The Convergence of Learning and Performance Management

The Relationship between Training and HR

One of the most important issues which Training organizations face on an ongoing basis is their relationship with the HR organization. In most organizations the VP of Training (or CLO) reports to a VP or Senior VP of HR. The two organizations are often linked closely and often share the same budget. Both focus on development and performance of people and both are usually staffed by individuals with background in people-related functions.

Yet despite their similar focus and function, the actual operations of Training and HR often differ widely. Our research in training governance indicates the two functions have different goals, different operational issues, and lead different daily lives.

How Training and HR Differ

Training HR

Key Goals Improve Business Performance by Improving Skills and Competencies and Identifying Human Performance Problems Develop high levels of retention, employee satisfaction, and service to employees.

Operational Issues Developing Programs, Running Programs, Measuring and Improving Programs Developing Hiring Processes, Payroll, Talent Management, Succession Planning, and Retention Programs

Technology Issues Implementing Learning Management and E-Learning Implementating HRMS Systems, Employee Portals, and Performance Management Systems

Organization Decentralized and distributed between "corporate" and lines of business. Distributed units have a lot of autonomy. Strategy and policy are set centrally with some distributed operations.

Training Managers live in the world of "training programs." They constantly think about what programs to build, how to manage and improve them, how to measure them, and how to better understand the performance issues which drive the need for new programs. Their technology investments focus on how to more cost-effectively build, deploy, manage, and improve training programs.

HR Managers live in the world of "human performance improvement" and "people processes." They think about improving the process of hiring, improving the process of talent management and succession planning, and reducing legal risk from errors in management processes.

These two worlds, while related, tend to operate fairly independently.

Until now. Something new is happening. Where the HR and Training communities can meet and align is in Performance Management.

In a recent survey of 135,000+ HR professionals, the #1 topic on their mind was "How to improve the performance management processes in their organization."

What is Performance Management?

The word "Performance Management" means different things to different people. For IT managers, it usually means software to improve the performance of their applications or networks. To executives, it often means managing the business "by the numbers" so that operational units can focus on meeting their commitments to the business and executives can be evaluated.

But to an HR or Training professional, the words "Performance Management" usually mean the processes and systems which are used to evaluate, coach, rate, and rank employees to increase their job performance. Training is always a critical piece of a Performance Management initiative.

There are many books written on the topic of "Human Performance," many of which include models which show how evaluation, coaching, and training all fit together. The ISPI model (one of many) is shown below.

Human Performance Models (ISPI) and Systems

As one can see from these models, they are complex. The actual performance of human beings depends on many factors - many of which are hard to address in a business setting.

L&D managers view "performance" from a consulting perspective: how can we improve job performance through training interventions? HR and line managers view performance from a broader perspective: how can we coach, develop, and manage people to improve their performance? The two come together in today's modern HR organization.

Why Performance Management is Heating Up

We are seeing a lot of interest in performance management systems right now. Many Training and HR organizations purchasing LMS systems are starting to ask vendors "What is your strategy for performance management?" These inquiries are creating a new set of requirements for the LMS market and they are heating up the highly fragmented market for standalone performance management systems.

Why Performance Management and Learning Management go Together

We often complain that enterprise software vendors try to do "too much." Each enterprise application itself is complex. When ERP vendors like Peoplesoft, Oracle, and SAP tried to enter the Learning Management Systems Market, for example, they found that it took many years to "get it right."

Performance Management applications, while less complex than Learning Management, have many issues of their own. They have very complex workflows (ie. the performance plan goes from manager to employee, is reviewed then by the manager, then is sent to a peer for review, then back to the employee, then back to the manager, and then to the manager's manager, then to HR, then ....... whew!!).

Learning Management Systems are often the systems which feed and support the Performance Management System. If your performance plan calls for you to become certified in an area, the LMS must schedule that course and report back to the Performance Management system that you are certified.

Different Approaches to Performance Management

We find that there are seven approaches to Performance Management. Basically they fall into the following categories.

· Goals Based. In this approach employees, managers, and executives use a system of "cascading goals." Each individual has their own individual goals (some are measurable, some are not), and each organization has its collective goals. By "rolling up" and aggregating these goals, managers and executives can identify problem employees, problem organizations, and misalignment. The system gives managers and executives a tool to make sure people are aligned and measured based on performance. Performance reviews and plans focus on these goals.

· Skills and Competency Based. In this approach, organizations establish standard skills and competency requirements for each job. People are assessed to identify their level of competency in each skill (usually by their manager, but sometimes by tests and peer reviews). The gaps are then identified and can be filled by training or other interventions. Performance reviews include assessment of these gaps and steps to fill them.

· Talent Management Based. Here the organization often uses ranking and rating processes to identify "high performance" and "high potential" individuals. These processes are used to motivate people and to identify key employees who are ready to take on higher levels of responsibility.

· Performance Reviews and 360 Reviews. The performance review, which is ususally the operational basis for performance management, is used in most companies - and it relies upon the 3 techniques above. Organizations often add 360 reviews and 180 reviews to this process, regardless of whether they use goals, competencies, or talent management.

Each of these approaches creates a dependency on the Learning Management System. Skills and competency-based performance planning means that the employee must identify training interventions that fill their skills gap. Goals-based programs often lead to employees need to improve skills by taking new courses or certifications. Talent management requires identifying employees who are certified and trained in certain business areas. And performance reviews always require a review of an employees' transcript and a view into their training plan.

More Research

Can vendors integrate these systems so they meet all these complex needs? Many are trying, and we see a trend toward more. Stay tuned as we start to identify key players in this emerging new market -- linking LMS and Performance Management systems into a "new breed" of LMS.

Roadmap of Training Planning and Strategy Research

From India, Gurgaon

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Hi I wanted to know to do you have some knowledge about LMS and LMS vendors and their ranking? Let me know. Has you company gone for a LMS, how did you zero on on these Thnks
From India, Thana

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