Your Time to Shine

Performance management is more than a learning tool—it’s a business methodology that can bring L&D to the forefront of achieving business success.

Learning leaders can’t seem to shake a terrible habit. They keep trying to manipulate various business methodologies to their convenience. And then they’re surprised when it doesn’t work.

They are doing it with the current flavor of the day: performance management. Even though Learning and Development (L&D) is relevant to improving performance, many Learning leaders fail to understand that business leaders don’t concern themselves about what people learn, but rather how they apply knowledge to improve performance.

Actual performance management is more than simply shoving knowledge into people’s heads and hoping they use it. Performance management is a business methodology that aligns to executing strategy, not a specific methodology created for L&D. Performance management comprises various organizational activities essential to achieving business objectives where “people” performance is one component. Performance management focuses on four areas specifically:

  • People
  • Process
  • Infrastructure
  • Culture

Together, these core elements lead to customer satisfaction and ultimately to financial success.


Most business leaders say people are their organization’s greatest assets. In reality, people are an organization’s business drivers. Progressive business leaders recognize that motivating people is central to improving performance. And they recognize that knowledge and information drive competitiveness. Successful Learning leaders marry the two to drive value, show relevance, and foster a knowledge-curious environment within the performance framework.


Successful Learning leaders perpetually study their organization’s internal processes (referred to as the value chain). They learn about what’s done and, more importantly, how it’s done. Essentially, they investigate how the organization creates value through its process to precisely identify targeted performance learning opportunities (see Porter’s Value Chain:

Every performance framework will explicitly identify internal processes and the associated performance objectives. Learning leaders who zero in on these performance areas provide deeper insight into what employees need to know to function effectively.


People can’t function properly if they don’t have the proper tools, resources, and environment. Savvy business and Learning leaders recognize early and often what the organization requires to achieve peak performance efficiency.

Successful Learning leaders work closely with operations to continually review infrastructure requirements, applying cost-benefit analyses. They understand that newer technology may improve a process but also may incur costs that exceed the proposed benefits.


Ever notice that your well-thought-through learning intervention failed to gain any traction within your organization? Chances are it didn’t catch on because of your organizational culture.

Performance expectations are driven by, and largely depend on, the type of culture business leaders set. For example, Silicon Valley tech companies set high performance expectations largely because they exist within competitive and fast-paced innovative environments. So within this culture, business leaders expect seamless learning interventions that fully integrate with employee efforts.

Successful companies, such as Toyota, incorporate another performance methodology layer known as Lean Six Sigma. The “Toyota way” is a leading example that effectively brings together people, process, and infrastructure. Its management philosophy and practices drive a continuous improvement and exceptional quality culture. And learning is far from an afterthought—Toyota embeds learning within its processes and makes it part of the culture.

Performance management didn’t come about for L&D’s purposes, but it is every Learning leader’s opportunity to shine. So rise and shine today!

Ajay M. Pangarkar, CTDP, CPA, CMA, and Teresa Kirkwood, CTDP, are founders of and They are employee performance management experts and three-time authors—most recently publishing the leading performance book, “The Trainer’s Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy” (Wiley)—and assessment specialists for Training magazine. Pangarkar recently was named ELearning Magazine’s 2016 Thought-Leader. Help them start a “Workplace Revolution” at or contact: