The Business and Process of HPT

Just as there are processes for analyzing performance, implementing changes, and evaluating results, there is a process for implementing the practice of HPT in any organization. Robinson and Robinson (1999) suggest a six phase process that includes:

  1. Partnership: The formation and on-going development of relationships with clients
  2. Entry: The initial determination of a performance need that requires attention
  3. Assessment: Correlates to the process of analyzing the specifics of the performance problem
  4. Design: Development and testing of interventions
  5. Implementation: Full-scale roll-out of the interventions
  6. Measurement: Correlates to the evaluation process (p. 715-716)

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So far, we've looked at various models of performance analysis, design and implementation of instructional and non-instructional interventions, and discussed the importance of measurement and evaluation throughout any performance improvement project. But what is required of the performance consultant in establishing and maintaining relationships with clients? What are the standards of quality that can be expected of a performance professional? Beyond low level evaluation of interventions, what is the greater value of HPT?

Relating With Clients

Block (2000) identifies three key goals for any consulting job:

  1. Establish a collaborative relationship with clients to maximize resources, allow for shared responsibility, and promote modeling of collaborative behaviors.
  2. Solve problems in the long term by teaching clients the processes of problem-solving so that they can maintain and manage performance on an on-going basis.
  3. Address both the technical or business problem, as well as the people or process issues, leveraging the objective position of the consultant.

Client-consultant relationships are about learning from each other and navigating through the complex landscape of the organization by working together.

Standards of Quality and Ethics

HPT practitioners are often involved in helping organizations to solve problems involving the quality of the products of work. They may also work to improve compliance with legal or regulatory requirements. As the profession develops further, performance consultants may find themselves focusing even more on values and ethical issues.

Ethics and the Shadow Side of Consulting...
Contrary to popular belief, consulting is the world's oldest profession. The first consultant was the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Admist a scene of unprecedented peace and tranquility, the Serpent, with the encouragement of top management, took it upon himself to assume an advisory role with Eve. When Eve followed his advice and picked the low-hanging fruit, the consequences were grave and long-lasting.
(Block, 2000, p.307)

We might define a code of ethics as a socially accepted set of shared values that describe what is good, right, and just. Pinder (1998) relates that "values (or shared values) are the very essence of...organizational cultures..." (p.73). Thus, an organization's code of ethics is often the basis for the corporate cultures we speak so often of changing. Sometimes that might be appropriate and necessary, especially if the standards are not clearly understood by those working within an organization.

In addition to the ethics of the client organizations, performance consultants must also maintain legal, ethical and professional standards related to their practice of HPT. The ISPI has developed a Code of Ethics and a set of principles to guide practitioners in defining the level of quality of their services.

The idea that there may be a greater purpose to HPT than solving simple process issues is reflected in the Evaluation Plus model for evaluation and is echoed by those who are concerned with the future of the discipline. Perhaps the current best we can do is try to demonstrate and communicate the greater value HPT can bring to an organization and society.

Demonstrating the Value Your Work

Beyond even ROI evaluation of interventions, performance technologists can (and some might argue must) improve their ability to communicate the worth of those changes more comprehensively, identifying and illustrating their long-term impact on financial and human capital assets. Gayeski (2004) summarizes this idea by saying: "...most HPT practitioners aim too low: they are typically focused on fixing individual, narrowly defined performance gaps instead of designing better performance systems that overcome major organizational obstacles to success and that lead to ongoing value" (p. 2).

But who and what determines the success of any performance intervention? The performers, client, and the consultant may have very different views on this topic. The development and communication of a shared vision of success by key stakeholders before, during, and after a project can help ensure that its results are more universally valued. Some questions to ask when determining the success of a project include:

The future of HPT may depend on the ability of today's practitioners to demonstrate the value of their work "more, better, faster, (and) for less" (Lane, Walker, Peters, 1999, p. 730).

 

References

Block, P. (2000). Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Gayeski, D. (2004). IPT 560: Beyond level 4: Tying HPT to valuation of intangible assets, Mod 6 Getting and showing results. Lotus Notes database via Boise State University. Retrieved December 1, 2004.

Lane, M. M., Walker, G., & Peters, M. J. (1999) Survival tactics in human performance technology projects. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 730-758). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Pinder, C. C.  (1998). Work motivation in organizational behavior.  Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Robinson, J. C. & Robinson, D. G. (1999). Performance consultant: The job. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 713-729). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.