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Is Learning Enough?

December 29, 2010

The success of any organization depends on the people. So the goal of any organization and the individuals in the organization should be to consistently perform at their highest level. How is the performance of individuals in law firms today?

Learning is without a doubt important to performance. But it doesn’t always translate into, or guarantee, improved performance. Learning alone is not enough.

Law firms invest a lot of time and resources into training and learning initiatives…classroom training, distance learning, e-Learning libraries, assessments, certifications and rollout training…only to find they are still not getting the level of performance they need to meet demanding client needs and remain competitive.

What we need to be doing is focusing more on the performance. Helping people take what they have learned and transfer and adapt that knowledge into their daily work. For our learners to achieve better performance, they need to become competent in what is required for their work flow. In the world of learning there are two stages for the learner – first is mastery, basically the acquisition of knowledge. The second is competency, when the learner can apply and adapt what they have learned to their world.

This is where performance consulting comes in. Our training organizations need to look more at performance as a compliment to the learning strategies they currently have. By focusing on performance, the learning organization will have a greater impact on the success of the firm. The performance consultant plays the role of helping the learner get from mastery to competency.

A good performance consultant is a blend of the following:

  • Expert – can get and interpret data and facts
  • Facilitator – can manage group dynamics
  • Critic – ability to identify right from wrong
  • Doer – takes responsibility for making things happen
  • Observer – can watch and learn to gather facts before making changes

What a performance consultant looks for is more than just mastery of a learning topic. They need to also look for the following:

  • Do people have access to timely and relevant information?
  • Are there consequences that reinforce the new behaviors and better outcomes?
  • Do people get clear and consistent direction?
  • Are our processes well defined and efficient?
  • Do our people have the resources and skills they need to be proficient?

Remember, learning is still key, but it is not enough to increase performance. Consider becoming your firm’s performance consultant.

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