Careers in Human Performance

By:  Kathleen Iverson, Ph.D.

Human Performance Technology (a.k.a. Human Performance Improvement) is a field of study and practice that utilizes a systematic process to analyze performance problems and identify and implement solutions.  The name incorporates:

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Human: the individuals and groups that make up our organizations
 activities and measurable outcomes
 a systematic and systemic approach to solve practical problems

Judith Hale from Chicago is the current President of ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement).  Watch her video to learn about HPI and its applications.  If you are viewing this blog via Blackboard, you’ll need to right-click the link above and select “open link in new tab” so that the video will work.

When considering careers in HPI/HPT keep in mind that the field is relatively new and although performance improvement may be a required or preferred skill set of many positions in training, organization development, and human resource management, it may not be immediately visible in the job title.  In a recent search of job openings in workplace learning, we found many instances of HPI in the job requirements.  Below are three recent job openings where performance is emphasized in training, OD, and performance consulting.

Training Specialist:  Develop and deliver job-related performance-based training to a geographically dispersed audience of 2,500 adult

Organization Performance Consultant: Manages the performance consulting and performance-based training analysis activities for all DTE Energy organizations. Leads efforts to ensure all technical training programs meet performance-based industry standards. Mentors senior management in implementing performance-based training. Partners with senior management to set organizational training goals and ensures training is used strategically to optimize organizational performance. Directs activities to ensure training programs are implemented in compliance with regulatory and industry standards. Serves as the DTE Energy conscience for utilizing the Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) process. Mentors management on human performance initiatives, continuous improvement projects and activities related to training.

Organization Development Manager: Knowledgeable about organizational development and training practices, including needs assessment, instructional design, 360 Feedback, employee engagement, leadership training, performance management, and change management. Skill in the design and application of performance metrics development measurement and evaluation tools.

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Please join the discussion and let us know how you might use HPI in your career and also post a link to a recent position that requests expertise in performance management.


  • Human Performance Improvement has applicability in every profession but we are seeing a huge interest in HPI in the healthcare field in recent years. Hospitals and healthcare organizations are looking towards improvement efforts to drive results. With CMS Value-Based Purchasing and Pay for Performance plans with private insurers, HPI methodology is needed now more than ever. These payer programs demand that hospitals provide quality care to patients or not get reimbursed. Patient safety is a major focus in these programs and hospitals that are experiencing high rates of hospital acquired injuries or what is termed as “never events” are feeling the financial consequences. For that reason a major performance improvement effort is necessary, so much so that hospitals are creating entire departments dedicated to improvement and operational excellence. I am hoping to combine my clinical experience in nursing with my few found knowledge and skills learned in my TRDV program. Here is a link I found for an “Improvement Advisor” for a major healthcare system close to home.

  • Although the field of Performance Improvement is fairly new to many industries, I do think it has a place everywhere. Focusing on people and how they essentially work smarter and not harder is always desired from leadership across various organizations. Some sectors (like private and government) tend to rely more on performance interventions that call for practitioners to support. Until it is seen as beneficial in the long term, I think the market for HPI will have to push for more visibility. Here is a link to a job posting I found about HPI skills.

  • Hello,
    My major is Organization Development. So I am happy that I read this article. It is important for us students to realize that there may not be a general or consistent name for job positions that we are looking for.
    I have included this link that I found on CareerBuilder. The position is for an Organizational Change Manager.

  • It is interesting that today the focus is more on people and not the bottomline. Don’t get me wrong, making a profit is a prime objective, but looking back in history, the industrial revolution focused on production at the expense of the workers. Today, the workers are the prime focus because without the right people doing the right job profits can suffer. People have always been key to success, it just took society a little longer to appreciate the power of human performance espcially in today’s service based, highly technical economy.

  • It seems like HPI/HPT is really the basis or foundation of TRDV and OD. Focusing on people/employees, the organization, performance expectations, interventions, and a systematic way to implement them is really going to provide a full service to the organization. Nowadays I can see how more organizations would want someone who has the experience and exposure to understand all solutions and not just be able to execute a training seminar. I can see this field becoming more and more prominent.

  • Beverly Bellamy

    I would use HPI in my career making sure staff are trained and efficient in all processes. I would create professional development programs and career paths as incentives to optimal performance. I would also review processes on a regular basis to ensure deliverables met customer expectations; identify any gaps in performance and address any issues as soon as possible.

  • I have used HPI in previous careers, but since I was never “formally” trained in these roles, I’m not sure I knew that’s what I was drawing upon at the time 🙂 . I don’t know of a recent position that requests expertise in performance management, but I did just finish my first performance related experience in my new job and find it amazing how HPI is used and understood in different environments. In my personal experience, in settings where I would think performance would be highly regarded and valued, it was sadly dismissed, and in my new role, I was shocked (plesantly so) to discover its importance and the process already in place surrounding it.

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