The Human Performance Improvement Mirror.

Two people join a gym. One has been working out for years and is looking to mix it up a bit and take it to the next level. The other has been sent there by his/her doctor due to health concerns related to being overweight; heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, etc. It’s a great gym with some of the best equipment and trainers and has helped many people reach their goals. The gym says, “We know how to help people improve. We have a tried and true program that takes each client thru these pre-prescribed steps to achieve the best results.” And therein lies the problem. Although both of these people have generally the same goal, improved performance, they are starting in two very different stages. If the gym took the healthier person and said “Let’s start you slow and work your way up. Just walk on this treadmill for 20 minutes for today.” it would be an unproductive waste of time and resources. If they took the unhealthy client and stuck him/her in a cross-fit or high intensity aerobics class, there’s a chance they could do more harm than good.

If you’re going to embark on an improvement process, Human Performance or personal health, it’s important to know where you are so you know which direction to go. For assessing your personal health your first, broad indicator is probably the mirror; outside of a fun-house, the mirror doesn’t lie. For assessing your human performance health, you need a mirror that reflects your culture back to you. This is the first step in the Knowledge Vine FIAT process; Foundation.

The Foundation is identified through a culture survey of your organization. This survey is centered around the key human performance improvement principles: commitment, accountability, and conservative decision-making. It’s a short, 36 question, anonymous, online survey that gives your people the opportunity to reveal their concerns or identify gaps before any new initiatives are started. To help identify any misalignment between the layers of the organization, survey responses are sorted by organizational roles; frontline worker, first-line supervisor, or management.

These survey results, your organizational mirror, are very informative. For example, one of the survey questions is “Supervision understands the challenges the worker faces each day”. Supervisors, who may have been the frontline worker at one time, will strongly agree with this statement. Frontline workers, who may not have seen the supervisor in the field in a while, will strongly disagree with the statement. This has revealed an organizational specific disconnect, or a gap, for the client to address. The human performance remedy may be getting the supervisor more in-field time or simply better communication that challenges are indeed being recognized and addressed; not some pre-prescribed, unrelated actions that the organization will not value.

Again, it’s important to establish your human performance Foundation so you aren’t wasting time, energy, or resources in areas where the organization is already strong. Conversely, you can’t overwhelm your team with too much, too soon. Your human performance goals will be generally the same, reducing the frequency and severity of accidents and errors, but the initial steps will be determined by immediate needs; not a “one size fits all” program.  The best plan for success is to establish the organization’s safety culture, the Foundation, so you can thoughtfully plot your course of action.