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Performance Analysis and Intervention at Work
An entire field of study has grown up around the issue of job performance. It is called various names, workplace engineering, quality control, human performance technology, performance technology, and performance engineering, among others. Obviously, performance only becomes an issue when there is a gap between the desired objective and the current output. There are numerous models used to analyze job performance and productive intervention methodology. One thing they all have in common is that all attempts to correct insufficient job performance must start with a complete analysis of the current job performance compared to the desired job performance. Further, in order to formulate en effective correction technique, one must thoroughly understand the problem. Only by completing a thorough analysis can one implement an effective fix.
The means of analysis vary widely. There is a multitude of literature regarding performance analysis. The first step in identifying performance issues and intervention plans entails defining the possible causes of poor performance. According to Rossett, "Without analysis, there is no Human Performance Technology (HTP). Analysis provides the foundation for HPT, a profession and a perspective that demands study before recommendations, data before decisions, and involvement before actions" (Rossett, p. 139). There are numerous lists of categories, but most analysts agree that essentially performance issues all fall under three basic categories which have been identified by Rosenberg (1966): "The work…The workplace…The worker" (Rosenberg, p.374). This seems simplistic, but one can take a more extensive list such as the one identified by The University of Minnesota and place each one under one of the three above categories. The University of Minnesota lists the following as "types of work performance problems:
poor prioritizing, timing, scheduling; lost time, lateness, absenteeism, leaving without permission, excessive visiting, phone use, break time, use of internet, misuse of sick leave; slow response to work requests, untimely completion of assignments; preventable accidents; inaccuracies, errors; failure to meet expectations for product quality, cost or service; customer/client dissatisfaction; spoilage and/or waste materials; inappropriate or poor work methods; negativism, lack of cooperation, hostility; failure or refusal to follow instructions; unwillingness to take responsibility; insubordination, power games; unwillingness, refusal, or inability to update skills; resistance to policy, procedure, work method changes; lack of flexibility in response to problems; inappropriate communication style: over-aggressive, passive; impatient, inconsiderate, argumentative; destructive humor, sarcasm, horseplay, fighting; inappropriate conflict with others: customers, coworkers, supervisors; smoking, eating, drinking in inappropriate places; sleeping on the job; alcohol or drug use; problems with personal hygiene; threatening, hostile, or intimidating behaviors" ("Types of Work Performance Problems").
Though this list is extensive and cumbersome, it is definitely descriptive, and upon analysis of each category, one will find that it either falls under Rosenberg's (1966) category of, "The work," "The workplace," or "The worker" (Rosenberg, p. 374).
According to the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), Tom Gilbert, who is known as the father of Human Performance Technology, identified these six categories for analyzing performance gaps: " consequences, incentives, or rewards; data, information, and feedback; environmental support, resources, and tools; individual capacity; motives and expectations; and skills and knowledge" ("Human Performance Technology (HPT) Primer"). These categories were adopted by the International Society for Performance Improvement for use as a universal means of categorizing causes of performance gaps.
Another notable pioneer in Human Performance Technology is Robert Manger. According to the ISPI, he is "known for "3 part objectives," "What every manager should know about training," and the "Mager six-pack" ("Human Performance Technology (HPT) Primer"). Mager also developed a performance analysis flow diagram to be used to identify performance problems, according to John Dunning on his training website (Dunning). Robert Mager and Peter Pipe developed a flow chart to facilitate the identification of performance issues and solutions. In the Mager and Pipe scenario, one would follow the following steps:
Step 1: To find the problem look at the goals, objectives, and standards established by the organization. If these are not met, they could be indicators of performance problems. The following must be stated in quantifiable terms: What is the actual performance? What is the desired performance? The difference between the two is the "gap" that must be closed by management action or by training. Determine if the problem is worth fixing. This can be done by calculating the costs, consequences, or lost opportunity related to the performance gap. If the problem is worth fixing go to Step 2 to determine the cause. Step 2: Look for Management Causes and Fixes: Have performance standards been set so individuals know what is expected of them? If not, set them. (The organizational goals, objectives and standards mentioned in Step 1, need to be applied to individual performance). Is adequate feedback being provided so individuals can correct their performance? If not, provide feedback. Are there any obstacles that prevent the desired performance such as manpower shortages, inadequate equipment, poor supervision, ineffective policies? If so, remove the obstacle(s). Are there negative consequences for poor performance? If not, change the consequences so individuals are not "rewarded" for poor performance. If these actions do not fix the problem it may be a knowledge, skill or attitude deficiency. Go to Step 3. Step 3: Identify Knowledge, Skills or Attitude Causes: Are there any fast fixes to the problem such as providing a job aid or providing additional practice? If so, provide. Can the job be changed to allow others with greater proficiency to accomplish the task? If so, change the job. Does the person have the capability to do the job if trained? If so- set up the training. If not, terminate or transfer (Dunning).
Applying the above flow chart and process to productivity issues which are currently plaguing a wastewater treatment plant would follow the path described next. First, the scenario is that a supervisor in the wastewater treatment plant is having problems getting employees to put in an honest days work. Further, the supervisor would like to see employees being more efficient and productive with their time, and more proactive with regard to making suggestions on ways to improve productivity.
Taking one issue at a time, first analyze the issue of failing to put in an honest days work. In this situation, the problem is twofold. First is the issue of attendance and timeliness. Second is the issue of productivity while at work. By applying the aforementioned steps to the issue of attendance and timeliness, it is determined that the standards have not been defined adequately. It is further determined that the problem is definitely worth fixing. Tardiness and absenteeism are having a substantial monetary effect on productivity and lost opportunity. One cannot possibly do one's job if one is not at work, and it is impossible to take advantage of opportunities as they arise if one is not present when they arise.
Still looking at tardiness and absenteeism and having determined that it is a problem worth fixing, it is now time to complete step two of the process. Define what the standards are regarding absenteeism and lateness. For example, each employee has a total of five sick days per year and is allowed five late arrivals per year with no questions asked. Any absences or tardies beyond five will have negative consequences unless there are extenuating circumstances which will be reviewed by immediate management and the Human Resources Department. These negative consequences may include time off without pay, inability to participate in the monetary bonus program, and termination. Also institute a program whereby absences and tardies are tracked on the employee's paystubs weekly so that they may easily track their own progress. In the event that the preceding measures do not correct the problem, then step three will be applied to determine if there is a knowledge, skill, or attitude problem.
Now, applying the same process, look at the issue of productivity while at work. Are employees using their time at work in the most productive manner? Are they spending too much time around the water cooler? Unfortunately, the employees are spending an inordinate amount of work time doing things that are not work related. A great amount of time is being wasted on cigarette breaks, on the internet, and basic loitering. The problem is definitely worth fixing as it is all pervasive and not limited to one individual. To reduce the amount of loitering and increase production, guidelines for breaks are too established. For example, for every four hours of work, each employee may take a paid fifteen minute break. However, to track the break time, the employees will be required to punch in and out at the time clock. Further, going forward, all access to the internet will be limited to management only. Again, any deviations will be met with consequences as described above.
Now, because it is a known fact that this wastewater treatment plant is experiencing a tightening of the budget as a result of the current economy there are other fixes to consider. Overall, morale is low because items which have been considered…[continue]
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