Accomplishment-Based Talent Development: Focus on Employees’ Valuable Contributions


60 minutes

You will learn about the origin and evolution of accomplishment-based performance improvement, based on the work of Thomas F. Gilbert in his groundbreaking book, Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance. The webinar will highlight how a focus on accomplishments – the valuable products of people’s behavior – differs from traditional approaches to talent management that focus on skills, knowledge, behavior, or competencies, and how an accomplishment-based approach can drive more effective and measurable strategies and tactics for improving organizational and individual performance. You’ll learn about an end-to-end accomplishment-based talent development model for hiring, on-boarding, coaching, training, and continuous development that improves our ability to define and measure performance, and connects people’s daily work to the success of the organization. Talent acquisition and development efforts often suffer from a lack of clarity about performance expectations. When we define jobs by the work outputs they contribute to the organization, including deliverables, decisions, relationships, transactions, agreements, new ideas and prototypes, and so on, it’s easier to define at each stage what we need people to produce or achieve. We can more easily create behavioral interviewing questions and performance tests, on-board new employees based on the contributions we need them to master during their first weeks and months on the job, train them with accomplishments as objectives, coach and mentor them for continuous improvement in the value they deliver to the organization, and make decisions about compensation, promotion, and career path moves. This clarity not only can improve productivity of individuals and groups, but it can also help to optimize their engagement and job satisfaction by making every day an opportunity for development, and by connecting employees through their contributions on a clear line-of-sight to results for the whole organization. Beyond accomplishment-based hiring, on-boarding, and training, coaching becomes a critical engine for continuous development. As described in a notable Harvard Business Review article in 2018, called HR Goes Agile, many of the organizations known for development of people rely on a regular cadence of coaching by which employees and their managers focus on continuous improvement. When that coaching is a collaborative effort enabling individuals to better achieve or produce the contributions (accomplishments) that are most important at the time – for the business, for upcoming projects, for their own career development, and so on – it becomes a tangible, ongoing process of development and recognition for delivering new and improved contributions. Such an approach offers the promise of creating an organizational culture focused on continuous performance improvement.

Attendees will learn:

  • The origins of accomplishment-based performance improvement
  • How to describe the valuable accomplishments that employees make to their organizations
  • The clear distinction between accomplishments and behavior for producing them
  • How accomplishments enable managers to connect their employees to organizational results
  • How a focus on accomplishments can strengthen each stage of talent development lifecycle
  • The impact of collaborative accomplishment-based coaching on continuous talent development

Who should attend:

  • Managers delivering training 
  • Independent consultants 
  • Training and HR professionals


Dr. Carl Binder Dr. Carl Binder, CEO of The Performance Thinking Network, began as a behavior scientist, one of B.F. Skinner’s last graduate students at Harvard. He spent the 1970s conducting research, training teachers, and consulting to educational and human service organizations across North America, with a focus on fluency-based instruction. Shifting to corporate training in 1982, he joined the International Society for Performance Improvement where he met Tom Gilbert, Geary Rummler, Joe Harless, Roger Kaufman, and other performance improvement pioneers, who proved to be generous mentors. Founder of 4 consulting firms, he has continued to refine performance improvement models and methods, partnering with clients and stakeholders, developing performance consultants, and teaching leaders and managers to contribute to continuous improvement. Over 40+ years, Carl has developed what is known as Performance Thinking®, a powerful but flexible accomplishment-based performance improvement methodology that his firm certifies others to apply in programs for different organizational roles. Adopted by clients on six continents, Performance Thinking has built a global community of practice. Carl has published several dozen articles and chapters, spoken at events worldwide, and received four Lifetime Achievement awards from the American Psychological Association, The International Society for Performance Improvement, the OBM Network, and the Standard Celeration Society.



This webinar is sponsored by and is based upon research of our published training tools. For more than 40 years HRDQ has been a provider of research-based training resources for classroom, virtual, and online soft-skills training. We offer learning resources to help retain employees and clients, make better decisions, improve performance, and much more.

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Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Accomplished Faced Talent Development: Focused on Employees Valuable Contributions by HRDQ-U, and presented by doctor Carl Binder.
My name is Sarah, and I will moderate today’s webinar.
The webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions or comments, please type them into the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel, and we will answer as many questions as we can during today’s session.
Today’s webinar is sponsored by HRDQstore, HRDQstore is based upon research of our public training tools for more than 40 years. HRDQ has been a provider of research based training resources for classroom, virtual and online soft skills training, offering learning resources, help retain employees and clients, make better decisions, improve performance.
And much more you can learn more at HRDQstore .com. And I’m excited to introduce our presenter today, doctor Carl Binder.
CEO of the Performance Thinking Network, doctor Carl Binder began as a Behavior Scientists, one of BS Skinner’s last graduate students at Harvard. He spent the 19 seventies conducting research, training teachers, and consulting to educational and human service organizations across North America, with a focus on fluency based instruction.
Shifting to corporate training in 1982, he joined the International Society for Performance Improvement.
Founder of four consulting firms, he has continued to refine performance improvement models and methods, partnering with clients and stakeholders, developing performance consultants and teaching leaders and managers to contribute to continuous improvement.
Over the last 40 plus years, doctor Binder has developed what is known as Performance Thinking. A powerful, but flexible, accomplished based performance improvement methodology that is firms certifies others to apply and programs for different organizational roles.
Adapted by Clients on six continents, Performance linked Thinking has built a global community of practice.
Doctor Binder has published several dozens of articles and chapters, spoken at events worldwide and received for Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Performance Improvement, the OPM Network, and the Standard Acceleration Society. Thank you so much for joining us today. Doctor Binder.
Thank you, Sarah. When I, when I hear an introduction like that, I realize I’m an old guy.
But it’s really a pleasure to be to be presenting with you today to be partnering with HRD Q. As Sarah said, we’re going to talk about accomplishment based talent development, which, as you’ll see, focuses on the valuable contributions that people and organizations make to their organizations.
Here’s a kind of an agenda. We’re going to talk a little bit about the context and background for this work, because it goes back, really to behavior science and to early pioneers and thought leaders in what’s known as performance improvement, or human performance improvement, or performance engineering. And so, I want to talk a little bit about that, because it shifted the focus, really, of performance improvement and talent development from people’s behavior, to the products of their behavior accomplishments.
Then, we want to talk about how we can define individual performance and job profiles using their accomplishments. How we can drive hiring, onboarding training, employees, and then continuous, what some people call Agile talent development with coaching. And we’re going to touch briefly on an executive coaching tool set, and an approach that we’ve discovered really, about the last decade that you might find interesting. And then we’ll have some time at the end for questions and discussion.
So first, let’s start with a poll, and I think that Sarah can launch that poll for us.
Yes, and what we’re interested in. So go ahead. Tasks, and I say the poll is launched and live.
And so really, we just, we’re interested in knowing who’s, who’s with us. It’s always helpful to me to know.
So if you can select the best descriptor of you, and it could be other, of course.
But are you a business or executive manager leader? Are you in HR? Or or possibly an HR business partner? Are you training and performance professional?
Are you possibly an individual contributor or something else?
We’ll give you, we haven’t lots of responses to streaming.
And we’ll give you, and more seconds here to get your answer if you have yet to do so.
Get those results up on the screen here.
Do you see that on your side? Bakker Binder?
I do it. So, that’s a good mix. So, there’s a bunch of individual contributors that, pretty interesting. So, so, this is great since this is classic group. And I think all of you are probably likely to be interested in this topic and so, I appreciate your if you’re filling out the poll. Let’s.
let’s also mention that there’s an article you can download and I think Sarah can tell you about that.
Yes, You can download today’s handout under the handouts. Strap down in your control panel.
And I should mention that this is not really a follow along thing for this talk. It’s a, it’s an article that I published a few years ago, which was really an explicit description, really, of what it means to be accomplished with based and what some of the implications are. And we’ll be talking about that today. So we just thought it might be a helpful thing to have. So let’s get into it.
So know, you see in the title this notion of being accomplishment based. And some of you may be familiar with the human performance improvement world where people talk about accomplishments, but what does it really mean to be accomplished. And to do that, I need to go back to two of my mentors and two of the thought leaders in the field of performance improvement. Doctor Tom Gilbert was an extraordinary contributor. He often talked about performance engineering.
He started out really in the sixties and seventies as an instructional systems design guy and the training person. But over time with a lot of his colleagues, people like Gary Rumler and others, he shifted the focus to a larger scope of performance improvement. So that people were not just looking at developing skills and knowledge, but they were looking at the other factors or the other variables that influence performance systemically.
And then Joe Harless, who was a protege with doctor Gilbert. And eventually quite a remarkable contributor in his own right.
He he took really what Guilbert talked about.
And systematize that he turned it into a set of programs that he would implemented large organizations to do performance analysis, and especially to do what he referred to as a, B C D, or accomplishment based curriculum development. And I’ll make some reference to that.
And I had I had the good fortune when I joined the International Society for Improvement in the early eighties to meet these gentlemen, as well as some others who were really generous mentors. And Tom, in particular, made a big difference. He was an iconoclast, very much of a geek. He’s kind of a poke in the eye guy.
He wanted to upset the applecart, and so the way he described this is really famous book called Human Competence, that he published in 19 78, but it’s still being taught in graduate schools. There was a 40 year celebration of its publication a few years ago in two major organizations. So it’s still a thing and there’s a lot in the book, but one of the most important things he said, he said In the great cult of behavior behavior itself is viewed as an end revenues. It means to an end and this is sort of the icon of classic part of Tom. He didn’t mean behaviorists or, you know, just trainers or whatever. What he meant was everybody he meant that whether we’re leaders or managers or HR professionals or training professionals or whatever it is we we do that’s related to people’s performance.
The hit history of humans really is we tend to look at people’s behavior. But what he pointed out was the second part of this.
We must enable people to produce accomplishments, the valuable products, the behavior.
Now, this was a game changer, because it began it focus people on value.
And the word itself accomplishments, is it is a pretty cool word, because it sounds valuable, it sounds important, However, if you look it up in the dictionary, you will see that there are more meanings that have to do with the completion of behavior, rather than the products, the behavior. And also, if you look in the literature of accomplishment based performance improvement, which has been going on for at least 50 years, or 40 years, what you’ll see is a mix of a whole lot of different things that are called accomplishments.
So, about 15 years ago, we coined the phrase work outputs, and you’ll see, we’ll be using that interchangeably with the word accomplishments, for two reasons. one is it implies it’s the product is something work, or activity. And the second is notice it’s plural. Because what we suggest is that any accomplishment really needs to be countable. It needs to be a thing that we can decide whether it’s a good winter, and we’ll talk a lot more about that.
So, Tom had a big impact on me, and one way to think about the big, the results of his work was a definition of human performance that has very explicit components.
First of all, of course, it involves behavior because people are doing stuff, but it involves workout, puts her accomplishments that are valuable to the extent they contribute to organizational or business results.
Now, I like to think of this often, in a sports kind of environment or an athletic environment. It’s real easy to see it there.
So we might look at soccer.
We look at soccer, frankly, because we have clients all over the world, and they’re a lot more familiar with football, as it’s often called in other countries than American football. So we have the soccer, girl and cheese.
He’s kind of famous and some of our client organizations that are actually apocryphal story is about this young lady. But if this were animated, you’d see she’s doing she’s kicking the ball, just behaving. And so the question is, what does what does the workout, but what she tried to produce?
Well, it’s a goal key, or the person she kicks or heads the ball to is trying to get the ball in the net.
And that’s the countable accomplishment, the goal, or the work output, And why is that important?
Well, it’s important because it contributes to the score, and, ultimately, winning the game, and you could say, organizational results, or business results, depending on whether you’re in a not for-profit or a corporate environment. But essentially, you know, if it’s literally a for-profit, you know, professional team, that it really is about business results. But even if it’s just a, you know, a game of soccer out in the park, it’s the result of the organization is trying to achieve. And so those are the elements are what we sometimes call the units of analysis of performance.
And we’re pretty nit picky about it because we want to be precise. So what we say is that behavior should be disgrace an action and it should be described using a verb. An active verb like kick the ball for example or you know, adjust the meter or or write the proposal, whatever it is. And then work outputs are things.
And so we insist that they be countable nouns, and you’ll see a lot of examples of those shortly. And then organizational, or business results. What we focus on is for the whole organization. And what we mean by that are things like revenue, profit, customer satisfaction, safety, market share, regulatory compliance, things that an executive, or a senior leader, or an owner, or an investor would look at the whole organization and say, Are we being successful?
So those are the elements. And that kind of analysis, or that point of view, led to the first of our two models and performance thinking, which we call the performance chain.
In. The performance team can be thought of as how behavior produces organizational or business results. And we really start with the end in mind, as we’ll get a little more explicit about shortly. But you can see under business results, those are things that people would look at a whole organization, and they would say, how are we doing on these results? How’s the company or the organization doing?
And then, in order to produce those people, produce workout, puts her accomplishments, and we’ll talk about that list in awhile. And they do it with their behavior, and then there’s a whole lot of stuff that influences that, and, basically, it works from left to right.
So the conditions under which people perform affect their behavior, which hopefully produce valuable work outputs, that are valuable because they contribute to business results. We analyze it with the end in mind.
That is, we want to know, in any given example, whether it’s a training program, or a process improvement project, or an individual coaching effort, or whatever it is we’re doing, to try to fit performance. We want to start out by wanting to know what’s the state for the business through the business results, but then we get to the work, the work outputs, and accomplishments.
And because of what Gilbert pointed out, we anchor it all.
This, we, we want to really understand, we’re looking at a role, or a job, or a process when we’re defining the goals of a training program. When we’re looking at any performance, we want to start out by understanding what those work outputs are, what those accomplishments are. Frankly, this really does change everything. Those are kind of are synonyms for accomplishments, or work outputs, countable nouns, but it has a big set of applications, and that’s what I want to kind of, unpack for you.
But first, let’s look at the types of accomplishments, because you may have seen this list, when I showed you the the performance chain. This is not a taxonomy.
I always wanted, be clear, when we’re training people, or, or certified people in our approach, these, this list of words, deliverables, transactions, decisions, and so forth.
Are words that we’ve discovered over the years are helpful when you’re having a conversation, or when you’re observing the performer. And you’re trying to identify what all their valuable accomplishments or contributions are. But this is not: these are not mutually exclusive. So, for example, a milestone in their process might be a decision or deliverable and so forth. But deliverables, most people, if they, if you start talking about the products of behavior.
They get it about deliverables, you know, widgets, documents, things, very concrete things. The transactions are also accomplishments, for example, when you go to the store, you know.
You bring some stuff up to the front, and then assuming that you’re dealing with a human at the checkout stand, you know, they, they put the, go through the whole process. You take, you, give them some money. You take away some, some food or whatever it is you’ve just purchased, and there’s a transaction, and so transactions like loads or sales or bank deposits are obviously very valuable accomplishments. Decisions are also accomplishments or work outputs, and, in fact, people sometimes think of decisions as behavior, but if you obviously look at it carefully, you realize we go through a whole lot of behavior. But then we come to a hiring decision, or a funding decision, or a vacation location decision, or whatever it is, and that’s a thing, and it’s generally a very valuable thing. And people in many jobs, especially as you move up into the management, leadership ranks, are making a lot of valuable decisions.
Milestones and progress indicators, those are things those are words that we use when we’re talking about process. So if you think about any process that you might be involved in, whether it’s a business process or some other kind, It’s a series of steps or activities, each one of which produces something that gets passed on to the next.
It may be improved version of the previous thing, like a draft document and then a DAC document that’s been edited to meet corporate standards, but we think that we call it we use the word milestones to refer to those things. And then, progress indicators is a phrase that came up when we’ve analyzed sales process. Because in sales, you don’t always have a consistent, you know, a strictly linear sequence of events. But you’ve got things like introductions to new opportunity to new people.
Or, you know, receptionist in the medical office gives me the salesperson, her cell phone number. Those are outputs that you’ve achieved. And they indicate progress toward the final outcome.
Relationships, you might think of as kind of a funny thing to talk about his accomplishments, but, obviously, we work a lot to establish. And then maintain valuable working in personal relationships.
Changes are innovations, are just words that we’ve used, especially in environments like R D Groups, or, Places where innovation is a big thing. We look at new stuff, like prototypes, new ideas, draft, or, you know, prototype products, et cetera, et cetera.
Products of communication is an interesting one, because I’ve had many people who would sort of put their life on the idea that, you know, a phone call or a meeting. Is it output? But, of course, it’s not a phone call is an activity. The question is, what do you want to get at the end of the phone, call, it, improved relationship, a decision, and appointment sale, whatever it is, or in a meeting.
Know, I always say we joke about meetings because if you ever been in a meeting that didn’t produce anything of value, both, people laugh and so at meetings, we’re talking about decisions, or next steps, or agreements, Those are the things that come after an act series of communications, produce something of value.
Then solutions are answers, and the kinds of things that customer service or tech people provide. People who do or produce a particular thing are products of trainers or managers.
And then teams that, you know, we can define. What we want a team to be a good, a good functioning team, and then we can work to produce that. Says, these are just some words we use. But I’d like to share the words with you, so you get a sense of the whole scope of what we mean when we use the word accomplishments.
Now, one of the neat things about accomplishments is that people really feel good about it.
And so, for example, in my case, if I’m having a bad day, or if I’m sort of depressed, or if it’s kinda gray, and, you know, rady outside, I will work to produce some of the, I’ll stop and say, Wait a minute, I’m gonna clean up my desk. So I have a clean desk, or I’ll pay my bills, or I’ll do these various things, because those outputs on the left feel pretty good to get accomplished.
And, of course, in the work environment, say, deal, You know, you not only maybe feel good about having a good relationship with a boss or a report that’s off your desk or a good hiring decision, but, there, they contribute value in the organization, so, people get excited. They like to identify And be aware of the accomplishments that they produced.
It’s a great word, as I, as I said, because people do feel good about it, and I think that’s partly what the picture that fellow on the previous slide, is about even though we say work output because, from a technical point of view, we want to be sure we’re talking about countable things, but let’s let’s dig into this a little bit.
First of all, in Processes, this is simple process map, and there’s three performers.
Those of you, if any buddy here has ever been involved in process mapping, or process analysis, you would probably recognize this is a so-called swim lane diagram, we got three different players: the author of the Requirements, Content Specification, the Editor, and the approver. And so they go through a bunch of activities, and those activities were all in the boxes, create draft content, spec, review, it implemented, blah, blah, blah. But what we’re looking at, when we talk about accomplishments of the products of each of those steps, and in fact, we work with a lot of process improvement teams.
And one of the things that process group people are really good at is, is mapping processes. But very often, they focus on the steps or activity, and what we say is to be measurable, to make it easier to diagnose, to understand the value that’s getting passed on and so forth. It’s really important to know the product, or the accomplishment of the work output at each step. So that’s one place you can look for accomplishments in processes. And, of course, we all work in environments where there’s a lot of business and other processes going on, whether we’re aware of them, or whether they’re documented or not.
But, of course, talent development, which is the topic of this, The focus, really, of this webinar, is about individuals or roles. And so, let’s take a look at that. Here’s what we call an individual performance map and what an individual performance map is that has the performer in this case, a sales director in the middle. And then it identifies the customers, whether they’re internal customers or external customers.
To whom that performer delivers value.
And the valuable things are the things in the circle, sales, data summaries, answers to questions, coaching, suggestions, to improve processes, and so forth. So, this is a simple example of an individual performance. A little bit more complicated example.
Here’s the vice president of marketing and sales in a high-tech startups and C And I actually, this person was, I knew, very Well, at some point, and, you know, things like compelling reason to invest is an important contribution of that role or customer specs or new products sold to existing customers. These are the products, or the outputs of this rule.
And, you know, you can define the valuable contributions of the VP of marketing and sales that way, or here’s a human resource director at a small medical devices company. I remember this fellow, because we worked with him and the president, a series of other HR, rather, VP level, people in that organization. And you can see the things that the HR director delivers to the CEO, to employees, to line management, so forth.
Here’s another example, team leader.
They deliver things like improvement ideas, or daily goals and targets to their team members or daily staff meeting notes. Again, these are countable things.
We can define them. We can help set expectations for the team leader. We can recognize when they’re good. We can see when they’re being delivered.
It’s very concrete, very workable. And this is the person’s whole job, pretty much.
Here’s a regional director in a, in a behavioral health organization, and you can see they’ve got a lot of customers.
And in fact, this is a job: I’ve worked with people in this. This kind of environment is a job where people often say, Oh, can you really get all that stuff done? Do you maybe need somebody to delegate to and so forth? But, again, you see lots of customers, and these are all things, their decisions, that reports their requests and so forth.
So you get the idea that we can really define a job that way.
And in fact, we actually have have had a fair number of clients who’ve used this way of thinking about a job or a role, accomplish it based to develop job descriptions.
So for example, some years ago, we were working with Alpha Time, which is a large family owned company in Dubai, UAE. And this is a company at the time. It has something like 75 different businesses.
And I, was working with a couple of teams of people in their HR and Talent Development organization.
And they served all these different companies, And when we, when we deliver our practitioner program, which I’ll tell you a little bit at the end, it’s a certification program, And so we coach people through projects that are valuable to their companies that they select And this woman decided to take a look at this particular role the level two manager.
And what was fascinating to me about this case is that this was a level of badger that existed in all their different companies, Whether they were retail or service delivery of some kind, or many Whatever.
They all had this particular second level manager, and if you look at the left hand column of this, their work outputs were strategic plans, set of standards, clear expectations, etcetera.
And the second column is the criteria, And we’re not going to talk much about that today, but the notion is, when you have an output, or an accomplishment, what is a good? one, What do we, what do we think is a good example of a strategic plan, or an impact plan, or a new Joiner or whatever?
And then there’s some ways to measure that, and you can even see the individual performance map shrunken down rather small there. Right?
So this was one example of how somebody decided to look at a job description, the core of a job using accomplishments. Here’s another example from a company where they were defining the outputs of a payroll specialist.
And there aren’t so many outputs here, there’s just down the left. There’s the payroll, there’s response to requests for information, There’s recommendations, client facing reports, and client relationships. So, this was a job that was fairly specialized and narrow, but, again, those are the major outputs, and those are the criteria for what a good one is.
So, creating job descriptions with accomplishments is a new idea for most people, but it’s very powerful.
Now, to some extent, it’s in contrast to the classic thing that happens in many organizations, which is competency model.
And I’m curious, and maybe we can, maybe we can see if anybody has anything to say about this in the chat box, but does your organization use competency modeling this question? Because our observation has been that most big companies that we’ve had worked with, or at least a very large portion of them, have adopted, or possibly had consultants create for them.
Competency models, models of things like strategic thinking and focus on the customer, or whatever it is. And lists of those things. And then the most often, the most frequent places we’ve seen competency models has been to places, and I think they’re used in other ways, too, but one is in learning management systems. Often learning management systems have been organized by the various competencies that training programs are supposed to help develop, and then the other places, performance management systems. And I’ll bet you that some of you have been involved in those. Maybe all of you, where, you know, every so often, maybe it’s annually, Maybe it’s quarterly. We go in and decide, Are you a 1, 2, 3, 4, or five, and strategic thinking, or that looks a rating scale applied to competencies?
Now, I don’t want to get too critical of this, but our observation over the years is that competency models make it look like you’re doing something valuable, but there are the level of abstraction, which makes them very hard to be usable.
And so what we’ve suggested over the years has been to go beyond competency models. And, you know, we think we can evolve beyond competency modeling with accomplishments.
And so, for example.
Accomplishments, as you can see from those examples I showed you, are definitely more concrete than competencies.
In other words, I can tell, if you produce the strategic plan or relationships, good relationships with your peers or decision, you know, good hiring decisions, that was, if I define the valuable contributions that a person makes, those things are concrete.
And we can tell, we can talk about what makes for a good word, and we can measure them. That is, we can count the good ones, and we can talk about the ones to improve. So that’s one place where accomplishments helped quite a bit. We can also evaluate and give specific feedback, a cup of coffee.
I wrote up a blog post a few years ago. There was an article in Harvard Business Review about the problems with feedback.
Anybody here that’s been involved in leadership or management development and so forth, knows about quite a bit about feedback, I’m sure. And there’s lots of ways to think about feedback, But there are a lot of things where feedback can be challenging, because it’s usually about behavior.
The nice thing about an accomplishment, whether it’s a relationship about a relationship, or a decision, or a widget, or a document, or a suggestion, or a recommendation, is that we can look at it. And we can say, Oh, well, this is really good, But here’s some ways you can improve it, and now let’s talk about how you might do that!
And what’s beautiful about that conversation is that it gets very objective. It doesn’t get very subjective in. The way that sometimes feedback conversations can get, it’s, it’s like, let’s take a look at this. Let’s see if there’s a good one and see if we can help improve it. So you can get quite specific about that. It’s also. And this is where I really run into problems with competency modeling. I don’t know, again, I’m not sure who all is in the room in terms of your experience, but I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people about the big companies about competency. Well, you had one colleague, for example, is a Senior Vice president. And he told me a few times, he said, you know, the HR people tell me that I should give too many force because we got to give people places. you know to grow. And beside that, everybody can be for us. We got five, so we got to know. We gotta do it on a curve.
And it’s like, wait a minute. If, if you’re making decisions like this, in what way is this an objective measurement of anything? And my cynical joke about it, of course, is, you know, it depends on whether the person rating you had, you know, they’ve cup of coffee this morning, or whatever. And I’ve also been in 1 to 1 conversations with people like … and very senior HR folks.
And I’ve asked them, how’s that competency modeling thing going for you? And very often, if they’re not in a room with their peers or colleagues, they will kind of roll their eyes, kind of a problem.
But we’re stuck with it, because it’s embedded in all of our systems.
But it is more objective. If we take an accomplishment based approach, we can, we can count them. We can define good ones, We can give feedback, we can evaluate them. And one of the cool things is that it’s not, I’m not arguing, everyone should get rid of their competency modeling immediately.
You know, there’s there’s a lot of investments that have been made in competency model, but what’s nice about it is: competencies and accomplishments can coexist. You can have a development plan, or a coaching exercise, or a process improvement effort, or a training program, which enables people to produce accomplishments. And in doing so, maybe it refers to some of the competencies required for that. But fundamentally, it’s about enabling people to produce the valuable contributions they need to for their organizations.
There’s another aspect of accomplishments or work outputs that is pretty powerful that we’ve learned over the years. It’s kind of important and especially these days in the era of the great resignation where organizations are concerned about retaining employees and people leaving and employee engagement and all that. People are very concerned about really engaging their employees. And what we’ve noticed over the years is, if I’m a manager or supervisor leader, and I’m trying to tell people, you know, if you ask a lot of open-ended questions, or if you would just, you know, pause before you speak, or whatever, describing behavior. This will really make a difference.
But it’s a little bit hard sometimes to make that direct click. On the other hand, if we say, If you make a good decision of this kind, or if you produce a good report, or if your widget is up to spec, or if you’ve developed a team that meet certain criteria, whatever those outputs are, it’s usually a lot easier to draw a credible link from the workout. Put her accomplishment to some business result that. You know, it’s really important, Like my favorite example is, you have, sometimes you have employees could do something like fill out some little form on the screen, maybe dozens of times a day.
And it’s pretty easy to get bored with, that, it’s pretty easy to get kinda lackadaisical about as part of your job, so you have to do it. Well, if you’re a supervisor or manager, and say, You know, this will form you fill out a whole bunch of times, a day. It’s pretty important, because, if you get an accurate, if you’ve got all the information there, if it’s timely, This is going to contribute to regulatory compliance, or this will support our customer satisfaction, or this will contribute to safety, Would it, depending what the form is about. So, people’s, it’ll kind of open up. people’s eyes. And so one of the things we’ve learned as part of the employee engagement story is that accomplishments that help you, as a manager or leader, really enabling people to know how they contribute.
There’s a lot more to it than that. We actually have a YouTube channel at performance thinking dot TV. And I did a webinar on this topic, though, some months ago. And you can check it out. There’s a lot more to it, to employee engagement. So if you’re interested, you can check that out.
We talk a lot about, and, of course, the title of this session is about accomplishment based talent development.
So let me sort of slow down a little bit here and talk about loops.
Because if you think of the talent development process, from Go going from the hiring, from hiring to ongoing development, and everything in between.
So you might even call it count management. People have different phrases for this.
But first of all, if we’re recruiting people, I think most people are moderately aware that the typical job description, for example, is, is often much more of a marketing thing to try to recruit people.
Then, it really is an explicit expectations, senator, for the person once they’re in the job.
And so, and, also, we know that best practices for recruitment often include things like, in the hiring process, having really good behavioral interviews.
So, you know, if you ever done this, if you’re done that, and so forth, and talking about the implications of that, so you can get a sense of how the person, you know, if you ever had a tough relationship to try to improve? Or if you’ve ever produced a strategic plan, or, you know, what’s your vision, your experience, and making decisions about, whether to hire people or not, or whatever it is.
Oh, behavioral interviews are a common thing. And the other thing is performance tests.
There’s a fair number of jobs where we want to give people performance as fact, my son, who’s a budding software engineer who’s now been in the business. And if you start ups over the years, remember, when he was first sort of applying for jobs, he would go to software companies, and they would give him some performance tests, and they would see, you know, Here’s can you can you fix this algorithm, Can you do whatever it is. And so, at the very front end, if we have the definition of a job, in, terms of the main accomplishments that it’s supposed to contribute, it, lets us create performance tests, creep, behavioral interviews, and so forth, related to the accomplishments at that job needs to produce.
And it’s really, it’s, it’s more concrete, It’s easier to work with, in many ways than if you don’t have a description of accomplishments.
Then, when you’re onboarding people, no.
The word onboarding means different things in different companies, I know, and sometimes it just means the meeting you have with people, where their desks are, and how to get their computer or whatever it is. But in a fair number of companies, it means a process for the first X number of days, weeks, or months on the job by.
one of the things that I often think of, what I think about onboarding is, I did a lot of work in large, South Korean companies in the early two thousands, like LG and digest, cal texts and so forth. And I remember speaking with, and this is the Korean culture, it’s a different, especially, you know, 15 years ago was a different culture, really, than the American work culture.
And I remember asking one of the senior HR people I was working with. Like, you guys do onboarding, right. And it takes six months while you have a six month onboarding program at night.
And I remember saying, what are you trying to get to at the end of your onboarding process? And the answer was, we want to have an employee who’s committed to working with us for life.
Now, when I heard that, I felt like I was in America back in the fifties or something, because most people don’t work for companies for life these days, at least people under a certain age, or in certain industries. But, in that, in that world, it was, you know, they really were looking for loyal committed employees.
To step back from that, I think, a very smart way to think about onboarding is what, over the first days and weeks, and maybe even months of your job, do you need to get up to speed?
And so if we have a definition of your job, that is all those kind of accomplishments I showed you in those individual performance maps.
It gets a lot easier for HR or for, for onboarding manager or for a supervisor or manager to say, these are the things we really need to focus on first week or so. So you can get really up to speed on these things. And then there’s some things that don’t happen quite so often aren’t quite as critical. And we can look at those and then in the next few weeks and then you know, by three months from now, we want you to be up to speed on all this stuff. And so accomplishments give you a very kind of sure footed way to stage the the bringing people into an organization and into their jobs. So onboarding can be really made again. We’re sure footed in many ways by focusing on accomplishments.
And then, job readiness, or training, however you want to talk about it.
You know, once you kind of up to speed a little bit, presumably, there’s ongoing training, or new job training, or specific technical skills and knowledge training.
And even for so-called soft skills, you know, if we’re focused on good relationships, or we’re going to have a successful meeting, or we want to have a good decision in the group. In other words, that the things that we do with other people that require soft skills. We’re not going to discredit the notion of soft skills. But what we’re going to say is what’s the purpose of those skills in this context?
Let’s talk about the things that we need people to produce, and then you know what they need to do to produce those. And then, among other things, what skills they need.
So, job readiness, what we always recommend is that we think of training objectives, not as about explicitly just skills and knowledge, or behavior. But we say, at the end of this training program, or this training module, you’re going to be able to produce the following things.
And those things might be, again, decisions, widgets, documents, relationships.
You know, a properly assembled device, you know, equipment that passes, a checkout, whatever it is, those are things as are accomplishments, and we can define the objectives of our training programs with those.
one of the things that I’ve learned over several decades, actually, of doing accomplishment based training, is that if you know, for example, in our programs, when we certify people to be performance thinking practitioners, basically performance consult, or when we develop coaches and leaders and managers, We will typically say, we want you to be able to have a really crisp, good decision, or a description, rather, of a work output. Or we want you to be able to produce an individual performance, or we want you to be able to produce a good, sort of coaching session, set of notes, for action steps that you and the person you’re coaching, they’re going to do. In other words, we do. We say at the end of each module, We want you to be able to produce these things, and very often, the things are parts, or components of the larger thing we’re trying to enable people to develop.
And what’s really nice about that is if you build your, your, your training, and your feedback, and your conversation with the trainees, and you’re if it’s e-learning, you can focus how the e-learning provides feedback, and so forth.
But if you focus that an outputs, then as if you’re, especially if it’s training with the facilitator, that facilitator could be paying attention. And I know, in my own experience, I work with groups and …. They’re having a hard time, writing good descriptions of behavior, or they’re having a hard time creating really crisp individual performance maps, or analysis, and design documents.
And so we can look at those outputs.
And if we’ve defined what a good one is, during the course of training, it’s a lot easier to adjust and provide feedback that it is, if we’re just talking about behavior, which is a little bit fuzzier.
So when we do job readiness, we define the objectives as accomplishments.
Then in the context we set expectations. We give people feedback. We give them the tools and resources they need. We arrange, ideally, partnering with managers and leaders for recognition consequences and incentives, basically that, yeah, that’s great. You did a good one.
We be sure they have skills and knowledge, But we do that in a systemic way to be sure that people can produce as accomplishments, you know, high levels of productivity as well as engagement, we want to arrange those conditions, so people also like producing those valuable products. So, once we got people ready for a job, we then are in a position to be able to say, OK, let’s move into a coaching process.
And we teach an accomplishment based coaching process, which is very different from the typical coaching and we’re not again, we’re not trying to displace the typical approach to coaching.
But what we’ve learned is that if I, as a coach or supervisor, manager, sit down with person, you know, team member, and I start out by defining that individual performance map with me, and say, Let’s get real clear on what the expectations are for your job. We have a conversation about that.
And at that point, the person is very clear, and so, is the person being a coach or manager about sort of what expectations are, Then the conversation goes into, Well, what?
What can we improve? Which of these accomplishments should we focus on? Or, what do we need for the next project that maybe you’re not able to produce right now?
Or, or what do we need for your career path? Because you want to move into level two of this, job, right? And so what are the things that level twos are gonna require you to produce? So, let’s pick one. You know. So, you pick an accomplishment in any given coaching session and you have a conversation about like, what’s? What is a good one?
You know, we talk about that. OK, and what do you need to do?
How much do you need to know, and that’s where I can apply something like situational leadership, where I, where we can, depending on the person’s experience, we can get more or less detailed. We can get more or less directive, and then we say, OK, you’re clear on what you need to do. The behavior. So now let’s think about what we can do, what action steps we can take to help you improve your ability to produce this output, whatever it is. And so, if you, if that’s a talent development cycle, if that’s a regular cadence of check ins, between manager and individual contributor, that becomes an engine for continuous development.
So, when we think of accomplishment based talent developed, we think of an end to end thing. We’re focusing on the valuable contributions that people need to make their jobs is at the core of it. And there was an article, and, oh, of course, once, you know, on a regular basis, we can identify, is this person ready for promotion or transferred to other department? Are we going to export them so that they become a manager of another team? Or are we going to do compensation reviews? So we can build all that stuff on accomplishments again.
Now, there’s an article a few years ago. You might find interesting. It was called HR Goes Agile, And I still keep referring back to it, because it’s a pretty long article.
But what it says at the core is that the companies that are being really good at keeping up with the change of no business, the pace of change in business, are agile, was the word of the year that year, I think. But, but what they said is a really good ones have put in place a regular coaching process so that the coach or manager becomes the kinda quarterback for continuous development of their people. And that that allows you to do a much better and more nuanced job at developing individuals than something like a quarterly learning plan, or, you know, just go to the LMS. Because it allows you to then bring those people in to, you know, an ongoing conversation.
Um, we can also focus on training and performance improvement. I’ve already sort of said this. But Joe Harless, one of my colleagues, as I mentioned, had this approach called accomplish it based curriculum development. And so what he would do is he would say, OK, here’s the job title. Here are the accomplishments of that job title.
Now, let’s figure out what the tasks and steps are that people need to produce that. And let’s drive our training and development around that. But it’s all anchored to accomplishments.
And our logic, what we call performance thinking logic, applies to this.
And when I showed you the performance chain, I sort of talked about this, but let me take you step step by step through it, because whether I’m coaching an individual or doing a big multi-year project, like some of our clients do with this work, it goes like this. You start out wanting to be sure, you know what, what’s at stake? What’s why are we doing this? Again, you know, what are the business results we’re expecting.
OK, once we got that, let’s let’s take a look at the process, or the job, or the role, and say, what are the outputs involved? And are we sure they all contribute to?
Business Results, This is where it’s something like Lean process improvement can come in, because any of you who know about that recognize one of the things in Lean as you’re trying to get rid of waste. And every once in awhile you find like a forum or something that’s in the thing. You say, well, this doesn’t add any value. It does that actually contribute to business results. They might get rid of that. But anyway, we want to be real clear about how the outputs contribute.
Then we say, OK, what do you need to do to produce this output? What, you know, we might do task analysis, we might observe successful performance. We might also observe, are superstars if we have any exemplary performers and capture the small bits of really exemplary behavior that they have that make them productive. And once we’ve done that analysis, then we’re in a good place to measure, because we can measure behavior. We do sometimes and safety environments and other places, we can measure business results. The challenge with that is, it’s usually a lagging indicator. And so, you don’t get very many data points, and you can’t make a lot of decisions.
In our view, the highly underutilized thing is to measure outputs. And that’s a whole conversation we could do another webinar on. But once you know what you’re measuring, then we use a model. Our model called the six Boxes Model.
That is a way to think through behavior influences and we analyze what’s working.
And then we brainstorm improvements, And then we choose possible improvements.
And we configure a plan that we can implement and measure and continuously improve.
And so this, this is sort of an engine of continuous development in the way we think about almost everything.
We can measure talent development in a variety of ways. If we take an accomplishment based approach, we can, you know, we can count new or improved accomplishments or quarter. I’d like to look at an individual and say how many new things or you doubt or better things are you now producing this, quarter’s at last? We can also look at managers ability to develop their people.
Because, if they have a clear crisp set of descriptions of the people’s jobs that are based on accomplishments, we can actually count.
Look at the development of those of those people. And you can be both coaching and non coaching types of interventions. We can We can also look at weeks of ramp up to full productivity. I remember we did a project at AT&T Wireless some years ago.
And with their customer service environment, we were able to take, it used to take them two months to get people up to benchmark productivity through this kind of whole approach.
We were able to reduce that to two weeks, and then they continued to develop and became 60% more productive in terms of solutions or calls for our first time resolution than than the people had in the previous approach. And then, of course, we can look at promotions. There’s a bunch of ways, once we focused on accomplishments, that we could measure, talent development.
And, in my opinion, at least, it’s a heck of a lot better to count accomplishments than it is to say, are you at 3, 4, or five, in this competencies, rating scale thing?
We can even do, and I don’t want to get deeply into it, although it’s one of the things we’re offering. We can even do accomplish based executive coaching, because once you define a senior, senior leaders, accomplishments, or outputs, you can start asking them, questions like, well, which ones are the most important, Or had the highest leverage, and which ones consume most of your time. And can you delegate any of them? And what you’re doing is, you’re working with that senior leader to help them see the effect of their contributions in their organizations, and how to optimize their own contributions. So here’s some takeaways.
Accomplishments focus on the value, and we think value delivered is kind of where it’s at.
Leaders and managers, when they have a clear definition of their people’s accomplishments or outputs, it’s a lot easier to clarify expectations for what you want from your people. Oops, and you can also in the process, connect people up to business or organizational results, as I pointed out a little bit earlier.
We can build performance maps and job profiles really concretely in a fairly straightforward way using accomplishments. We can code accomplishments that meet criteria, and it’s very objective.
And we think this whole approach can empower you.
Agile talent development process that some of our clients have adopted, especially if we have coaching involved.
I want to mention now, this is the Shameless Commerce moment. Which is that we’re really excited about this partnership with the HR DQ. And this, this QR code here, or the link there, will take you to a landing page where you can get pretty substantial discounts on these three offerings of ours. The performance thinking executive coaching would be with me. We have a few seats a week that we can fill with senior leaders where we can help them basically create an individual performance map for themselves and begin to look at their impact on the organization and optimize that.
It’s a really fun exercise in some of the executives I’ve worked with rave about it. But anyway, we’re offering a discount on that. If anybody’s interested, we also have our Performance, The Practitioner Program, and that’s really our sort of mother of all programs. It’s a certification program for Performance Improvement Professionals. That could be an HR training, or process improvement, or O, D. But it’s all about defining performance, following that logic, and then improving it. And so the way we do that is, we teach people over a period of virtual sessions, and then we help them select a real project in their environment.
And we coach them through the completion of that project following the guidelines we’ve provided. And people get certified as performance thinking practitioners. And then we have our annual summer institute.
You can read about it on our website, but it is one of the most fun things in the world, From my perspective, We’re going to do our 12th one. We do it every June.
And we assemble, typically 50 plus, or minus people, on Bainbridge island, near Seattle, beautiful environmental education place at about 250 acres, with five Star family style meals and a wonderful community of people. A lot of people have told us, over the years, that this is the best professional development experience of their lives. And so we’re offering because of our partnership with HIV to a discount in each of those things.
And then, finally, here’s just the contact information. I wanted to mention. Our website is performance thinking dot com.
Our YouTube channel that I made some reference to is, performance thinking dot TV will get you there. And my e-mail address is Carl Binder and six boxes that common, although I tend to be backed up a bit, I had I get hundreds of e-mails a day. I will respond if you e-mail me there, and it would be lovely to have a conversation. So that’s pretty much what I have to say here. I think.
We probably want to talk about questions and see if people have any questions or comments.
And I think Sarah is coming, mediate them.
We have a few minutes here to answer some questions. And we had a question come in earlier from Sandra and Sandra asks, how does competence competency modeling resonate with key performance indicators?
Well, that’s a really good question, and I’m probably not good best expert to talk about it. But the challenge that I have with competency modeling, if you understand what competencies came from me, they’re an abstraction. And what I know about it is that early on, when people were looking at leadership behavior, and they wanted to identify the things that really successful leaders do, it came up with more than 100 types of behavior.
And that’s too much to deal with. So they sorted them into categories or piles, and they named those piles. And that’s what became competencies. And so competencies are the names of whole categories of behavior.
And the problem that I have with that is that, if we’re talking to an individual about particular performance, we’re not talking about a category behavior, We’re talking about the behavior needed to produce this.
And so, I think in organizations where people have KPIs where they have metrics of some result they expect to achieve, they try to make a connection between competencies and those, those outputs. But, out of those, you know, those results as measured things.
I think it’s a loose, a pretty loose connection.
And the contrast, of course, that we’d like to propose, is that, if you define the actual outputs, the things that people need to produce, it’s those things that produce the results.
And so our KPIs can either be measures of the things, like, how many deals did you close this gear? Or whatever, or they could be measure of the aggregate business results to which those things contribute.
So, I guess my answer is, I think it’s a little bit abstract and fuzzy to try to connect up the competencies to KPIs, even though everybody talks about it, Whereas I think it’s a lot easier to define KPIs founded on a accomplish based approach.
And we have another question here from Laurie who asks, What would be a good? What would be good ways to help employees see accomplishments in an industry with a lot of public scrutiny, such as child welfare?
Well, that’s very interesting. I, again, what we go back to when we, if we do an organizational performance, improve things. So, for example, we’re working on some training or development program, or an onboarding program, or whatever. We take whatever the job role is the job, or we may look at a process in which multiple people are involved. But in either case, we have this conversation about what are the outputs? And we, there’s a whole methodology for doing that.
The individual performance map is a cool way to do it for roles or individuals, because you can instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, saying, What are your contributions and your accomplishments?
You say, Who do you deliver value to? And once you’ve got those customers laid out, you can say, Who do you? What do you deliver the VP? What do you give to your peers? What do you give to that?
You know, whoever And so once you’ve defined those outputs, then it’s a heck of a lot easier.
Whether this scrutiny or not, to look at, that, now, we work, for example, one of our industry segments, is the Behavioral Health World. We work with a lot of growing organizations of clinicians and educators who work with people on the autism spectrum, and so there’s a fair amount of public scrutiny there, and there’s quite a lot of regulatory compliance issues. And so, one of the things we find in that world is that, if we defined people’s jobs with the accomplishments, we expect from them.
Or, if we look at processes like clinical processes, onboarding processes, et cetera, and we define the outputs inside those, those processes, It’s a lot more objective and less open to no interpretation as to whether people are accomplishing those things.
So I would argue, even though, I don’t know if it’s a direct answer to your question, I would argue that when there’s public scrutiny, we want to be sure we got it right. And so if we can actually define what good outputs are of a job. You know, the specific things. The decisions, the relationships, the widgets, the documents. The plans that the kids who make improvement, the families, who are now not in trouble, whatever it is, and we can then look at whether people are accomplishing those things or not. That’s a pretty objective C, and I think it stands up to scrutiny in transparency.
I don’t know if that answered your question, but that’s how I would think about it.
And it looks like we have time here for one more question coming from me, and who asks, what about professional development programs for employees, as that also considered an accomplishment?
Well, I wouldn’t say that the program is an employee, the program design, or is the output The program design might be. This is actually a really weak. I’ll try to make this brief, because I know we don’t have much time, but when people say training as an output, an accomplished, I say, no, it isn’t training as an activity.
And so, if you’re a training or instructional designer or trainer, things like your training materials, your instructional design, your analysis document, the materials you give to your trainees, and so forth, those are all your outputs.
But ultimately, what you and the CEO ought to be cared about, is whether you have employees, who can now do or produce things.
And so, as you probably know, the training and development world, we try to talk about measurement, in my view, is that we need to be able to measure whether people can actually produce the things that the training is supposed to enable them to do, or the components of those.
And if we can do that, then our outputs are people who can produce a budget, a develop a relationship, you know, sell a widget, people who can complete a form, whatever it is.
So, what I would say is that training is an activity or development activity programs. The design of the program is an output of the designer. The materials, as I said, are outputs of the designer. But what we’re really looking at as training professionals are prefers professionals is an app will be people who could measurably do stuff that we can check off. Yup, they can do that.
So, I hope that answers your question.
OK, and that does conclude our Q&A for the day and brings us here just at the top of the hour. Thank you so much, doctor Binder, for your time today and an information packed webinar.
Well, you’re most welcome. It’s a pleasure to do this.
And today’s webinar is sponsored by HRDQstore. You can learn more about it at HRDQstore. And for all of you that stuck around for the entirety of today’s event, you are pre qualified for the credit.
You will receive, and follow up messaging on how you can receive your activity ID and certificates.
And with that here, that does bring us to the end of our event. And thank you all for participating in today’s webinar, And I look forward to seeing you next week.
Thank you so much, Sarah, and thanks, everybody, for participating.

Transcript courtesy of GoToWebinar

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