Performance Consulting Process

Phase 1: Project Startup

1. Meet with sponsor/client to begin project planning

Goal: Discuss the challenges/problems/opportunities, how much time is available to fix them, what are the expected benefits, etc.

Techniques: Acknowledge the initial project requirements as stated by the sponsor client.

2. Get permission to proceed with needs analysis

Goal: Establish permission/agreement to explore ways to achieve the projects goals. Ask for: time to conduct analysis, access to relevant people and information.

Techniques: Explain the value of gaining a deeper understanding of the need. Make sure you’re talking to the right person/group. Ask “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”.

3. Define project success

Goal: Identify the means by which success will be measured.

Techniques: Inquire how the client will gauge success. How will you measure success? What project outcomes are important? If everything goes according to plan, what does that look like?

ROI (Level 5). Define the client’s return on investment (ROI) objective. What payoff (percentage and monetary value) does the client expect from investing in the development and implementation of the learning solution.

KPI Goals (Level 4). Identify the critical business objectives or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), their levels, and the dates the client needs to achieve from the implementation of the learning solution.

Performance Goals (Level 3). Identify the employee competencies (and related behaviors) needed in the workplace. This information ensures the learning solution is aligned and relevant to the organization and individual performance objectives. This is typically done via conversations involving the Performance Consultant (PC) with high-performing managers and sellers.

Phase 2: Investigate Need

1. Identify key job roles related to the learning and performance need

Goal: Identify the roles that have most impact on achieving the project goals and success measures.

Techniques: Which roles have the most impact (primary roles)? Which roles have some impact (secondary and tertiary roles)? It is a good practice to map out the problem visually in order to help you identify who is involved. To draw a diagram of the target group’s world and their ultimate customer through the client’s eyes (use thicker lines for stronger relationships).

  • Who is the client requesting the solution? (the request initiator)

  • Who is the solution for? (the target group/performers)

  • Who do they report to? Who does their performance reviews? (the supervisors)

  • Who reports to them? Where are they? How many are they?

  • What do they do?

  • Who receives their performance output? (the end customer)

  • Is there anyone else involved in delivering this performance to the end customer?

  • Who is accountable for their performance? (the stakeholders)

2. Explore the work

Goal: Perform a gap analysis and quantify the performance gaps.

Techniques: Describe the intended and actual work results. List the difference (gaps) between the expected and actual work results. Identify the most challenging aspects of the work.

What are they doing now? (Actual)

  • What are these people doing now?

  • How are things going now?

  • What are the processes?

  • What software systems and tools are used?

  • What are their KPIs?

What do we want them to do? (Desired)

  • What are their target KPIs?

  • What will it look like when you people can perform as you want them to?

  • What does success look like?

3. Identify and prioritize areas of opportunity

Goal: Determine where to focus your solution for greatest benefit. If we do nothing, what is the impact and cost on the business? How much is this gap costing the organization?

Techniques: Prioritize every gap (high, medium, low) according to: (a) level of complexity, (b) frequency, and (c) impact. Select the key areas of opportunity (i.e., those that are prioritized highest in all three areas.)

“What is the impact if we do something?” You have to show an understanding by considering this quantifiable gap yourself – get the client talking about their KPI’s and revealing their actual needs, not what they think they need.

Phase 3: Explore Causes

1. Identify the reasons for the gap

Goal: Determine which factors (aka performance drivers) effect each key area of opportunity.

Techniques: Use the “5 Whys” technique to drill down to the underlying cause.

  • What is root cause of the gap?

  • Knowledge – who has the knowledge to close the gap?

  • Skills – is there a lack of skills? Do we know what these are?

  • Motivation – is there something we need to do to incentivize?

  • Environment – are there any other obstacles stopping people from performing?

  • What interventions/solutions are needed to close each root cause?

Examine potential factors related to the:


  • Do workers know how to close the gap?

  • Do workers have the information, tools, and resources needed to close the gap?

  • How does the behavior of workers contribute to or inhibit the organization’s ability to achieve desired results?


  • Where are the bottlenecks and stumbling blocks in the work processes?

  • What systems and software applications are used and how well are they working?

  • How do the work processes contribute to or inhibit the organization’s ability to achieve desired results?


  • Is the work environment conducive to achieving the desired results?

  • Do the workers have adequate supervision and support?

  • Does the organizational structure support achievement of project goals and success measures?

  • Are the rewards and incentives aligned with achieving the desired work results?

High-Performer Analysis

Step 1: Identify High Performers

Identifying the top performers is the key to establishing a credible design point for learning. By doing so, we ensure the training we develop is naturally targeted to key areas that will impact the business.

Step 2: Identify Outcomes of High Performers

Their expertise must be identified and described in a way that can be emulated by others: namely, the average performers in the middle of the distribution curve. To do this, our work with top performers focuses on understanding what they produce that is of value to the organization as opposed to what they do or what we believe they know. We call these tangible products outcomes. Typically, people who excel in their role focus on five to seven key outcomes. This focus on outcomes and the tasks to produce them enables top performers to create business impact that far exceeds that of their peers. Taken collectively, these context-rich outcomes describe a model of success for the top performers and the role.

Step 3: Identify Critical Knowledge and Skills for each Outcome

The outcomes and the associated tasks necessary to produce them to standard describe a model of success or standard of excellence for any given role and, thus, form a natural filter to determine the relevant skills and knowledge applicable to that role. This filter focuses and streamlines the objectives of the learning program to be developed.

Step 4: Solutions

Identify solutions to equip the entire role population to produce the outcomes currently being produced only by the top performers.

Step 5: Sustainment

Outcomes-based coaching focuses on establishing a positive and meaningful conversation between performer and supervisor to mutually create individually tailored in-role development plans. Because the outcomes are tangible, they are also measurable.

Things to Keep in Mind

If your process is identifying business priorities and then pushing related content and courses at people, then almost certainly you are going to miss the mark. If your process starts with understanding people working in your business, then figuring out what you can do to help them perform – then you have a shot at business alignment.

In encouraging people to think about the shift from courses to resources, the focus has to shift from content to context. Specifically, spending time getting to know your audience, their ‘performance context’ and spotting the gaps – i.e. the points in their working day where there is an opportunity for you to help. To redesign the experience. Resources slot neatly into these performance gaps.

All your conversations need to have the mindset of “seek first to understand” by asking probing questions and not quickly offering solutions.

For each step, continue your conversations until you have agreed on the required outcomes and results.

It is very important to involve Business Leaders as Champions of the initiative because they provide powerful influence, accountability, and encouragement in making the initiative a success. Your solution will most likely involve multiple departments to collaborate and work together. Unless you have a solid plan and support from Business Leaders to remove obstacles, employees and their supervisors will not take your initiative seriously and see it as the “next flavour of the month”.

Stay focused on performance and results in the workplace. Your goal is to recommend a holistic and integrated solution, not just training classes that are disconnected from the business environment. You can’t just train employees and dump them on the supervisor’s lap. You want to increase the likelihood of success by supporting and monitoring their performance in the workplace.

Truth is the best way to develop trust. Truth leads to trust!

The hidden assumption which sets us on the wrong path is that learning is knowledge transfer. People aren’t data squirrels – they don’t work by hoarding knowledge, rather they look for guidance when they need it.

Smart, balanced strategies around learning, performance, and technology are essential to successful sales teams. But sustaining the effort in the long run requires careful consideration of organizational culture, innovation, and leadership.