…the systematic process of discovering and analyzing important human performance gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluating the financial and non-financial results. (Human performance improvement, para. 1)
O.K., So Why do I Care About HPT / HPI?
Looking closely at this definition, one should notice that “training” is not necessarily the solution for a performance gap. HPT models generally speak of utilizing “interventions” in order to bridge challenges with performance.
These performance challenges may be the result of “organizational/environment causes, motivational/attitude problems, or skills/knowledge deficits” (Piskurich, 2006, p. 27).
Piskurich (2006) goes on to clarify that even though training may not be the main solution for a performance gap, it will usually accompany other interventions.
There is a Performance Gap – Now What?
The International Society for Performance Improvement (n.d.) explains that once a determination has been made that a performance gap does, indeed, exist, HPT calls for a cause analysis to be implemented. A cause analysis will help to uncover why there is an existing performance gap.
Is the culture of the work place contributing to performance short-falls?
Are there some motivational issues contributing to a decline in performance?
Or, is it actually some type of skill/knowledge deficit?
This cause analysis step will help to determine “why” performance is not up to par, and/or why performance may not improve without some kind of intervention.
Sam’s $0.02 – For What it’s Worth
The idea that training is not the answer for every single performance short fall is absolutely aligned with my personal and professional experiences.
Coming from an IT “contractor” background, there have been many times that the overall performance of a specific group may not have been on equal footing with the expectations of management, and/or a particular customer. Often enough, the question always seemed to revolve around training, and/or the skill/knowledge of specific contractors and/or entire sections.
Although there were a few occasions where the prerequisite skill level was the source of a performance gap, more often than not, the performance gap was the result of continuously shifting, and/or unclear management/customer goals/objectives. This constant confusion, and lack of concrete guidance often lead to a decrease in contractor moral which only served to contribute to the already existing performance gap.
The only relief came when management/customers where forced to provide written objectives, requirements, and/or expectations for contractor deliverables. This provided the necessary target for contractors to focus on, and management/customers to truly evaluate performance.
If the new deliverables did not match what management/customers wanted, they were compared to the written taskings. More often than not, the contractors’ performance actually met or exceeded the written guidelines, and the management/customers had to edit and/or add to the written taskings.
This extra “work” for management/customers actually reduced the frequency of shifting goals/objectives. Inevitably, this fostered an increase in contractor moral which led to an increase in performance.
Slowing Down to Speed Up
At first glance, it may seem as if implementing an HPT/HPI model may take up a lot of time and/or resources. However, if carefully analyzed, and implemented properly, an HPT/HPI model may actually save time, resources, and even money in the long run.
As a close friend once told me, “Sometimes we have to slow down in order to speed up.”