Performance Factors: What Are They and Why Do They Matter in Training?


If you work in training, you’ve likely witnessed the following situation before: management spots a performance problem so they immediately request training to fix it. Training requests can sometimes be a knee-jerk reaction to a performance issue, and the problem there is that training won’t fix any and all performance problems.

If a performance problem in a call center is caused by a slow or faulty computer system, will training employees fix the problem? No. Training can only fix performance problems that are caused by a lack of knowledge and skills, which is what training provides.

If a workplace problem is caused by a performance factor other than a lack of knowledge and skills, training is unlikely to resolve that problem. That’s why it’s critical for instructional designers to follow-up on training requests and gain a deeper understanding of the training needs, why the request is being made, and the specific performance problem at hand. As you gather this information, the goal is to identify which performance factor is causing the performance issue.

Key factors that affect how employees perform:

  • Knowledge and skills
  • Incentives and motivation
  • Mental and physical abilities
  • Tools and equipment
  • Standard and processes
  • Feedback and measurement

Every time you identify or suspect a performance problem, run through a list of the following questions while considering the problematic task and the employees who perform it. Any questions you answer “no” to might indicate that that performance factor is contributing to the problem.

Knowledge & Skills

  • Do employees have the knowledge to perform the task?
  • Do employees have the skills to perform the task?
  • Have the employees been trained on how to perform the task?
  • Do the employees perform the task regularly?

Incentives & Motivation

  • Are employees motivated to perform the task?
  • Are incentives in place for employees that perform the task?

Mental & Physical Capacity 

  • Do employees have the mental capacity to perform the task?
  • Do employees have the physical capacity to perform the task?

Tools & Equipment

  • Do employees have the necessary tools and equipment to perform the task?
  • Do employees have access to the appropriate technology to perform the task?

Processes & Standards

  • Do employees have a clear and defined process in place they can follow to complete the task?
  • Do employees know the standards to which the task needs to be completed?

Feedback & Recognition

  • Do employees receive feedback or recognition on how they are completing the task?

Remember: training can only resolve performance problems that are caused by a lack of knowledge and skills. Many unnecessary training programs are created that don’t fix the underlying business problem. As an instructional designer, it’s crucial that that you analyze a performance problem and understand its root issue before you start designing a training solution. This will help you, and your clients, ensure the training you’re creating is valuable and provides a positive Return on Investment.

Have you ever had to build training that was unnecessary? Have you ever identified the performance factors affecting a workplace problem? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more e-learning and training content.

The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist


The onboarding process is a critical experience that shapes a new hires vision and expectations of their new job and workplace. It’s important that organizations make a good first impression and implement a thorough onboarding process.

This ultimate onboarding checklist covers onboarding tasks across multiple departments: Human Resources, IT/Security, Facilities, Hiring Managers, and more.

Human Resources

  • Send welcome email to new hire including:
    • Where to go on day 1
    • Arrival time
    • Parking instructions
    • Dress code
    • Day 1 schedule
  • Complete the background check
  • Add new hire to HRIS/Personnel systems
  • Prepare forms and documents
    • Official offer letter
    • Contract or work agreement
    • Tax forms
    • Health and benefits forms
    • Payroll forms
    • Work permits or visas
    • Additional documentation
  • Provide employee handbook
  • Provide benefits information
  • Announce new hire and start date
  • Schedule a first day check in with HR
  • Schedule orientation
  • Schedule team lunch
  • Schedule lunch with CEO
  • Schedule check-in meetings:
    • 1 week
    • 30 day
    • 90 day
    • 6 month
    • 1 year
  • Provide new hire information about:
    • Pay schedule
    • Holidays
    • Sick leave
    • Vacation time
    • Dress code
    • Benefits
    • Employee purchase policy
    • Performance reviews
    • Mandatory compliance training

Hiring Manager

  • Assign a peer mentor
  • Send a welcome email
  • Introduce to the team
  • Introduce to stakeholders and key contacts
  • Schedule one-on-ones
  • Prepare training schedule
  • Set goals for new hire:
    • 1st month
    • 3 months
    • 6 months
    • 1 year
  • Schedule day 1 meeting and discuss:
    • Hours of work and schedule
    • Company culture
    • Job expectations
    • Role and responsibilities
    • First project or assignment


  • Order any required IT hardware
  • Create Active Directory User ID
  • Create email account
  • Provide access to shared networks
  • Provide security system access (physical and virtual)
  • Provide access to distribution lists
  • Provide access to databases
  • Provide access to company system
  • Provide access to company accounts
  • Setup and configure computer
  • Deliver IT equipment (remote)
  • Setup and configure office phone
  • Setup and configure mobile device
  • Provide login credentials
  • Provide training on:
    • Web Security
    • Email
    • Password security tool (Okta, LastPass, etc.)
    • Messaging systems (Slack, Teams,etc.)
    • Company website and intranet
    • Company systems
  • Provide instructions to:
    • Reset initial network password
    • Access the VPN
    • Get IT Support
    • Use printers and scanners
  • Schedule a first day IT check in with new hire


  • Order company swag
  • Setup desk and workspace
  • Take employee photo
  • Create security ID badge
  • Create biometrics
  • Create parking pass
  • Provide tour of office:
    • Desk
    • Elevators/Stairs
    • Washrooms
    • Fire exits
    • Parking
    • Kitchen/Cafeteria
    • Meeting rooms


  • Add new hire to payroll
  • Provide training on how to submit expenses

Peer Mentor/Buddy

  • Send welcome email to new hire
  • Schedule day 1 meeting
  • Schedule week 1 meeting
  • Schedule month 1 meeting
  • Schedule month 2 meeting

Did I miss any steps in the onboarding process in this checklist? Please let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more training tips and tricks.

How to Define a Business Process


Here’s a situation I have witnessed before: management decides they want to train employees on an important topic, such as web security. They ask an Instructional Designer (ID) to put together a course that includes important security information. One of the topics they want the training to cover is how to report a security breach. When you ask your security Subject Matter Expert (SME): What are the steps to report a security breach? You get a lot of head-scratching and confused looks. No one has ever defined that process. How should the breach be reported… should it be an email? A phone call? Who should receive that email or call? What if the breach happens during a holiday? Your SME isn’t really sure of the answer because it’s never been formally defined or documented. But if the organization wants to train employees how to report a security breach, the business first needs to answer those questions and properly define the business process.

The above-mentioned scenario is a common one, as many businesses (especially start-ups and smaller sized organizations) don’t have a great deal, if any, of their processes documented. Employees are all getting things done their own way, which works… until it doesn’t.

This illustrates why training and business processes go hand-in-hand. When you’re training employees, you’re teaching them how to carry out business processes. If there is no documented business process or no defined way of doing things, how can you teach employees how it’s done? This is why sometimes, as an ID or training designer, you might need to be able to define business processes as a part of your job.

Here are the high-level steps you can follow to document your business processes.

Choose the starting point

The first step is to identify the starting point for your business process. A business process typically involves many steps and covers many sub-processes. Some of the steps that occur earlier in the process may affect what happens further down the line. But your process could cover too much and be too far-reaching if you don’t select the right start and end point. Another helpful tip is to start by covering the most common scenario, to avoid covering too much.

Let’s look at an example. Say you’re defining the business process for how to onboard a new employee. A logical starting point for this process could be when the new hire accepts the job offer. The onboarding process might be different for a full-time employee vs. an intern, but if 80% of the new hires are full-time employees, it’s probably a good idea to start with that. 

Identify all the roles involved

Business processes often involve multiple roles and span across multiple departments. The first part of the process might be carried out by one role, then passed along to someone in a different department, then it goes to another person, and so on. You’ll want to identify and include all of the job titles and departments that need to provide approvals, make decisions, or be notified as a part of the process.

The onboarding process involves people across multiple departments. It might involve a Recruiter who sends the final job offer, a Human Resources Administrator who creates an employee profile for the new hire, an IT Specialist who sets up the computer, a Finance team member to add the new hire to payroll, and others. 

Interview people

Asking questions and interviewing the people who carry out the business processes is integral to understanding exactly how the processes are done. You’ll need to sit down with each person involved, one at a time, and have them explain, step-by-step, how they do their job. You’ll ask questions like:

  • What is the trigger that kicks off this process?
  • Why do you do it this way?
  • How do you get this piece of information?
  • What is the next thing you do immediately after this step?
  • What happens if this step goes wrong?

You will continue this line of questioning until you reach the end of their part of the process.

For example, to understand the onboarding process you would start by sitting down with the Recruiter and asking them to walk through their portion of the process, step by step. You might start by asking “What is the first thing you do when an offer is accepted by a new hire?”. Say they respond: “Once the offer is accepted, I communicate this to the rest of the team.” your follow-up questions might then be “How do you communicate this? Who do you communicate it with? Why do those specific people need to know? What would happen if they didn’t?” and so on. 

Document each step

As you’re interviewing the people involved in the process you’re defining, you want to properly document each step in the appropriate order. It’s also a good idea to include relevant notes or tidbits of information that could affect the outcome or that might impact that step.

For the Recruiter involved in the onboarding process, the steps might look like: 

  1. Email the final offer to the candidate with instructions and a deadline for acceptance
  2. Receive the email from the candidate accepting the new offer
  3. Email the candidate to welcome them to the team and provide instructions for the next step which is completing a background check (notes here could include exactly what is needed from the candidate to submit the background check in terms of ID, etc.)
  4. Send an email to HR, IT, Finance, and the new hires boss to communicate the offer acceptance and the start date (notes here could include the text from an example email and disclaimer that start date is pending successful background check)
  5. Receive email with information for the background check 
  6. Initiate the background check process (this step could have further sub-steps that explains exactly how to do this)

Specify time frames

One of the crucial things you’ll want to identify is the time frame when each step happens. Identifying the time frames is key to making sure that things happen in a timely fashion and in an order that makes sense.

For example, if the background check takes 10 business days to process, you’ll want to document that in your steps. The timing of steps will impact subsequent steps and processes. For example, the new hire can’t start until the background check is complete. This means they can’t join the team until a  minimum of 10 business days after the background check process has been initiated. The timing of when that process is kicked off will affect when they come on board. 

Create a flow chart

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is why it’s a good idea to create a visual flow chart of all the steps, roles, and the time frames involved in the process. The flow chart allows you to conceptualize the steps in the process and see how they flow across the different departments. It also makes it easier to pinpoint problems or disconnects in the process.

Here’s an example flow chart for the onboarding process:


Defining business processes is an involved task, but it’s a necessary part of creating effective training. Keep in mind that business processes are ever-evolving; you’ll need to make updates and changes to the process over time.

Following the steps outlined above will help you define and document your processes. Having properly documented processes will help the business run more smoothly and will allow you to build more effective employee training.

Do you have any tips of your own for defining and documenting business processes? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more training tips and tricks.

Change Management Tips for Instructional Designers


Fatima has been working at a company for over 3 years and she’s very comfortable doing her job. She’s familiar with the systems and applications she uses to get her tasks done. Suddenly, her employer announces the company is implementing a brand-new computer system that will completely change how Fatima does her job. To top if off, the new system will be launched at the busiest time of year when Fatima is already stressed about work. Now she has to take training to re-learn everything, and she’s expected to be excited about the new system.

We all know that change is hard and humans are creatures of habit. We tend to be attached to daily routines and to our tried-and-tested ways of getting things done. How we do our jobs is no exception. 

Instructional designers often find themselves in situations where they have to act as agents of change. Reason being: training often involves teaching people new information, policies, or processes. Sometimes when we ask someone to change the way they’re doing their job, we can be met with an unwillingness or a disinclination to do so. This is when it’s handy to know basic change management techniques.

According to Prosci “Change management is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip, and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.” Since the goal of training is to drive organizational success and improve performance outcomes, we can see where there is a clear intersection between training and change management. Knowing some change management best practices can help you message your training in a way that gets employees on board and excited about it.

These are a few basic techniques to keep in in mind:

Communicate the Changes

This is an important point. It’s not a good idea to spring changes on people at the last minute; this leaves them feeling surprised and stressed out. It’s crucial to communicate that change (and training) is coming as far in advance as you can. This lets employees get used to the idea, and comfortable with the fact that changes are coming. You should communicate updates regularly as you get closer to implementing the changes and the training.

Explain the Why

Understanding why a change is happening is a big part of getting people on-side. Often, this isn’t communicated, and people are left wondering why a change even had to happen in the first place. They might wonder “What was wrong with the old way of doing things?”. This is why it’s a good idea to spell it out for them. For example: perhaps the old system or processes were slow and outdated, which caused employees to make mistakes or take longer to do their jobs. Or, perhaps a new law was passed, that made this change or training necessary. Communicating the why of the change is an important best practice.

Highlight the Benefits

Usually changes are made to improve the business bottom line, and hopefully there are benefits associated with those changes. Whether it be saving time, making a task easier, or improving the quality of an output, it’s important to highlight the benefits that the change and the training will bring to the employee affected by it. If an employee realizes they can do a task in half the time because of a change or new process, this may help them accept it more willingly.

Time Changes Appropriately

Timing a change is critical to it’s success. If the Accounting team is stressed to the max and working overtime hours in the last quarter of the year to make their annual deadlines, launching a new system at that time will lead to a lot of extra frustration and workplace tension. Be considerate of factors that affect employees and their productivity, such as peak seasons, when you time changes and execute training.

Implementing a training program that requires employees to change how they do their jobs can be a daunting task. If you keep these four change management best practices in mind the next time you implement a training program, you’ll be well on your way to getting employees to embrace the change.

Do you have any tips of your own for implementing change management techniques in the context of training? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more training tips and tricks.

Tips for Successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Training


Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient. They embark on a project to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to replace their legacy tools. The company spends months, maybe even years, working with consultants and employees to define new processes and customize the systems. Come launch time, they don’t provide adequate training and the employees don’t know how to use the new systems effectively. This leads to costly mistakes, wasted time, lost revenue, and many stressed out employees.

ERP implementations are typically large-scale projects with many stakeholders and moving parts; creating training for these projects comes with their own set of unique challenges. Planning for these challenges up front can help ensure you have a successful training program that plays a crucial role in the smooth rollout of a new system. Here are some important things to consider before you embark on your next ERP implementation training project.

Plan and prioritize training

Implementing and customizing an ERP system tends to be a huge financial investment, and as such, detailed proposals and plans are created to cover all aspects of the project. However, training for the new system is often listed as a vague deliverable that provides no specifics about how training will be designed or delivered. Not planning for training from the get-go is a costly mistake because the investment in a new system is wasted if the employees can’t properly use it. Include the training team in the project planning phase and allocate the appropriate budget, resources, and timelines for end-user training.

Identify training methods

You’re going to want to think about training methods up-front, during the planning phase. One of the most effective way to give learners a real world experience without risking costly mistakes in a real ERP system is through software simulations. They give employees the power to explore and use all the features of the ERP software they’ll use in the workplace. You’re probably going to want to consider at least some software simulations for ERP systems training. You might mix this with some instructor led training and live Q&A sessions to create a blended learning program.

Create curriculum by role

You’re not going to dump all the lessons on every employee; the employees who work in Engineering don’t need to take Accounting lessons on how to process an invoice. Instead, you’re going to tailor the curriculum by user roles. While you may have some core basic lessons that apply to everyone (logging in and out of the system, setting up your user profile, etc.), there should also be user-specific lessons that are pertinent to each role.

Work with the business

Training teams working on ERP implementations often find they have to work alongside the implementation team. You might find it useful to work with the business process analysts, as they create and test the new system processes (these are often called Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs). Consider using test scripts as a starting point for training development.  

Designate power users

For each role you identify, consider having one or two power users. These are (hopefully) helpful, quality employees who can help with the training and answer employee questions on-the-job. If there are employees who are already involved in the implementation, for example working as subject matter experts, these are great candidates for power users.

Incorporate real-life scenarios

Integrating real world examples and stories into your processes will make the training more practical and relevant. Instead of jumping into a step-by-step process without providing any context, introduce the process with a scenario that has realistic background information and details. Training that incorporates realistic scenarios helps learners know when and how to apply the tasks covered in the training in the real world.

Use change management techniques

  • Incorporating some basic change management techniques will go a long way to getting your learners on board. Be clear in explaining the benefits of the training, why it’s happening, and the impact of not completing it. Don’t assume end users will move seamlessly from one system to another, without detailing the specific reasons and benefits. Learn more about specific change management techniques for instructional designers here.
  • Following these tips will help ensure you have a successful ERP training program in place. Do you have any tips of your own for designing or developing training for ERP implementations? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more training tips and tricks.


    How to Organize, Analyze, and Prioritize Tasks for E-Learning


    The One Thing You Need To Do To Organize Training Content: Task Analysis

    Are you dealing with a huge pile of raw materials that need to be converted into an e-learning course or training programme? If so, you’re likely wondering how best to organize the content and filter out the need-to-know from the nice-to-know. If this sounds familiar to you, you need to acquaint yourself with the process of task analysis. Discover how a proper task analysis can organize your content so it focuses on what learners need to know on-the-job.

    Read full article.

    How to do a Task Analysis Like a Pro

    As I explain in this article, task analysis is one of the cornerstones of instructional design. Why is task analysis so important? The purpose of training is to teach learners how TO DO something; they should walk away from the training with new knowledge and skills they can apply on-the-job. When you focus on tasks, you’re more likely to accomplish this goal, as you’re focusing on the actual processes the learners will do on the job.  A task analysis is the process of systematically breaking down a task into a documented step-by-step process. This article explains how to first identify tasks, then break them down into sub-tasks, and finally, parse them into steps. It also contains some helpful task analysis dos and don’ts.

    Read full article.

    Instructional Designers: Remember These Factors When Prioritizing Tasks

    Once you’ve completed your task analysis, you’re going to need to organize and prioritize all the tasks you’ve analyzed. How should you order your tasks? This depends on a variety of factors: task importance, task frequency, task difficulty, and learner experience. Learn about these four factors and what you need to know to ensure your content focuses on the right tasks.

    Read full article.

    Have you ever done a task analysis before? If so, how did it go? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with others? If so, please leave me a comment below, I love to hear feedback.


    4 Reasons You Don’t Have an E-Learning Portfolio


    I find it surprising when an e-learning developer tells me they don’t have a portfolio. In certain industries, such as web design and graphic design, you simply can’t be viewed as a legitimate business person without a portfolio; I believe e-learning is also one of those industries. When I get asked for advice on hiring a great e-learning developer, my top recommendation is always: Don’t hire someone without seeing their portfolio.

    If you don’t have an e-learning portfolio, you probably have a reason. But if your reason is listed below, you should reconsider and remember that you’re working in a competitive, global market, where anyone can create a free blog or portfolio website in a few minutes.

    You’re Too Busy

    The “I’m too busy” excuse is the most common and most overused. You’re too busy to put time into creating something that could well hold the key to your success and potential future earnings? Your call.

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. Bottom line is: if something is truly a priority, you will make time for it. If it’s not a priority, you won’t. Potential clients don’t care about how busy your life is; they care about hiring a candidate who can show work that is up to their standard and get the job done.

    You Don’t Have Any Experience

    Maybe you do have the time but you’re new to the e-learning industry and have zero real-world experience or projects.

    Why this isn’t a good reason: First of all, don’t advertise this fact to potential clients. For many people “zero experience” equates to “lacking skills and credibility.”. If you don’t have any real world projects to add to your portfolio, don’t despair: create your own samples. Choose a topic that you’re a passionate about and develop a mini e-learning module. Which leads me to my next point…

    You Don’t Own E-Learning Software

    I’ve heard many people say the following: “I can’t create samples for a portfolio because I don’t own any e-learning authoring tools.”

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Just about every authoring tool out there offers a free, fully-functional 30-day trial. Take advantage of that and use your 30-days wisely! Create a few mini 5-slide e-learning courses that showcase your skills. Another option: Powerpoint! So many people have access to this but don’t take advantage of it to create awesome e-learning; you can even hyperlink slides to create branched scenarios and create engaging samples.

    You Signed an NDA

    This is one I’ve heard quite a few times: “I’ve done a lot of awesome things, but I can’t share any of it because I signed a nondisclosure agreement.”

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Anyone can say they’ve created great e-learning, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Of course you should never share confidential materials you’ve signed an NDA for, but there’s no harm in asking a client beforehand if you can use a sample of work, stripped of original content and identifying information, for your portfolio. This is a standard procedure in other industries, and often the request is included directly in the contract of work. If you can’t use any of the work you’ve signed an NDA for, don’t panic: you can still create your own samples!

    The e-learning industry is getting more competitive by the week and potential clients want a candidate who can demonstrate their skills and abilities, instead of taking a gamble on someone with nothing to show. Don’t give potential clients or employers a reason to pass you over: create that portfolio today!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts: are these legitimate reasons for not having a portfolio? Are there other reasons that I left out? Leave a comment below and let me know. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, as well in the E-Learning Heroes community, for all the latest.

    Post-Course Evaluations and E-Learning Analysis


    Post-Course Evaluations: What E-Learning Designers Need to Know

    If you’ve been in the training industry for awhile you may have heard that post-course evaluations are sometimes referred to as “smile sheets”. This is because as long as the evaluations receive mostly positive ratings, or “smiley faces”, we tend to classify the training as a success. However, the post-course evaluations are almost never a true reflection of how successful the training/e-learning actually really was and what it’s impact is on the bottom line. This article looks at some of the difficult questions you need to ask to help truly measure the success of your e-learning with your post-course evaluations.

    Full article: Post-Course Evaluations: What E-Learning Designers Need to Know

    Post-Course Evaluations for E-Learning: 60+ Questions to Include

    If you have developed a post-course evaluation before you know that it can sometimes be a challenge to come up with meaningful questions for your learners. To help you out with that, I’ve put together this comprehensive list of over 60 questions that can be included in a post-course evaluation. Of course it’s important to refer to the previous article, and keep in mind that these evaluations don’t mean the training had a successful impact on the business. You can select the questions that apply to your specific project from this detailed list.

    Full article: Post-Course Evaluations for E-Learning: 60+ Questions to Include

    The Top 3 Types of E-Learning Analysis

    Here is a look at three of the most common types of analysis carried out by e-learning developers and instructional designers. These are the needs analysis, audience analysis, and task analysis. The needs analysis is done up-front to determine is the training is actually necessary or not. An audience analysis is then developed to identify the learners, their demographics and their specific needs.  Finally, a task analysis breaks down the specific tasks that the learners need to apply in order to improve their knowledge and skills on the job. Having a solid grasp on these three types of e-learning analysis will go a long way in ensuring your projects are successful!

    Full article: The Top 3 Types of E-Learning Analysis

    Needs Analysis – When Is E-Learning The Solution?

    Have you ever been asked to complete a training needs analysis to identify if an e-learning or training project is really necessary? If so, you’ll know that doing this can be a tricky endeavour, and it can be hard to differentiate between the training that is wanted and the training that is really needed. If this is a task that you’ve been faced with before, you might be interested in reading about a simple process you can follow to identify if training is really needed. It is a straightforward approach that involves comparing your employees current and expected performance, to identify if there is a performance gap that can be solved with a training solution.

    Full article: Needs Analysis – When Is E-Learning The Solution?

    Infographic: The Presentation, Application, Feedback (PAF) Model

    This colourful infographic illustrates the Presentation, Application, and Feedback (PAF) Model for training and instructional design. It’s important to keep the PAF Model in mind when developing training to ensure we’re not overloading our learners with too much presentation of content. It’s crucial to include lots of opportunities for application of knowledge and to then provide the appropriate feedback.

    Instructional Design Infographic

    Infographic: Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction

    This simple infographic explains Robert Gagné’s 9 Events of Instructions, which is an important instructional design model.

    Gagne Nine Events of Instruction