One of the most frequent topics that comes up with newly minted performance consultants (or those in the midst of ASTD’s HPI certificate series or those trying to get a better feel for what HPI is about) deals with what resources I’d recommend to those just starting out. There is a wealth of material out there that is useful to performance consultants (and much of it isn’t what people would consider to be in the HPI/HPT arena). I’ll take a look at some other resources (like websites) in another entry. For now, let’s start with just books. So that means focusing on practical books (less emphasis on the theory, more emphasis on the “how to” or an explanation of how performance consulting is different from what most people do now).
Here are my recommendations:
- Zap the Gaps, by Dana and Jim Robinson and Ken Blanchard is a simple intro to the critical concepts of performance analysis. It’s a quick read (much like the other Blanchard parable-based books) that is superb to give to clients (especially executives) to explain what HPI is all about. This is a very fast way to explain to someone without a lot of theory what performance consulting is all about.
- Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space in the Organization Chart, by Geary Rummler and Alan Brache. This is one of the most important books in the performance field and it was the first one to really make the point that until you analyze things from a systems perspective, you can’t really understand the problem.
- Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance, by Thomas Gilbert. An oldie but goodie–this is probably the best book around at explaining the issue of accomplishments versus behavior.
- HPI Essentials, edited by George Piskurich. A very good intro to performance with chapters by a dozen notable performance contributors.
- Performance Basics, by Joe Willmore. An intro to performance and designed to be a follow-up to the ASTD HPI workshop series, this is low on theory and high on practical detail.
- Transitioning from Training to Performance, by Jim Fuller and Jeanne Farrington. A slim read but maybe the best book out there on the practical issues of transitioning your role, practice, or office to a performance focus.
- Performance Consulting, by Dana and Jim Robinson. Probably the book that introduced more people to this profession, it’s a solid introduction to a wide range of performance topics. The most recent edition just came out in 2008.
- The Performance Consultant’s Fieldbook, by Judy Hale. Think of this as two books, the first half focuses on what’s involved with becoming a performance consultant, the second half provides a series of tools and job aids (on everything from evaluation to client commitment).
Obviously there are a lot more performance-related books out there.