Performance Consulting: One Organization, One Process
Many technology companies organize departments along functional lines. Common corporate departments for technology companies are information technology (IT), business processes, human resources, and information development and training. Typically, departments operate independently within their own areas, though most companies establish processes to resolve interdepartmental conflicts.
As an organization grows, corporate departments divide rapidly like biological cells into business units that are then further subdivided into work groups. Work groups are differentiated by increasing specialization, becoming farther removed from the organizational whole. In these circumstances, it is the rare company that can identify (much less implement) strategies to address complex human performance issues that cut across departmental lines.
Take the example of a vice president of operations who must meet separately with individuals in various roles from different departments to present similar information about business plans, goals, and strategies. When structure impedes efficient operations, a human performance expert may be able to help. A performance consultant’s role is to understand organizational systems from the bird’s eye view and apply this perspective to eliminate barriers that cause organizational inefficiencies.
In “Performance Consulting: One Organization, One Process” (Training & Development, August 1999), performance consultants Tom LaBone and Jim Robinson offer a unified approach to human performance consulting. Their goal is to help consultants help corporate divisions work together as a single unit to solve interdepartmental performance problems. The authors refer to this goal as organizational alignment and they detail the steps for performance consultants to achieve it.
First, the authors suggest, is the partnership step where the consultant spends significant time building relationships within the organization to study and learn the business, its needs, and the cause of the problem.
Second, is the assessment step, where consultants collect data upon which to base recommendation.
The third step in LaBone and Robinson’s performance consulting approach is intervention. The goal of the consultant’s recommendation is to get departments to work together to accept one process, called a human performance improvement (HPI) process, to address the performance deficiency at issue. An HPI offers a multiplicity of specific interventions that will be applied strategically throughout the organization. These interventions can relate to leadership areas, policies and practices, learning, human resources, incentives, work environment, or a host of other matters. The interventions are all designed to remove barriers to effective performance.