Tools and Resources: the Link to Performance

Have you ever tried to complete a report while your computer kept crashing? Have you been given an unrealistic deadline, had people ignore your requests for information, or tried to find a missing file that is nowhere to be found? When you don’t have the right tools or resources, it is hard to perform well, let alone at the exemplary level.

When we talk about the tools needed to do your job, the obvious items come to mind. However, there are other tools that we don’t often think of which can impact performance. For example, I once worked in an office and had to walk to another side of the building when I printed a document. This walk took about two minutes each way if no one stopped me. However, most of the time, I ended up talking with someone. This meant that picking up a document could take 15 to 20 minutes of my day. If there were a printer close to my desk, I would have been more productive.

Thinking about the resources needed to do your job, you often need to work with others, access to information, allocation of budget, and adequate time. Without these, performance will suffer. The challenge with resources is that we don’t think about them until they’re not there. For example, I worked on a project and needed information from our VP of Sales. I emailed him, then called him, and then called again the next day. A few days later I found out he had traveled out of the country and he wasn’t able to get me the information I needed until he returned. This put me behind and unable to complete my report on time.

In reviewing the Tools and Resources factor, this seems straight forward. However, it is not always easy to address. For example, what if leaders are slashing the budget to save jobs and you can’t get money to buy a new printer? In the case of the Sales VP being away, how can you learn that faster and ask for the information from someone else? In situations like this, be creative to overcome these barriers. In my research and experience, I have found that exemplary performers never let this stand in their way. They find a way to get the tools and the resources they need to continue performing at the exemplary level.

This is exactly what you need to do. First, identify whether you have the tools and resources needed to perform at the exemplary level. Then, if you lack something, find a way to get it. I once used my personal laptop until the company fixed my work computer. I also have been known to go to every leader in a department until I received the information I needed (I learned from the Sales VP experience). When faced with a tools and resources challenge, think of it as an opportunity to show how resourceful you are. Never let it get in the way of your performance.

Conferences forĀ Development

I am in the throws of planning to attend the ASTD International Conference & Exposition as well as the SHRM 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition. A few things have come to mind as I plan the sessions I want to attend, time at the expo hall, and meetings with colleagues I may not get to see at other times of the year.

1. Do they have to let us know there is an exposition by putting that in the title of the conference? Just wondering…

2. At any given time, there are a lot of sessions. Because of this, two questions come to mind. First, why is it that my favorite sessions always happen at the same time? And second, how can there be times when dozens of sessions are going on but nothing that appeals to me? I know these contradict each other but I guess it’s an example of “feast or famine”.

3. Planning each of these conferences takes a lot of work. Thousands of people attend each conference and finding value for everyone that attends is a monumental task. So be extra kind to the conference organizers and volunteers.

4. Each event is being held at a great city. Part of the reason is that there are only so many cities with facilities to support such large conferences and they happen to be great cities. Another reason is that the conference planners know the city is almost as much of a draw as the conference. They are smart cookies!

5. There are dozens of talent management-related conferences each year and each has something specific to offer. Most people that I know can only attend one conference. In choosing which to attend, think about your development needs above your interests. For example, performance in the workplace is my passion but I am attending the more strategically important sessions to get ideas that I can transfer to action when I return.

Hope to see you there. Leave a comment if you will be attending!

Different Companies, Same Challenges

This year, I have had the privilege of representing Learn.com at our Tour on Talent event. We have conducted 34 of these throughout the nation in partnership with ADP. Having talked with over 700 HR and Training professionals, I have found that there is a strange thing that happens when we are engaged in an organization. We tend to think that our challenges are different from the challenges others face and what works somewhere else will not work where we are.

While it is true that each organization has a unique culture, I have found the same challenges communicated from many of the professionals I talk with. Most of the people I have talked with are challenged with doing more with less, getting executive buy-in, demonstrating our value, and decreasing the tactical parts of our job so that we can be more strategic. Having consulted to many organizations in a variety of industries, I have found that the solutions aren’t so unique.

For example, helping a client in the financial industry track the return on investment (ROI) for a training initiative was the same need and leveraged the same process as clients in healthcare, government, retail, and other industries. The need to demonstrate what we bring to the table in dollar values and percentages is the same no matter what company you work with. The process is the same for tracking ROI no matter what company you work with. The difficulty of finding metrics that are reliably tracked and isolating what you did as the reason for their change is hard in every organization.

So I am left with the nagging question. If we have so many of the same challenges and so many of the same possible solutions, why do we think we are so different?