Non-Instructional Interventions

Learn more about a selection of non-instructional interventions:

We have established that knowledge-skill deficits may be best improved with well-designed instructional interventions.  But how do we “fix” data, instrumentation, and incentives (Gilbert, 1978)? What can we do to influence inputs, conditions, processes, and outputs (Langdon, 1999)? And what about the human factors like physical capacity and individual motivation? How can we support workers by decreasing the barriers to desired performance?

Gayeski (2004a, 2004b) suggests two sub-divisions for non-instructional interventions: 1) organizational and job structure interventions and 2) communication and documentation interventions.

Organizational & Job Structure Interventions

Job Analysis and Workplace Design: According to Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger (2000), job analysis is the “cornerstone of human resource development” (p. 79) and the first step of designing work to have the most impact on organizational goals and “quality of work life for employees” (p. 82). Defining job descriptions (the roles and responsibilities of the job) and job specifications (the qualifications for the job), can be interventions in themselves or may be used to develop plans for more flexible, alternative job assignments through job rotation or enlargement (Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger, 2000).

After jobs are clearly defined, the work done within those jobs can be designed. Work design determines the “how, who, and where” of a job (Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger, 2000). More specific areas of focus may include:

Motivational and Compensation Systems: Gilbert (1978) described motivation as an influence on performance, through both the external incentives available for performance and the individual’s willingness to work for those incentives (Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger, 2000). An individual’s internal motives to work may be influenced by changing other aspects of performance. Richard Clark offers some practical suggestions on motivation in his article "The '10 Most Wanted' Motivation Killers", published in ISPI's PerformanceXpress newsletter. Incentive and compensation systems encompass a wide variety of specific interventions including wages and benefits, monetary and non-monetary rewards, and management practices such as career opportunities, participatory goal-setting, and training and development. For more information on these interventions, see the Motivation Management and Pay for Performance Compensation Systems examples.

Organizational Development and Design: Like job analysis and workplace design, organizational design and development represent two steps in a process.  However, instead of focusing on specific jobs and outputs of work, organizational design and development are concerned with variables that impact the organization on a more global scale. Organizational design is concerned with aligning the vision, structure, processes, systems, staff competence, and culture of an organization (Dean, 1999). Organizational development (OD) goes a little further by examining the more informal, interpersonal aspects at work within organizations such as politics, social processes, and the way people interact with each other. Dean describes a relationship between organizational design, OD, and HPT in which the models and principles of each discipline can be coordinated to positively influence the systems, operations, and performers within organizations.

Analyzing Corporate Culture: Lineberry & Carleton (1999) define organizational culture as “a set of tendencies or behavior patterns that characterize the people in an organization” (p.337). A cultural audit includes an analysis of structural, managerial, procedural and perceptual aspects of the organization. Once cultural values have been identified through a comprehensive analysis, the following specific interventions may be utilized, depending on the desired level of cultural change:

It is important to recognize that the key to cultural change is the development of consistent organizational practices that support the espoused organizational values.

Employee/HR Selection: Leibler & Parkman (1999) set forth four major tasks in this process:

  1. Describe specific functions of the position
  2. Specify desired skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics of the candidate
  3. Determine selection criteria, including required initial competencies and those that can be developed later
  4. Develop a “systematic, objective procedure for assessing each candidate with respect to the selection criteria” (p. 353).

Consideration for an employee’s fit within the organizational culture may also be a consideration in employee selection. Some organizations have implemented the use of psychological testing as part of their selection process, though it is important to consider the validity and reliability of these tests, as well as ethical and legal issues associated with their use. Workforce Management, a website offering a wide variety of HR information and resources, offers the article, Picking the Right Assessment Tools by Dr. Charles Handler and Dr. Steven Huntas an overview of the variety of tests that are available for employee selection.  

Communication & Documentation Interventions

Performance Support Tools: “An optimized body of coordinated on-line and off-line methods and resources that enable and maintain a person’s or an organization’s performance” (Villachica & Stone, 1999, p. 443).  Performance support systems should be intuitive, interactive and integrated, immediately accessible, and meet the needs of different performers (p. 444).

Job Aids: These may take a variety of forms and delivery methods, but all serve to store job-related information external to the worker (Elliott, 1999). Job aids may be used alone or provide support and cues for information learned through instructional interventions. Job aids are appropriate when the tasks they support are of very high or very low frequency, complex, dynamic, involve highly critical criteria, and readily allow for their use (Elliott, 1999, p. 435).

Feedback & Communication Systems: Feedback is “information, about behavior or its impact” that is provided to performers “with the intent of influencing future performance” (Tosti & Jackson, 1999, p. 395). Effective feedback depends on its fit with the performer and the performance, its specificity to desired performance, and the timing with which it is delivered. Similar to Langdon’s (1999) criteria for selecting interventions, feedback can be used to establish, improve, maintain, or extinguish behaviors.

Organizational Communication Systems: Organizational communication systems involve the practices that support the sharing of information and knowledge within organizations to achieve organizational goals. Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger (2000) describe the following specific interventions within this category:

Financial Systems & Analysis: HPT practitioners should have at least a basic knowledge of the financial aspects of business as a means to round out their intervention resources. Often, the facet of performance that may be under consideration is the economic activity within the organization. Van Tiem, Moseley, & Dessinger (2000) describe financial forecasting, capital investment and spending, cash-flow analysis, and mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures as financial systems interventions. The ability to demonstrate the value of HPT interventions and their financial impact on an organization is also a key competency for practitioners. This is discussed in greater detail in the Evaluation section of the Toolkit.

Just as instructional interventions can be combined, so can non-instructional interventions. For example, the distinction between job aids and performance support systems can be blurred when they are delivered electronically. Feedback systems may be an integral part of job design, organizational development, and motivating employees. Further, instructional and non-instructional interventions are often used in collaboration to provide comprehensive solutions for improving performance.


Dean, P. J. (1999). Designing better organizations with human performance technology and organizational development. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 321-334). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Elliott, P. H. (1999). Job aids. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 430-441). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Gayeski, D. (2004a). IPT 560: Mod 3 Organizational and job structure interventions. Lotus Notes database via Boise State University. Retrieved December 1, 2004.

Gayeski, D. (2004b). IPT 560: Mod 4 Communication and documentation interventions. Lotus Notes database via Boise State University. Retrieved December 1, 2004.

Gilbert, T. (1978). The behavior engineering model. In T. Gilbert, Human competence: Engineering worthy performance (pp. 73-105). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kearney, L. & Smith, P. (1999). Workplace design for creativity. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 464-482). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Langdon, D. G. (1999). The language of work. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 260-280). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Leibler, S. N. & Parkman, A. W. (1999). Human resources selection. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 351-372). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Lineberry, C. S. & Carleton, J. R. (1999). Analyzing corporate culture. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 335-350). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Tosti, D. & Jackson, S. F. (1999). Feedback. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 395-410). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Van Tiem, D. M., Moseley, J. L., & Dessinger, J. C. (2000). Fundamentals of performance technology: A guide to improving people, processes, and performance. Washington, DC: International Society for Performance Improvement.

Villachica, S. W. & Stone, D. L. (1999). Performance support systems. In H. Stolovich & E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 442-463). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.