I once heard of an organization that completed data entry for health insurance claims that had a sudden increase in the wrong data being entered into the system. The organization, which was dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction, was eager to correct the problem and decided that additional training was needed to increase employee performance. However, they were lucky to have hired a company who did a complete overview of the organization before the construction of new training materials took place. From observation of employees and looking at environmental factors such as the computers, chairs, desks etc. the task force was able to determine that training was not needed. The company had recently moved into a new building and the majority of errors were being entered between two pm and four pm every day. It was determined from observing employees, that those with computers that received a majority of sunlight during these hours were making the most mistakes because they couldn’t see their screens as well. The company needed blinds for the windows not training. This is a perfect example of Human Performance Technology or HPT.
HPT is used to analyze both the ideal work environment and productivity to the actual work environment and productivity.
HPT stands for
Human: the employees and working divisions of organizations
Performance: activities and measurable outcomes (how many widgets are being produced)
Technology: a systematic (the entire organization as a whole) and systemic (those parts of the organization that work to create a whole) approach to solve practical problems
This article gives helpful hints about how to identify the gap in the performance or how to identify that you need blinds as in the story above. To start a gap analysis you will need to look at two things. The first is at the organizational level or what is the organization trying to accomplish. In our story above, the organization wanted high quality data entry and for customers to be happy. The second thing you will need to know is what the organization is really like or as in our story above they knew that they had higher data entry errors. These sections are known as the organizational analysis and environmental analysis in the HPT Model. For someone who is just learning HPT, it is easiest to take these sections and ask questions or gather data to help determine where we are starting from and where we need to go for improvement. The following are a set of questions that you may want to ask in order to proceed in the process.
After you have gathered the above information you can then create the following two pictures about the organization: a desired performance based on the organizational analysis and an actual performance based on the environmental analysis. Then you can compare these two pictures side by side to evaluate the gap in desired performance and what areas will need your attention to close this gap.