Applying Human Performance Improvements in an Industrial Field

Originating from educational and instructional technology, Human Performance Technology or HPT has been effective in streamlining lesson plans for creating more economic workflows in different business sectors.

Human Performance Improvement, or HPI, is a process that is very similar to Human Performance Technology. HPI focuses on providing a systematic process to measure individual improvement in an objective manner, eliminating the need for subjective rubrics when reviewing employee performance.

The goal of Human Performance Improvement is to improve overall company performance through individual accomplishment. Having a standardized approach to human performance measurement minimizes guesswork when it comes to measuring successes and identifying performance gaps, as well as maximizing successful behaviors and offering possible solutions to shortcomings in performance.

By following a results-based approach and using the proper Human Performance Improvement Tools, HPI can balance the wants and needs of the employee, as well as manage the expectations and requirements senior management has for reaching the company's business goals. Analyzing the cause-effect of both performance success and gaps gives Human Performance Improvement an advantage over other Human Resource Development, or HRD, activities.

IDENTIFYING HUMAN PERFORMANCE GAPS

HPI uses a variety of techniques in order to ascertain and assess performance gaps of employees. One of the first steps is to determine the value of an employee’s performance. Value, in this case, is not a subjective term. Rather, HPI defines value in terms of organizational usefulness, with variables like units produced, or reports written, or any measurable and quantifiable factors of a company’s product.

Human Performance Improvement measures value in terms of accomplishments rather than behavior, which makes assessing performance gaps easier and more objective (it is important to understand that the accomplishment of specific goals is driven by behavior). One of the first steps is to determine, with clarity, your company’s business goals and target output.

To properly determine and correct employee performance gaps, companies must first take a long, hard look at its business model, organizational chart, expected output in terms of product, profit, and other variables.

HPI factors in other influences that affect your business: daily workload across different departments, the processes that drive employees to the desired outcome and the final product or service that your company provides. The performance gap is then determined by calculating the difference between the starting performance level of an employee, and the desired level.

Once this is made clear, individual employees can start, with performance gap analysis being executed through a process of discovery and inquiry. This is done by asking some key questions:

  • Where in the development chain is the problem located?

  • What is the actual performance level of the employee?

  • What is the desired performance level of the employee?

  • What performance variable is critical for the employee to improve?

  • What factors are affecting or causing the performance gap?

IMPLEMENTING HUMAN PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS

Applying the right training method in the industrial sector can greatly improve the services your company provides. Implementing HPI across your industrial organization can also ensure that the service you provide maintains professional standards of delivery and safety.

To apply Human Performance Improvement in your company, you need training measures that focus on strengthening core competencies in performance and behavior. Skills training can be executed through a variety of methods, such as classroom sessions, simulations for operations personnel, or even on the job training.

Studies have shown that the most effective way for skills to be learned and implemented by employees is by introducing the lessons from a practical perspective, focusing on how the skills can be used on the job rather than on its theoretical aspects. Technical training instructors must be competent, properly certified, and show a level of expertise in their field, in order to further maximize the learning and retention of knowledge with employees.

Once the performance gap has been identified, and specific training measures are developed, HPI is implemented in order to correct the deficiency.

There are several measures that a company can take to implement a Human Performance Improvement plan:

The Horizontal slice method chooses a particular level in your company and works with the employees on that level, before moving on to other levels in the hierarchy. The benefit of implementing a horizontal slice is that employees on that level have similar needs, despite their difference in department, which allows them to relate to one another.

A downside to the Horizontal Slice is that it is difficult to effect organization-wide change from just one level of the company, particularly if that level ranks low in the chain of command.

The Vertical slice method, on the other hand, chooses one organizational unit or department and works with all employees in that department regardless of rank, or with select employees in that department, before moving on to other business units. This method benefits from the department’s shared organizational responsibilities and culture, which leads to greater teamwork.

By working with all levels of a department, the frustrations of the horizontal slice method are minimized, as organization-wide change is much more feasible if management is involved. However, a drawback of the Vertical slice is that other departments, where the HPI plan has not yet been implemented, may find it difficult to adjust to the new system of the pilot unit.

The Flow down or Cascading method aims to implement HPI from the top down. With the Flow down method, individuals in senior positions like managers and C-suite executives are involved simultaneously. These senior executives then implement the HPI to their immediate subordinates, who will then implement it to theirs, and so on and so forth, until all relevant employees have been involved.

This method is effective because it facilitates the simultaneous implementation of Human Performance Improvement throughout the company. In this way, senior executives demonstrate their commitment to improvement from the top. Cascading the implementation of HPI from the top also provides a way for employees and their managers to work together on implementing changes and closing performance gaps.

The Flow down method, however, will only be effective if the senior executives are able to commit considerable amounts of time and effort into implementing HPI. Managers, as well, must display advanced levels of leadership and commitment to fully communicate to their subordinates the needed steps to close performance gaps and maximize human performance improvements.

Identifying your company’s goals, existing processes, actual employee performance levels, and other variables is the first step in implementing a successful HPI plan. Using a results-based, cause analysis approach is the most efficient way to improving your products and services.

As you identify the factors and variables that affect performance levels, you can then develop the proper training measures that focus on improving core competencies. Then, you will be better able to choose the implementation method that would best fit your company’s context.