In the current economic climate with redundancies and budget cuts there is an often a huge and hidden cost that is ignored. Addressing this cost will not only impact on the budget, but provide a platform for significantly improved organisational performance. It will also help learning teams have meaningful discussions about their own budgets and goals, which is no bad thing. To put this in context, in a recent discussion I had with a group of 30 senior learning professionals from different organisations they told me that around 90% of their organisations were not performing as well as they should be. In other words, there is a performance gap between the desired outcomes and the actual outcomes. They told me that their senior executives want the organisation to perform well (no surprise), the learning professionals want the organisation to perform well and they believed that the people in their organisations wanted to do a good job. So what is getting in the way of this? “Had they engaged their organisation in a discussion about the performance gap?” Perhaps not surprisingly, they had talked about learning instead. In another gathering last week, I listened to a discussion where the focus was about learning journeys and “how important it was to think about the learning journey”, and yet again I felt that there was very little consideration given to the performance framework in which this “journey” needed to be framed. A performance gap exists if: or when One of the key roles of HR and Learning is to help senior executives in an organisation define the performance gap(s), understand the cost of the gap and decide what needs to be done to tackle the performance gap(s) that exist. The cost of poor performance is hidden it doesn’t appear in the profit and loss accounts. Can you imagine how it would focus minds if your organisation’s expenditure listed £2m for non-optimised performance! (I’ve focused here on the organisational performance gap, but individuals also have performance gaps where they seek improvement.) The means of addressing the gap will inevitably involve a large number of possible actions and will normally involve leaders and managers taking some specific action and responsibility for fixing the issue. As such only part of the solution will involve the learning team and the development of an appropriate performance landscape to tackle the issue. Closing the performance gap could for instance involve, developing clearer goals, a change to reward policy, better performance feedback, formal training, ongoing informal support and a forum for dialogue, knowledge management…or whatever is appropriate to the situation. (I prefer to think in terms of the creation of a performance landscape rather than learning landscape, but there is a lot of crossover.) Too many conversations seem to be stuck talking about learning, without a clear performance framework, buy-in and understanding from senior executives and performance goals for the organisation.