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Challenges to Effective Mission Driven Performance Oriented Training

Challenges to Effective Mission Driven Performance Oriented Training

By: Thomas Rozman

Over the last several decades organizations in our larger workplace community, especially those leveraging emerging technology and cumulative developing knowledge of and experience with effective task training, methods and resources, have made significant strides.

That said, the dynamism of change and its velocity, changes in the workforce demographic, and surprisingly knowledge and skill of leadership to fully comprehend training system effectiveness through time to produce skill proficiency to necessary mission/task standard, too often isn’t where it needs to be–sadly sometimes to catastrophic and fatal result.

In an extended workplace career that now spans over four decades in the private, defense and public civil sectors I have witnessed a revolution in training system effectiveness and capability to assure a high level of task skill performance to the essential mission standard. I have been party to projects that produced almost unheard of or imagined success like the complex system task proficiency witnessed by individuals, teams and organizations in military operations in the two Persian Gulf deployments. I have also observed parallel accomplishments in areas in industry. But, despite these huge success stories I have also noted some major areas where these successes have not penetrated.

For the last eighteen years I have had the unique situation of examining the training system effectiveness relative to critical mission task performance to standard, successes and failures, in over 3,000 small to international level private as well as public organizations. Many of these organizations are operating in highly complex and demanding environments. Aspects of their functions, procedures and operations have significant business and mission ramifications and fatal consequence when not done to standard. A particular set of themes have presented in general in the areas of concern.

The following bullets outline these concerns.

  • Too often leaders seem disconnected from their training systems. They do not appear to be monitoring the effectiveness of the training systems or even the objectives of the systems–odd when failure to have properly defined a task and standard and having the ability to determine at any time the skill proficiency of employees, especially on non routine but critical tasks, may have deadly or catastrophic consequences. This has been incredibly costly for business, witness the situation that developed in the Gulf of Mexico with BP. It is equally costly for public sector.
  • Too many key individuals in organizations seem challenged to articulate performance oriented training concepts in their systems. Simple ideas such as, what is the critical task and supporting tasks, are not a first thought expressed by leadership in a discussion about performance that wasn’t on target. What are the conditions acceptable under which the task will be performed and what is the standard the task will be performed to?
  • Validation of task skill is often wanting.
  • Understanding of skill decay for critical not routinely performed tasks is often a concept that is not integrated into the organization’s training systems.
  • Organizationally, the skill training function seems dispersed throughout several systems and is often not perceived as an operating system essential to effective and successful and sustained operations. The function too often may have pieces in the human resources area, the operations area, the executive area and elsewhere in the organization. It is certainly a component of ongoing staff professional development. But, its operational oriented urgency to daily tactical level operations seems to drive a failure to understand its larger operational and strategic aspects to the organization’s ability to sustain or adapt its operating effectiveness through time. Critically, this latter need is often based on adaptation to change in public policy in the public sector organizations to market driven changes in private sector for profit organizations.
None of the above observations are necessarily new. Again, we, the larger organizational community, have developed and achieved truly incredible capabilities and accomplishments in the task training arena in the last forty plus years. But too often the hard earned knowledge and experience combined with successful integration of ever new emerging capabilities, does not appear to be translating to our organizational community to the level one would hope. From personal experience, an organization’s failure to properly harness the power of high performing experiential training systems modeled on a performance oriented training concept with fully integrated leader involvement may very well produce failed businesses, catastrophic incidents, injury and death. From personal observation, the negatives have occurred enough to warrant an ongoing inward review of systems by all organizations to improve what we are doing.
Training critical mission tasks to the necessary mission standard cannot be an afterthought by leadership especially after a major failure has occurred.  If the least desired outcomes are to be avoided, leadership of organizations must be aggressively proactive in monitoring mission task proficiency of employees, identifying proficiency gaps and applying task to standard training to eliminate those proficiency to standard gaps.

Note: Thomas Rozman has led 13 organizations of 14 to 800 employees. Positions range from commander to director in operational military security and training organizations in the U. S., South Korea and Germany to park, capital outlay and state occupational safety/health operations. More