Why Behaviors Matter

Human Performance is the outcome of two inputs: Behaviors and Results.

Human Performance is the outcome of two inputs: Behaviors and Results.

HP = Behaviors + Results

Results are easy. If an action occurs, what happens?  Results are easy to identify, easy to trend, and tend to drive Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for many companies.  Results are what we refer to as lagging indicators.  Results are important, and this post is not to diminish them.  However, results are not the whole story.

What about the behavior side? Believe it or not, behaviors are at least, if not more valuable, that the results we see.  Behaviors give you a glimpse into the mind of the person and what may be going through their head as they perform a task.  Are they overly focused on a task and possibly missing a key piece of information?  Do they seem overconfident, or are they in total control of the situation.  This can only be determined by an analysis of their behaviors exhibited during a task.

Behaviors also give insight into items “below the water-line.” These are leading indicators – things such as near-misses.  Unlike results, the items below the water line are subtle.  Left unchecked, these items will eventually turn into tomorrow’s incident.


Finally, behaviors are one of the most powerful ways to understand the culture of an organization.  Does an organization condone drifting from documented standards and procedures?  Is stopping a job due to a safety concern frowned upon?  Or are managers quick to pass blame onto employees for making a mistake?

Behaviors are that important.

For more information on learning to monitor behavior or to see how we can help, please contact us.


What is Human Performance

The question we at Understanding Human Performance encounter the most is…

The question we at Understanding Human Performance encounter the most is “What is HP (or HU for our nuclear friends)?”  Though fundamentally easy to understand, it can sometimes be hard to grasp at first.

The science (this term is used very loosely) of Human Performance attempts to understand why people make the decisions they make, when they make them and the circumstances in which the decision were made.  By understanding these critical points, Leaders can motivate their employees to change behaviors to achieve desired outcomes, such as improved efficiency or preventing errors from escalating into safety incidents.

At its core, Human Performance understands that

  • Humans are fallible, and even the best make mistakes.
  • Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable, and preventable.
  • Organizational values influence individual behavior.
  • People achieve high levels of performance based largely on the encouragement and reinforcement received from leaders, peers, and subordinates.
  • Events can be avoided by understanding the reasons mistakes occur and applying the lessons learned from past errors.

By utilizing HP Tools, Coaching, Risk Mitigation, Cause Analysis and other techniques, we can ensure that our organizations operate efficiently and without incidents.

Human Performance Improvement is a process, that when properly implemented, helps to positively impact behaviors, reduce human errors, and manage controls. It is the study of behaviors we exhibit in order to achieve specific results.  These behaviors can be identified and measured by observation; because they can be observed, they can be changed.

Human performance can also be thought of as “Mental PPE,” which is designed to prevent, detect, and correct the errors related to the work we do and the culture we live in.

It is also worth noting that human behavior is shaped by interaction in the world

For more information or to see how we can help, please contact us.