Instructional Technology/HPT in the Workplace
What is Human Performance Technology?
Human Performance Technology as described as:
- an analysis of present and desired levels of job performance, that identifies the causes for the performance gap
- a multidisciplined approach to the development of interventions that improve performance
- guides the change management process and evaluates the results (source: www.ispi.org)
Human performance technology takes a systematic approach to improving job performance in the workplace, such as conducting a needs assessment, cause analysis, design of recommendations or solutions, implementation of resolution and evaluation and results of the new interventions implemented to improve performance. To achieve effective multifacted interventions, needs assessments are critical to improving performance in the workplace. Most organizations do not find that the time spent to implement a needs assessment is worthwhile, because it can be quite time consuming depending on the type of changes required to improve performance within the organization and among its employees.
[According to Robert Rouda and Mitchell Kusy, Jr (1995), states that a needs assessment identifies the current state and conditions of performance and in what specific manner the performance should be performed. "There are four steps to completing a needs assessment: perform a gap analysis, identifying priorities and importance, identify causes of performance problems and/or opportunities, and identifying possible solutions and growth."]
[A "gap analysis" examines and compares the current work situation and conditions to the desired work situation and conditions. Questions to consider:]
- Problems or deficits. Are there problems in the organization which might be solved by training or other HRD activities?
- Impending change. Are there problems which do not currently exist but are foreseen due to changes, such as new processes and equipment, outside competition, and/or changes in staffing?
- Opportunities. Could we gain a competitive edge by taking advantage of new technologies, training programs, consultants or suppliers?
- Strengths. How can we take advantage of our organizational strengths, as opposed to reacting to our weaknesses? Are there opportunities to apply HRD to these areas?
- New directions. Could we take a proactive approach, applying HRD to move our organizations to new levels of performance? For example, could team building and related activities help improve our productivity?
- Mandated training. Are there internal or external forces dictating that training and/or organization development will take place? Are there policies or management decisions which might dictate the implementation of some program? Are there governmental mandates to which we must comply? (Robert Rouda and Mitchell Kusy, Jr, (1995))
The answers to these questions will help us to find the current performance gaps, if any, and aid in creating a process to move toward the desired performance, while providing support or rationale for a business case to implement change within the workplace, whether its on an individual level (job change) or organizational level (corporate policies and procedures). To address results found in our needs assessments, we should consider the various interventions that can be used to address the causes for the gap in performances, such as training, organizational changes and its goal, possible changes staff changes.
Identifying priorities and importance
Robert Rouda and Mitchell Kusy, Jr. (1995)states that we must "determine if the identified needs are real, if they are worth addressing, and specify their importance and urgency in view of our organizational needs and requirements. Some questions to consider:
- Cost-effectiveness: How does the cost of the problem compare to the cost of implementing a solution? In other words, we perform a cost-benefit analysis.
- Legal mandates: Are there laws requiring a solution? (For example, safety or regulatory compliance.)
- Executive pressure: Does top management expect a solution?
- Population: Are many people or key people involved?
- Customers: What influence is generated by customer specifications and expectations?
If some of our needs are of relatively low importance, we would do better to devote our energies to addressing other human performance problems with greater impact and greater value."
Identify causes of performance problems and/or opportunities
Rouda and Kusy (1995) states that "we must know what our performance requirements are, if appropriate solutions are to be applied. Consider the following two questions for every identified need:
- Are our people doing their jobs effectively?
- Do they know how to do their jobs?
This will require detailed investigation and analysis of employees, their jobs, and our organizations -- both for the current situation and in preparation for the future.
Identify possible solutions and growth opportunities
Training and/or other interventions might be called for if sufficient importance is attached to moving our people and their performance into new directions. But if our people ARE NOT doing their jobs effectively:
- Training may be the solution, IF there is a knowledge problem.
- Organization development activities may provide solutions when the problem is not based on a lack of knowledge and is primarily associated with systematic change. These interventions might include strategic planning, organization restructuring, performance management and/or effective team building. (Rouda and Kusy (1995))
We must understand that performance improvement “is not an isolated activity, but has three interrelated goals:]]
- (1) learning and;
- (2) applying the learning on the job (training transfer)
- (3) the organization meets its objectives”. (Schouborg, 2001, pp.203-218)
For these three goals to be achieved, Caravagalia (1993) states that to ensure the transfer of training (performance improvement), it must include:
- (a) use realistic examples of how the skill might be used;
- (b) give learners meaningful contexts for the application of concepts rather than presenting theory without application;
- (c) include the opportunity to practice the skills in the design of the learning event;
- (d) present new concepts in several different ways; transfer of training is more likely to occur when concepts appear in several different training contexts;
- (e) use clear and effective visual aids;
- (f) consider the use of pre-training assignments;
- (g) keep concepts and skills as close as possible to the work generally done by participants in their everyday jobs;
- (h) building in post-training follow-up with participants;
- (i) encourage the organization(s) to develop supportive environments for the continued learning in the workplace after training has taken place. (Caravaglia, 1993, Ensure Transfer of Training, pp.63-68)
Hence, understanding how adults learn is critical to guaranteeing that the desired skills are transferred and performance will improve. Skills transfer, or the transfer of training, is truly a systematic process that requires the involvement of not only the training area, the employee but the entire organization. It is critical that the selected intervention used to improve performance directly links to the organization’s goals or initiatives, because the success of any given organization heavily relies on the performance of its employees. As IT professionals, when presented with a HPT project we must stress the importance of a needs assessment, because the answer may not be as straightforward as training.
- Garavaglia, Paul L., “How to Ensure Transfer of Training.”, Training and Development October 1993, pp. 63-68.
- Roscoe, Stanley, Aviation Psychology, Ames: Iowa University Press. 1980.
- Rouda, Robert & Kusy, Mitchell,(1995), Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry
- Schouborg, Gary (2001), “How to Increase Training Effectiveness by Systems Thinking”, In The 2001 Annual: Volume 1 Training. Editor, Elaine Biech. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2001, pp. 203-218..