Traditionally, many Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have taken a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing organisational compliance and performance problems: Professional Development Training (PD). The problem with indiscriminately applying this approach is that training is the right answer only when the problem is caused by a lack of knowledge or skills. As trainers and educators must understand that training does not solve problems associated with any of the following:
- Inadequate information provided to trainers
- Lack of motivation
- Hiring the wrong person for the job (usually not enough relevant workplace experience)
- Old, outdated tools and resources
- Incentive issues (no attractive payment incentive for critical tasks such as: training design, and evaluation including validations)
- Lack of resources
- Unclear standards (no internal communication about VET standards and regulations)
- Confusing feedback
- Poor work environment
- Management issues
- Poor processes
Research indicates that more than 80% of performance problems are not caused by lack of skills or knowledge: therefore, training does not solve the majority of these problems. One objective, systematic way to fix an organisation’s problem is to look the PD from a different perspective: the Human Performance Improvement (HPI).
The concept of HPI, performance consulting, or the performance approach-is not new. Individuals such as Thomas Gilbert, Joe Harless, Robert Mager, and Geary Rummler conducted much of the work that is the basis for the current focus of HPI in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The purpose of HPI is to improve organisational results by improving and organisational performance. Using a systematic approach, HPI aims to
- Identify the goals of the organization
- Define the gap between desired performance and actual performance
- Identify the causes of the performance gap
- Select appropriate solutions that will address those causes
- Implement the interventions
- Evaluate the results
As performance consultants, at Insources we don’t jump to conclusions or act prematurely. On the contrary, we use a systematic, step-by-step approach that identifies desired RTO performance, the performance gap, and the root of the gap.
A systematic approach involves looking at a range of possible causes, withholding immediate judgment, and minimizing bias so that all of the relevant factors that may be contributing to the performance problem are considered. For instance, just because the employees could improve their skills and knowledge does not mean that is the primary cause of the performance issue and that training is the most effective way to address it. This type of approach takes several factors into account (not just knowledge and skill improvement), and it does not assume that what the client asks for (typically training) is automatically the appropriate answer.
Difference Between HPI and Training
According to Stolovitch and Keeps (2004), training is a set of “structured activities focused on getting people to consistently reproduced behaviors without variations, but with increasingly greater efficiency (automatically) even if conditions around them change.” Training aims to improve individual’s knowledge or skills, whereas HPI aims to improve individual organizational performance in relation to organizational goals. Although training must be tied to business results to be effective, the trainer’s focus is on learning activities and producing training that addresses the learning needs of people.
HPI focuses more on accomplishments than behaviors. Accomplishments are the measurable outcomes of activities, whereas behaviors activities. The difference can be explained by comparing the grammatical differences. Accomplishments are nouns, such as a completed report, the safe arrival of passengers at their destinations, and a signed order for a product. Behaviors are verbs, such as typing a report, reading an instrument panel correctly, and explaining the features and benefits of a product. WLP professionals focus on accomplishments because they are what really matter in terms of organizational results, they are easier to measure than behaviors, and they enable objective measurement of any job.
In addition, HPI casts a wider net, recognizing that the performance of an individual or group of individuals may not be the source of an organization’s ability to achieve its performance goals. In fact, the skills and knowledge of individuals are rarely the caused of performance issues. Far more frequently, processes and organizational structures stand in the way of organizational performance.
The outcomes of training are improved skills and knowledge of individuals that are tied to business results, whereas the outcome of HPI ( as PD should be) is the attainment of organisational goals or results.
Factors That Affect Human Performance
Most human performance models identify knowledge, skills, desire, environment, and opportunity (with some variation in the precise terminology) as key factors that affect human performance.
- Knowledge relates to the cognitive abilities a performer needs to carry out the job and involves the development of intellectual skills. Examples of knowledge include understanding the principles of engineering or accounting, knowing how to organize plants in a garden, or knowing the steps to complete a process at work. The effects of lack of knowledge on individual performance are inability to identify essentials behaviors necessary for effective job performance; use of incorrect or inefficient actions on the job; and lack of familiarity with systems, processes, and tools.
- Skills, which are closely related to knowledge, refer to physical movement, coordination, or the use of motor activity to accomplish a task. An example of a skill is the ability to operate a piece of equipment, which is called a psychomotor skill. Another type of skill set is interpersonal skills, such as the ability to negotiate, to run a meeting, or to provide a feedback to an employee. The effects of a lack of skills are similar to those of a lack of knowledge. Training can improve both knowledge and skills and can thus solve performance issues that are based on the performers inability to do a job correctly.
- Desire is a factor that training cannot improve. The performer may be perfectly capable of carrying out the task, but simply is not motivated to do so. The lack of desire or motivation does not imply that the performer is lazy. Lack of feedback; competing priorities; conflicts between personal values and job requirements; rewards for incorrect behavior; punishments for appropriate behavior; lack of appreciation for accomplishments; and lack of adequate compensation, benefits, and other monetary incentives can all cause a lack of motivation. Motivation issues can originate at individual, organizational, and process levels.
- Environment refers to lack of resources, such as training resources, equipment, hardware and software, and inappropriate physical conditions.
- Opportunity relates to whether the performer is actually able o allowed to do the job. If the organisation does not see the need to change/update its operational arrangements he or she will never apply the new skills on-the-job. For example, an RTO send the trainers to learn about new procedures to assess LLN skills of training and students, but if the RTO don’t change practices allowing those new procedures to be implemented the new skills will have no impact on the RTO operations.