ATD Blog

What Is Human Performance Improvement?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Traditional training is only about 5 to 10 percent effective in obtaining meaningful performance results. Another approach is needed. The human performance improvement (HPI) process provides you with a structure to follow on what can often be a not-so-systematic path.

In addition to identifying human performance gaps and their possible solutions, this standardized approach offers the ability to measure and evaluate the success of your efforts, eliminating guesswork.

HPI is results based and systematic. Rather than focusing on wants or needs, HPI follows a results-based approach to improving performance, distinguishing it from many human resource development activities. The process is driven by a business need and a performance need, but it doesn’t stop there. It is justified by the results of a cause analysis.

HPI for Your Business

The HPI process helps you to articulate your business goals, link these goals to human performance, diagnose the current state of performance in the organization, find the root causes for performance deficiencies, implement solutions, and evaluate their results.

Being business focused means having a clear understanding of what your organization’s strategic priorities are and using those priorities to guide your management decisions.

The process of analyzing performance begins with analyzing your business needs and gaps, which allows you to focus on the goals for your business.


While you may believe that your business goals are clear and understood by everyone within your business, this assumption is often wrong. If your business is like most, many of your employees will have difficulty stating what your business goals are and identifying how their work assignments affect those goals.

HPI Begins With Your Goals

A business-focused approach to applying HPI to your bottom line begins by identifying what the key business goals are for the client or organization. Your business goals could include goals for:

  • the entire organization
  • a department within your organization
  • a specific team or unit
  • a function.

In a large and complex organization, there are usually a variety of business goals at different levels of the organization.

Individual Performance and Business Goals


Performance by individuals results in output for your business or organization, but HPI begins at the end of the process, considering the business output or goals of the business, and then applying those goals backwards to the departments, teams, and individuals who will work toward satisfying those goals. The process of identifying your business goals is critical to applying HPI to your business.

Once you have identified your goals, it’s important to verify that you have set a realistic target. Your business goals should be quantitative, meaning you should have a definite understanding of when the goals have been met, and time limited, meaning that you have a definite schedule when you can ascertain whether the goal has been achieved.

Gap Analysis Aims at Improving Performance

The process of analyzing performance always begins with business analysis, which allows us to identify the gaps in performance. HPI takes into account the influences that affect your business, the tasks that form the daily workload in your business or departments, the processes that are needed to deliver the outcomes desired, and the final goal that your business seeks to satisfy. The difference between the beginning point (current performance level) and the endpoint (desired performance level) is the performance gap.

Learn more about the ATD model and how to improve your workforce's performance with ATD's Improving Human Performance certificate.

About the Author

Chris Ross has been a performance consultant, trainer, lecturer and presenter for over 30 years. He owns The Engagement Effect, a multi-discipline training and consulting firm with over clients throughout North America.  The Engagement Effect provides solutions in performance improvement, leadership and supervisory development, employee selection and engagement, strategic planning, and risk management. He has worked with over 800 organizations. Ross has earned professional certification in Workplace Learning and Performance (CPLP) through ATD and is additionally recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).  Ross has presented over a thousand training classes, workshops, seminars, keynote speeches and presentations. He facilitated hundreds of workshops for FranklinCovey, DiSC and is a Master Trainer for Development Dimensions International. Additionally he travels throughout the US and Canada as an Implementation Specialist for SafeStart, a division of Electrolab Training Systems.  A frequent contributor and columnist for “Alaska Contractor,” “Council Prospector,” and numerous other publications; he also authored a piece for the recently published book, “Consultant Business Development Guide: Starting and Succeeding with a SH&E Consulting Practice.”

1 Comment
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I am currently in the Master Trainer program with I came across the terminology, human systems improvement and had to find out more what it means. I found your article on Google. I appreciate you explaining this concept clearly and in a conversational way. The impact on me as a reader is, I can follow and understand easily.
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