Training and performance improvement (T&PI) is a specialty area, usually housed within an organization’s human resource development department, dedicated to accelerating skill development and advancing overall employee productivity.

  The work focus of T&PI personnel is understanding organizational goals, creating and implementing interventions needed for systemic change, including training programs, and evaluating successes and continuing challenges.

Keith Johansen, PhD, faculty member in Capella University’s School of Education, details the importance of training and performance improvement and career options in this specialty.

Q. What is training and performance improvement?

A.In simple terms, training and performance improvement is a process that practitioners follow to help individuals and organizational systems change in ways that enable them to better achieve stated goals. 

To facilitate improvements in employee performance, the practitioner needs to have a strong knowledge and skill base in the following critical areas: understanding systems, research, critical thinking, presentation, and interpersonal communication.  The competent practitioner will then be able to accurately diagnose existing performance problems and implement effective solutions.

For example, to improve employee retention, a training class may not solve the problem. A needs analysis of the current environment might show a deficiency in the organizational system, which might require improved pay and benefits and re-organizing the department. In summary, to make an effective change, the competent practitioner of training and performance improvement would need to first accurately diagnose the root cause of the presenting problem, and then design appropriate interventions that address the needs of both people and the systems in which they work.

Q. Why is this discipline important for organizations?

A. It’s important because it addresses individual, group, and organizational problems in a systematic way. By understanding how systems function and change over time, a training and performance improvement practitioner will be able to correctly diagnose complex performance problems and then design appropriate interventions that may or may not include training.

Q. What specific skills are needed to work in this field?

A. Skills needed for success include the following:

  • Research skills to understand what methods need to be implemented for improved employee performance.
  • Presentation and coaching skills to successfully train employees about these methods.
  • Critical thinking and analysis to develop new approaches to solve problems and implement new policies.
  • Writing skills to craft proposals, presentations and training documents.
  • Interpersonal communication skills to work effectively with both employers and employees.

Q. What can you do with a degree in training and performance improvement?

A. A master’s in training and performance improvement prepares graduates to assist organizations in effectiveness, improvement, and development. The skills acquired in this degree program are applicable in numerous settings including for-profit and non-profit corporations, health care institutions, and colleges or universities.

Related job titles to explore include*:

  • Training manager
  • Development manager
  • Learning manager
  • Training and development coordinator
  • Training director
  • Manager of staff training and development

Interested in a career focused on assisting companies in managing organizational change and improving employee performance? Consider Capella’s online MS in Education, Training and Performance Improvement program.

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.