Human performance improvement

Human performance improvement is the systematic process of discovering and analyzing important human performance gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluating the financial and non-financial results.
HPI focuses on efforts and results of people at work, school or any other institutions. HPI specialists work with the staff of the organization to identify the root performance cause and try to identify solutions that will best close the gap in performance. Human Performance Improvement includes three simple theories – vision, concept and desired end.

All business processes and systems are human performance systems” – Don Tosti

Several challenges are faced by small business people. The major problem being to get results on short time frames and to work with very limited financial resources. By following a proper approach of HPI, the performance consultant can look forward to immediate results and it also ensures that we address only the performance problems that are impacting the survival of the business. Thus, it makes HPI an ideal process for small scale business.

Human Resource development is to help employees develop their personal and organizational skills, knowledge and abilities. It includes opportunities as employee training, coaching, key employee identification and organization development. The goal for HRD is to develop the most superior workforce so that the organization and individual employees can achieve their work goals in service to customers.

Dr. Gilbert in his model shows leaders how to systematically identify barriers to performance. However, the most expensive solutions such as training are the very last that should be tackled. Training is only useful if the employee lacks knowledge or skill – not if the leader is lazy. Managers are responsible for making certain that employees have the information that they need, the tools required to do the job, proper incentive to do the right thing the right way at the right time, and the access to solutions that will help the employee succeed (discipline, aids, and training).

Points to ponder for performance by the organizations:

Leaders need to know that success in the competency-based organization depends on getting the right support to the right people, at the right time, in the right format. There’s a variety of reasons that make a transition to a performance perspective easier or more challenging and they vary with each organization. They would be

o        Organization is metric driven – An organization that do measurement has some advantages in HPI. They might be seeing good value in measurement.

o        Everyone’s focus is not very strategic – Most organizations, people see their piece of the business. They get focused on activity, not results which are certainly are the big picture. The organization that is clear on the end result has easier transition to HPI.

o        Accomplishments are focused – Organizations focus on traits, competencies and activities. The more of those are focus the harder it gets to move to more of performance improvement mindset.

o        Educate –  Keep informed of pertinent knowledge and competence in the workplace learning and performance field. This would develop human potential. Higher authority of the organizations should provide many training sessions for managers and supervisors and make them understand about performance improvement for the benefit of the organizations. Training should be provided in HPI methodology and equip the employees with the tools to identify. Analyze and improve the critical issues in the organization. Bring SME’s to coach the employers for the better results of the projects.

o        Empower – Make all the employees understand the performance improvement principles under which the organization plans to operate. Incentives and rewarding is the key for getting good performers in future.


ASTD Models for Human Performance Improvement, Second Edition William J. Rothwell, ed. defined.pdf


5 tips to motivate adult learners

These are a few suggestions that can be helpful to motivate adult learners-

    1. The syllabus/curriculum has to match with their requirement.
    2. Let them come up with their own experiences related to the appropriate teaching.
    3. Show how their learning can be put in immediate usage.
    4. Let them take control; allow them to choose their own assignment by giving them a few choices. (E.g. Dr. MacDonald is going to drop the lowest scored assignment)
    5. Instructor can discuss the requirements of the learners (adult) and prepare their class around it. (E.g. I had once enrolled in a professional course. The instructor used to give 4-5 topics to us to be discussed in the next class and asked us to select any of them and mail her at the end of the current week. She would discuss that particular topic which is in more demand among the learners.)

    Overall, make the learners get involved throughout the teaching. Adult learners need to feel they are important.

    Motivation to Learn

    Three categories of adult motivation, curriculum design and classroom practice are discussed in “Thirty things we know for sure about the adult learning” article by Zemke.

    Under the category ‘Motivation to learn’, point no. 5 says – “Adults, who are motivated to seek out a learning experience do so primarily because they have a use for the knowledge or skill being sought. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself.”

    When designing course materials it is important to consider the different needs/motivations of the learner. It is easy to design for those who have high needs for achievement. They are intrinsically motivated and so they will do whatever is essential to accomplish the goal or task at hand. However, if we see the other side of the coin, it might be equally difficult to design for these learners since it is essential to create a task that is not too easy as they will not be challenged enough or not too difficult as it may discourage them and lead them to failure. Also, one must keep in mind that not all learners have high needs for achievement, so reaching out to different levels will always remain an issue.

    As an instructional designer/teacher how should we conquer this issue? and how do we design course materials for children keeping the same issue in mind?


    © Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

    Why Curriculum differes for Adult learners and Young learners?

    Assume that you were asked to design two curricula, one for adult and one for children.  What are the essential areas you will include in these curricula? What are the basic changes that you will take into account due to creating designs for different age- groups? Do elements of the two curricula will be totally different from each other in terms of the content, goals, and expectations?

    This was a question asked by my classmate in ‘Psychology for adult learner’ class,  and here is my answer-

    The content, goals and expectations will certainly differ in designing curriculum for both the audiences.

    As an adult educator myself, I understand that in order to effectively facilitate adult learning, it is essential to get familiar with characteristics of the adult learners for whom you are designing the curricula. We all know that there are a plethora of theories on teaching adults over children. However, here are few things to consider;

    Content – Adult learners are busy with other things in their life, which means they have less time to spend on a whole lot of books just to get to know a small theory. The point here is, it should be easier to find what and when the learner needs in ‘bite size chunks’. It is always a good idea to develop objective based instruction. Introducing different format of delivery content may also be a good idea. These things are not at all possible for children curriculum.

    Goals – Adult learning has to be applicable to their profession, goals, life-span and personal progress. The curriculum has to match with their needs and convey solutions that are practical. Again time and busy schedule play a big role here. An instructor can keep this in mind and present clear objectives to the learners and can ask them to design their own curriculum. Lately, many universities are providing options to the learners to tailor a degree program according to their needs. This can be achieved by adult learners because they are self-directed but children are always dependent on the instructor.

    For children designing needs based curriculum is impossible as they have to gain knowledge of the overall subject, whether they like it or not. Children do not have any goals they study because ‘they have to’.

    Expectations – While gaining knowledge Adults bring huge life experiences with them gathered from their workplace, education, etc. It is important to ask them to relate the given topic with their life experiences. The key point is to encourage them participate and share their knowledge. Adult learners expect to progress through every step of their learning period. Children are not much concerned with the progress in the initial stages.


    © Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.