As a former training exec, very few words in our space scare me. One such, or actually two such words that do, are performance management. Talk to anyone who runs training and ask them if they want to work under L&D or HR and see them cringe and respectfully decline.
Ask them if they see themselves training folks as part of or ALL of performance management and view disgust and hear statements to the contrary.
I still remember the days of folks saying that LMSs and thus all learning systems would soon become performance management platforms, and that the days of LMSs are dying.
I scoffed at this idea. But, now I am starting to worry. Because now, performance management is being shoved into this box known as learning, and learning , led mainly by folks with an L&D background (not everyone mind you, but plenty) is being morphed into performance management.
Training is not L&D, nor is L&D a form of training. And despite what I anticipate as massive disagreements, training is different than learning. When you provide safety courses, do you call it a safety learning program or a safety training program? When you want your new employees to understand how something works or how to do this or that, do you refer to it as new employee training or new employee learning?
Learning to me is a subset of training. We train you to do better not just as your job, but outside of that job, to make you well-rounded. From that training, you are learning, you are acquiring new knowledge and new skills, both personal and professional.
I mention this, because what is starting to happen in the space of e-learning specifically is the idea that learning oversees or trumps training. LXP Vendors seem focused on L&D more so than training, and as such, items such as “performance management” are rearing its unneeded head.
When you talk to many vendors it is clear that they do not know or understand the differences between someone who is L&D with a background in OD (Organizational Development) and someone who is training, and therin lies a big problem.
LXPs (yes, I succumb to trying to refer to them as LEPs) focus on L&D, and as a result, I believe, are slowly changing the learning to be about performance management, yet, and herein lies another problem, assumes that performance management is about better performance in their job.
That is to me, changing their (LXP) approach, because if I am truly learner-centric and interested in topics that are not related to my job, then it isn’t about performance management (which is tied directly to your job and making you the best at what you do – in theory), it is though about acquiring knowledge, attaining it, acquiring more of it, comprehending it, synthesizing it, and then expanding it to attain more knowledge and yes skills.
Skills though are not just physical skills, they can also be knowledge driven skills. And here is again, where the disconnect exists between the usage of performance management often tied into L&D, unfortunately, and training.
Excluding that you usually will find someone with a training background running B2B/B2C with e-commerce (for the most part), when it comes to employee only, you might have HR running new employee training (here it is again), while L&D focuses on everything else employee-related.
HR is a perfect spot for performance management, but are we becoming so saturated with folks who are new to e-learning and thus are taking some components of performance management thru L&D into their own online learning programs and pushing it as though it is a form of learning?
I think the answer is clearly yes.
I am interested in audio editing using old-school techniques (I have my razor and splicing machine ready). It has absolutely nothing to do with my job. It is just an interest. Is it then a form of performance management or an interest in learning? If I work in a radio station in the production department, would it then be a form of performance management or learning or training?
If someone is showing me how to do it, then watching me try it, and then I practice until I acquire that skill, it is first and foremost training, which then leads me to learn how to do it, and so forth. Upon acquiring the skill, I then plan to expand it.
Maybe I want to do it from reel to reel (which is a way it used to be done). If it is on my own time, and just me, myself and I, well, I am learning it. If someone is showing me, I am being trained.
Now, it upon developing and acquiring this new skill is directly tied to how well I can do my job which is then tied to a 360 review, succession planning or job performance review, then you could argue it would slide into and/or under performance management.
The question though then should be – should it?
Do we want learning to be a core component of performance management to such a level that in order to acquire new skills, develop and expand it becomes a part of the whole performance management process?
Or do we see it as a form of training (if someone is showing me how to do it) or learning, with zero of performance management?
LXPs all push the learner-centric angle, as noted earlier, whereas the learner drives what they want to learn, and I stress the word learn. If I want to know how to create a rubric , I can go and select topics related to it, and then find and view and/or take content tied to it, to understand how to do it, and then through practice (an important part of training), acquire it. I may have to repeat numerous times (an advantage of using e-learning). Or I may pick up enough of it, to create a basic rubric and then at some latter point, expand to acquire new skills to build upon it.
It has nothing though to do with my job. Yes, it ties into the believe that a happy employee is more likely to stay and the way you achieve that is personal and professional development (keys usually seen with folks from a training background, when they provide online learning thru training), but is it a direct relation to my performance to do my job better.
I become happy, but is it specifically tied to my job?
To me, unless it is directly tied to my job, and how well I can do my job, it is not performance management. It is L&D, because within L&D lies organizational development.
Training’s approach is providing courses (online or blended) to enable an employee (in our scenario with this post) to acquire new skills either to do their job ideally better than before and/or to attain knowledge into something that “interests” the employee, thus assuring personal and professional development and growth.
I never saw training as its only objective to make a person better at their job, and stop at that.
And yet, when it comes to LMSs, many L&D folks see it just for that, as in making a better robot. If I see you as having potential, maybe I place you into a leadership development program or succession program, otherwise here – “learn more skills” to do your job.
With online learning, for many L&D folks, everything is about performing better in your job, and the place to do this is in an LMS (where we will require you to complete the content, ensuring that you are learning these skills or a skill).
And this is where an LXP rolls into play, because the L&D person (again not every L&D person), recognizes the personal and professional growth factor (which has been known for decades) and adds this component to their overall learning strategy.
Too many are now using it under the guise of performance management. Which in turn, spreads to various net sites as the “way” to provide learning, and thus in some circles training.
Can it be both?
The answer to me, is no. Training should be about training, which as mentioned earlier leads to learning a new skill or idea or philosophy and so forth. When you attend school at whatever level, they call it “learning”.
I note the school angle because there is a huge call for colleges/universities to change their mantra from theory and knowledge based upon facts plus practicum (depending on your school and class more importantly) to focusing on teaching you skills (new) to do a job or profession. Teaching is the education term, but replace it with training for corporate and you will see it means the same thing (in essence).
Should we refer to this as performance management? While we can disagree on whether online learning in higher ed become asynchronous (it should imo) versus its current synchronous method (which it is ), we should all agree that it is not performance management.
Not in its current state or the state that some folks want it to become.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye
The past, if you let it, will teach you a lot. Whether it is historical in nature, or professional – how you once did this job, it is still a form of knowledge gathering.
And in your LXP, maybe you are able to select such topics of fancy. I rarely see language courses in an LXP, let alone LMSs as an option for folks to select, and yet many people download and use language apps.
This could easily slide under skill development. But would we want to call it
LXP vendors stop pitching PM as a core component or using it as part of your sales approach.
Because once you do,
You are no-longer learner-centric
You are performance driven.