Human Performance Improvement: Keeping an Eye on Results in a World of Wants and Needs

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David Rice
09/16/2020

Human performance improvement

As our annual corporate learning event unfolds, there is naturally a lot of talk about learning and development’s place in the business and the ways in which HR can use it as an instrument to drive performance.

As HR and L&D begin the conversation of how to help people generate better business results, while at the same time upskilling or reskilling to better prepare themselves to for the jobs of the future, the Human Performance Improvement (HPI) process can help both people and their coaches an increased focus on results and business outcomes.

Zillow Group’s Director of Learning and Development, Molly Rupprath, noted how the HPI certification helped L&D personnel within current and previous organizations she’s worked with. Working in collaboration with the Association for Training and Development (ATD) to implement the HPI model, the organization worked to help L&D personnel understand the approach that has to be taken in creating improved business results. Her session, titled “Moving Your Organization from Traditional Training Roles to a Learning Consultant Model” focused on getting more from trainers and L&D teams to improve learning outcomes.

“We had to upskill, so we put our whole team including our HR Business Partner through ATD’s HPI and that was a game changer,” Rupprath said. “For a learning consultant model to work is to understand the approach that needs to be taken outside of the traditional training approaches. The HPI really helps the team to understand a results based approach rather than responding to wants and needs.”

While Rupprath’s organization used the HPI teachings offered by ATD, the philosophy is not specific to any one training organization. It’s actually outlined by the Department of Energy website in the following way:

“Human performance improvement (HPI) as addressed in this handbook is not a program per se, such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and the like. Rather, it is a set of concepts and principles associated with a performance model that illustrates the organizational context of human performance. The model contends that human performance is a system that comprises a network of elements that work together to produce repeatable outcomes. The system encompasses organizational factors, job-site conditions, individual behavior, and results.”

Keeping the Business in Focus 

The primary focus of HPI is to link human performance with business goals and provide a way for you to diagnose performance problems and skills gaps and needs the company needs to address. Oftentimes, poor management decisions are an effect of not having clear strategic priorities. By identifying these priorities and aligning skills and duties with business goals, it becomes easier for employees to align with the goals of the business and understand how their skills can help the company drive toward them.

Essentially HPI works backwards through your organization, starting at business goals and where gaps have occurred and working back through departments, teams, and individuals to help identify the work that needs to be done and the skills that need to be developed in order for the organization to get there.

“Even just pulling in some of the concepts of HPI, things like wants and needs versus results, aligning on the same language, organizations are systems and following the process of evaluation to implementation, there are tons of resources out there. You can probably do it on the cheap if you needed to,” Rupprath said.

A House in Order

The idea of HPI can actually be combined with Akebono Brake Corporation CHRO Eric Torigian’s Time Gap Analysis presented in the first session of the day. Essentially, activities undertaken in the workplace fall into one of four quadrants on the graph below.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Torigian

The four quadrants are:

  • Hobbies - Things you enjoy doing that other people don’t place much monetary value on
  • Time wasters - Things you don’t enjoy that others don’t value
  • Dues - Things you don’t enjoy that others do value
  • Sweet spot- Things you enjoy that others value

In identifying gaps and driving human performance to meet the needs of the business, L&D and HR should be pushing people towards the sweet spot in order to guarantee results, but for it to be most effective, it actually looks like the image below, tying in aspects of the dues and hobbies to ensure value to the business and buy in from the person.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Torigian

“The challenge for us as HR leaders is how do we take talent acquisition and fuse it with marketing?” Torigian said. “The generation we’re trying to turn into leaders today went through the crash of 2008 at a young age, but what did they learn? They learned that you’ve got to have your own house in order, your own parachute and your own work and it changed the face of the workforce. We’re seeing workers who are finding ways to monetize things they are passionate about, so how do we create an exciting workplace where we can get this spirit into the workforce and allow people to bring their hobbies in and work in their sweet spots?”

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