What is Human Performance Technology?

Masters of the Educational Universe Podcast Episode

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. 

Organizational Analysis

  1. What is the vision of this organization?
  2. What is the mission of this organization?
  3. What are the values of the organization?
  4. What are the goals of the organization?
  5. What strategies for process improvement have been tried in the past? What happened?
  6. What are the most basic or critical issues that this area or organization is facing? Why are you there trying to solve this?

Environmental Analysis

  1. World
    1. What is the culture of the area that you are working? Examples: competitive, secretive, or collaborative.
    2. What is the society of the organization like?
      1. What are the cultural values of the individual areas that we are analyzing?
      2. What are the goals of the areas that you will be working with?
      3. What is valued in the area that you are evaluating?
    3. What is the social responsibility like?
      1. Is there a clear chain of command?
      2. Who is responsible for what processes?
      3. What are the repercussions for not meeting responsibilities?
  2. Workplace
    1. What are the tools that are available to complete the organizations or areas objectives?
    2. Who are the stakeholders? Who cares about this?
    3. Who is the competition?
      1. What is the market?
      2. Who else is in the market?
      3. Where does this company rank in the market?
  3. Work
    1. How does the process get completed from start to finish?
    2. Is there a set of procedures or a work flow process in place now?
    3. Who is responsible for each step of the process or procedure?
    4. (Ergonomics) Who is performing the work and what has the work that has been completed look like?
  4. Worker
    1. What does the worker know about their position and responsibilities?
    2. What skills does the worker have?
    3. (Capacity) What understanding of the process or work flow does this individual have? Do they understand?
    4. What is the motivation to complete the work?
    5. What are the expectations about work completion?

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.

HPT Continued. Cause Analysis to Evaluation