OLL Exchange

Organizational Leadership & Learning

Performance Interventions: Training is Not Always the Solution

April 16, 2013 in Spring 2013

Last spring, I was enrolled in Performance Interventions with Dr. Meera Alagaraja.  The main purpose of this course was to use the Human Performance Technology (HPT) process to explore performance improvement options outside of training.  Our hallmark assessment task consisted of identifying a critical business issue, identifying the gap between the actual and desired states, and presenting recommendations based on analysis of data gathered.

The Louisville Water Company (LWC) takes proud ownership in having served its 850,000+ customers for more than 150 years and looks to continue providing excellent customer service and value.  The meter-reading department is a critical component in attaining LWC’s goals.  In my role as Metering Services Specialist, I am tasked with the responsibility of assessing processes and seeking alternative ways to improve work production and move employees closer to achieving system goals.

This area has experienced several cultural changes over the past 5 – 10 years, including new employees, new management, and overall structural changes to the organization.  Meter reading also consists solely of union employees, which is an important factor in determining performance interventions.

Due to the significant differences in goals and actual outcomes for 2011, the management team determined that changes should be implemented to improve their process and overall system.  This was an area of opportunity to investigate where the lagging occurs and then implement techniques of the Human Performance Technology (HPT) model in a performance intervention.  Some potential effects of the area not meeting goals include having an influx of work, fluctuating revenue, higher expenses for operations and maintenance due to overtime, possibility of more risk claims, and an inability to maintain positive working relationships.

During the data-collection phase, I began consulting with the meter reading supervisor to determine what and where the gap existed in results.  Identifying the gap helped me to create a plan concerning what information should be collected.  Using the HPT model, the whole system is reviewed to locate contributing factors to the performance gap, including the organizational, process and individual levels.

First, existing data is used to analyze how LWC is affected by the work of the meter readers, including financials, and analyzing whether the company is meeting employees’ needs.  Second, we review current procedures the meter reading supervisor and his employees use and observe activities such as team meetings to assess process interaction.  Last, interviews are conducted with high performing meter readers to assess what sets them apart from the team and gain individual feedback.

Having gathered and analyzed this plethora of information, I was able to pinpoint specific contributors to the performance gap and provide recommendations for overcoming the critical business issue.  Application of the concepts from this course enabled me to present solutions that not only included changes from a training perspective, but also solutions to implement changes in behavior.  Today, I am a better internal consultant and change agent in my organization because I have developed my analytical skills and broadened my conceptual knowledge on best practices for improving performance.

Daniela Hazel is a student in the M.S. in Human Resource and Organization Development Program and serves as a Metering Services Specialist at the Louisville Water Company.  She completed this intervention as part of her coursework in Performance Intervention, which is a Master’s level course taught by Dr. Meera Alagaraja.