How Does the HPT Professional
Engineer Effective Performance

Harold D. Stolovitch
Erica J. Keeps

The goal of Human Performance Technology (HPT) is to achieve maximum desired results from people in ways they and their organizations value. This is both a formidable challenge and exciting opportunity given the complexity of organizations and the high stakes that the globalized, competitive marketplace creates. In this brief article, we offer three frameworks for helping HPT professionals attain successful performance results.

A Human Performance
System Model

To reach the goal requires that HPT professionals view organizations systemically. The model in Figure 1 provides a useful framework for doing this.

In this model, the external environment with its opportunities, pressures, events and resources stimulates an organization to generate goals and objectives. These trigger internal requirements, including human performance ones, to meet the goals. They, in turn, generate behaviors that result in accomplishments. These are strongly influenced by external factors and the internal organizational environment (composed of many elements). Accomplishments may or may not suffice. If judged as unacceptable, they must be modified along with behaviors. How does one effect desired behavior and accomplishment changes? Figure 2 offers an operational-procedural model for achieving this.

An Engineering Effective
Performance Model

The first step toward obtaining desired results is to define business requirements unambiguously. HPT professionals do this by proactively probing for opportunities to improve business performance and anticipating requirements sometimes even before management has fully articulated these. More commonly, requirements come seeking them and they respond reactively, but systematically.

Both cases permit derivation of specific desired human performance requirements, step two, either legal/regulatory, new system or performance improvement/change.

The third step requires precise definition of current performance (exemplary, deficient, related). Information derived in steps two and three form the database for step four, characterizing the performance gap in terms of magnitude, value and/or urgency. The fifth step demands considerable investigative ability as well as tools and techniques for identifying all factors that affect the performance gap directly as causes or indirectly as constraints

This provides the basis for step six, identifying potential interventions, and step seven, selection of an optimal intervention set based on appropriateness, economics, feasibility and organizational /performer acceptability. The last three steps result in development, implementation, monitoring and maintenance of selected performance interventions set based on appropriateness, economics, feasibility and organizational /performer acceptability. The last three steps result in development, implementation, monitoring and maintenance of selected performance interventions.

Skill Sets for the Human
Performance Technologist

The professional work of HPT practitioners demands that they possess many skills. These can be broken down into

  • Basic technical skills: analysis, observation, evaluation.
  • People skills: management (organization and project management), communication, interpersonal.

Key skills essential for HPT specialists are:

  • Maintaining a consistent and unwavering focus on the business requirement.
  • Identifying root causes of inadequate performance and/or what is necessary to achieve desired results.
  • Operating systematically.
  • Working with and appropriately involving others.
  • Conducting credible performance analyses.
  • Verifying observations, findings, conclusions.
  • Sorting out priorities.
  • Designing cost-effective and efficient solutions and measuring these.
  • Utilizing technology appropriately.

The repertoire of the successful HPT professional includes many more skills as well as personal characteristics and values. For a more complete inventory, we refer you to Stolovitch, H.D., Keeps, E.J. and Rodrigue, D. (1995). Skill sets for the human performance technologist. Performance improvement quarterly. 8 (2), 40-67.

To Conclude

This brief article has offered those interested in engineering effective human performance an overview of three frameworks. The first, the conceptual model, presents the major elements and relationships of human performance systems.The second, the procedural model,presents a set of steps to achieve desired performance. The third framework describes basic skill sets HPT professionals require to perform effectively. By adopting a system view of human performance, systematically engineering solutions and continuously developing professional skill sets, HPT professionals increase theprobability of achieving successful performance results.

1998 Harold D. Stolovitch & Erica J. Keeps

figure 1 Figure 1
Figure 2 figure 2

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