In the June 2000 T+D article titled "HPI Soup," Ethan S. Sanders and Julie L. Ruggles explored the history and evolution of human performance improvement. The article included views of noted theorists and contributors to the field, such as Thomas Gilbert, Joe Harness, Geary Rummler, and Robert Mager.
Their soup metaphor was quite appropriate given all the category descriptions, theoretical contributions, published works, and associations among HPI contributors. The soup mix and combination of ingredients is different for every organization. Start with a dash of behaviorism and a cup of diagnostic and analytical systems. Add a scoop of organizational learning and instructional systems design, and don't forget the organizational change management, systems theory, evaluation, and management sciences. A lot of time is spent deciding what should go into the soup, and not enough time is spent on asking whether the people want it or will eat it.
As organizations continue to explore ways to improve human performance, the old proverb, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," seems to apply. While the human performance chefs are looking for new ingredients, the basic recipe for HPI is still the same: Determine the gap between actual and desired performance, find the root cause, recommend a targeted solution, and evaluate the results.
Economic, sociologic, global, regulatory, environmental, and technological influences - as well as changing skills requirements - creates additional pressure for people to perform with fewer resources, plus added worries about job security. In a 2009 survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, it was not surprising that the number of disengaged employees increased by 45 percent. And rather than leaving, they are staying because of limited or nonexistent options elsewhere. Engagement and performance are inevitably linked.
During my 25-year career with Southwest Airlines, people often asked, "Is it the culture that makes happy engaged people, or do happy, engaged people make the culture?" The answer is, both. Organizational performance reflects job satisfaction as much as job satisfaction determines organizational performance.
more focus was on the human part of HPI, not on allowing the science of HPI to override the basic human factors?
there was a genuine concern about how people feel in addition to how they perform?
renewal or decompression time was allowed during the workday?
people were challenged to link their job roles to the major organizational goals?
organizations invested in professional development and provided more opportunities for people to work in roles best suited to their strengths, passion, and energy?
Leaders often want to resolve performance issues by adding more controls, processes, and procedures to direct behaviors. By helping people understand the impact they have on the organization's success, by valuing their contributions, and by involving them in determining solutions, they will most likely perform because they want to, not because they have to. Identify your key talent, and determine how to best help them deliver on their highest potential. Take what's working, and do more of it!