will give training, if it’s needed, and help the client select and implement non-training solutions, if also needed.
If any of you were bold enough to approach a potential internal client, I can’t think of a better scenario to offer, than this: “Hi Client, I can work with you and your department, find out what’s not working well, identify the causes, offer the right solutions, AND measure the results of what I’ve done.” Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it’s not. Luckily, in our Consulting Skills for Trainers workshop, we provide a five-step model that sets you up for success.
The Collaborative Performance Improvement Model, as it is called, covers the following areas: Engage Client, Identify Needs, Determine Causes, Implement Solutions, and Measure Results. We also review how to manage your interactions with clients to prepare yourself, interact with others, reflect on the interaction, and adjust your approach.
Now, keep in mind, you may face some obstacles when making this transition. Some clients may not be open to this new position and may not support it. Let’s not forget that you were a training department and that’s how everyone identifies you.
But there’s good news! In Consulting Skills for Trainers we also discuss how to overcome these obstacles. Here are five tips to build support and minimize the politics around the transition:
1) Build awareness in the department and throughout the organization. Hold “brown-bag” lunches to explain performance consulting, show the benefits, and give examples.
2) Start slowly. Commit one half-day per week to performance consulting tasks.
3 ) Use performance language at all times. For example, ask, “What is the performance need?” instead of “What training do they need?”
4) Don’t underestimate the amount of time required to build strong client relationships. Plan extra time to meet with clients in order to learn more about the jobs and processes in their departments.
5) Develop or amend the department’s mission statement to emphasize its commitment to improving performance through training and non-training solutions.
Making the transition to performance consulting is just one way to increase your credibility and add value to your organization. Some of you may already be doing this work, without the title. So, have you made the formal transition? How did it go? Let’s hear your success stories and don’t worry, there’s no need to share your hourly rate!
For tips on researching your organizations needs through performance consulting, have a look at this blog from my good friend and colleague, Melissa!