What is Performance Improvement?

Workforce performance takes on new significance in our economic future. Performance Improvement (PI), initially called Human Performance Technology (HPT), is the systematic approach to improving productivity and competence – the key to global competitiveness. Although training and education are critical to increasing competitiveness, meeting the educational challenge is only part of the answer. An effective human resource system requires a focus on performance aligned with an outstanding learning system. To improve performance, we must manage the human performance improvement system. That system must be the core of an organization's human resource efforts if it is to maintain its competitiveness in the long run.

Performance Improvement touches many aspects of an organization--aligning strategy, defining leadership, building talent, creating culture, and influencing markets. Over the years, great organizations have realized the value of human performance improvement. 

Efficient machinery operation, quality control, nor information access alone make an organization outstanding -- it is people, with their skills, knowledge, motivation, values, and dreams who make organizations thrive and prosper. 

PI, the foundation of our profession, systematically links organizational and business goals and strategies with the workforce responsible for achieving those goals. 

How Does it Work?

Performance Improvement is a set of methods and procedures.  It incorporates a strategy for solving problems, for realizing opportunities related to the performance of people.  It can be applied to individuals, small groups, and large organizations.  It is, in reality, a systematic combination of three fundamental processes:

  • Performance Analysis
  • Cause Analysis
  • Solution Selection

Performance Analysis

Performance analysis examines the organization’s performance requirements in light of its objectives and its capabilities.  Central to the analysis process is the comparison of two specific descriptions of the workforce – the desired state and the actual state.  The difference between these two states is the performance gap. 

Cause Analysis

Cause analysis identifies specific factors that contribute to the performance gap.  Solutions to performance problems often fail to achieve their intended goals, because the solutions are selected to treat only visible symptoms rather than underlying causes.

Solution Selection

Solution selection involves a systematic, comprehensive, and integrated response to performance problems and their causes, as well as to performance improvement opportunities. Comprehensive solutions often result in significant changes throughout the organization.  Finally, evaluation of those changes provides new data for the ongoing performance iterative process in which each successful application results in positive changes to the competence and abilities of the workforce.  As an organization addresses new challenges, the performance technology process is the key to ensuring that the workforce is ready to meet them head on.


More information can be found on the ISPI site or the Wikipedia page  

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