Performance Technology Overview

Most organizations understand the value of improving performance of their employees. Today's safety professionals are taking many different approaches within the organization, even though many efforts are conceived and implemented in isolation. Since many of these initiatives are not integrated into the total performance system, the outcomes can be a bit hazy and achievements hard to pin down.

In order to achieve lasting results with true organizational change and transformation, today's safety professionals would be well served to adopt an integrative approach using the science of Human Performance Technology (HPT). HPT would assist in their initiatives across all three levels of the organization: worker, work, and workplace.

Human Performance Technology is not meant to replace safety system components, such as the three E's (engineering, education, and enforcement), basic OSHA compliance strategies or issuing PPE; rather HPT is a powerful process that can help integrate performance improvement initiatives at all three organizational levels, based on the following fundamental principles:

  • Results focused: begin with the end in mind

  • Systemic: take a systems viewpoint

  • Value added: focus on what really matters to the organization

  • Partner: with clients and other performance professionals

HPT provides a systematic process to follow on what can often be a not-so-systematic path. In addition to identifying human performance gaps and possible solutions, this standardized approach offers the ability to measure the success of your efforts and eliminate the guesswork that follows when a performance gap must be evaluated.

HPT is results-based and systematic. Rather than focusing on a ‘wants-based’ or ‘needs-based’ approach, HPT follows a ‘results-based’ approach to improving performance, distinguishing it from many compliance-based activities. The process is driven by a business need and a performance need, justified by the results of a cause analysis.

One of the cornerstones of HPT is the concept of systems thinking. Organizations are complex systems! Taking a holistic view of the entire system is critical if performance improvement is to be achieved. Merely tweaking various parts of the system will yield only marginal or unsustainable results. That is why many safety initiatives fail – they are approached as individual activities, and not on a holistic basis.

The HPT process helps articulate your business goals, links those goals to human performance, diagnoses the current state of performance within the organization, finds root causes of performance deficiencies, implement solutions, and evaluates the results of the interventions. Being business focused means having a clear understanding of what your organization's strategic priorities are and using those priorities to guide your management decisions. The process of analyzing performance begins with an analysis your business, which brings forward the focus on goals for your organization. While you may believe your business goals are clear and understood by everyone, this assumption is often wrong. If your business is typical, most of your employees will have difficulty stating what your business goals are and identifying how work assignments affect those goals.

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