Performance gaps – there are different types actually
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If you are a learning and development or training practitioner you will be familiar with the term learning needs analysis which is used to describe the process of accurately identifying what people need to learn. The process supports learning design, development, and delivery because it ensures that if you do develop a learning intervention then it is the right one because the learning needs analysis you carried out earlier would have identified what the learning intervention should focus on.
Learning interventions which could be a virtual or face-to-face course or an e-learning course or even a coaching intervention are usually aimed at dealing with knowledge or skills gaps. But there are actually more performance gaps than those two that we need to focus on for the purpose of developing and delivering learning interventions that work. Sometimes we need to be honest and realistic enough to admit that some gaps cannot be solved by a learning intervention.
What are these other performance gaps apart from skills and knowledge?
I learned about all the gaps from Julie Dirksen in her brilliant book titled – Design for how people learn.
In her book Julie identified the following gaps which can affect a person’s performance:
- Knowledge gaps: gaps due to not having enough or the right information to do something.
- Skill gaps: a gap that can only be filled by practice.
- Motivation gaps: this is a gap that is present when someone knows what to do but chooses not to do it.
- Habit gaps: a person may have the right skill, knowledge, and motivation and still struggle to do something because it has not become a habit for them.
- Environment gaps: when the environment isn’t set up for people to succeed despite having the right knowledge, skills, and motivation.
- Communication gaps: this is a gap that occurs due to poor directions or instructions.
A good learning needs analysis goes beyond just identifying knowledge and skills gaps. It must consider all the other gaps of motivation, habit, environment, and communication too.
This partly explains why a lot of training courses and learning interventions are ineffective because they are the wrong solution for the existing performance gap.
It may be beneficial therefore to think about these gaps as you go about providing any learning solutions.
In subsequent posts, I will look at each gap in more detail.