This is the last in my series of “What is Human Performance Improvement” (HPI) articles, where I have been describing what HPI is.  While I’m sure it has been a thrill a minute reading these articles, at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, “If I need help with my business, dos it really matter if someone uses an HPI approach or not?”  My answer may surprise you.  We do not believe that it matters that a consultant uses a HPI approach per se, but it matters a great deal that they have a specific, actionable, and measurable consulting approach.  We just happen to believe that HPI is one of the more comprehensive, and reliable approaches out there.

If you are going to hire a consultant, I’m guessing you not only want, but need results, right? It cannot be a feel-good exercise that doesn’t change anything.  If you want results – ones that last – you must follow a methodical approach that:

  • Analyzes before prescribing.  Any solution that is recommended without an analysis is simply guesswork.  If a consultant doesn’t have an approach for analyzing the problem, or thinks they know what’s wrong without an analysis, look out! That is extremely risky – especially to small businesses, where the success or failure of the business can depend on the success of the solutions.
  • Analyzes multiple sources of information.  Sorry, but taking an owner or manager’s word for what is causing the problem is wrong about 80% of the time!  Sorry, but making recommendations based on an interview with one staff person, or only by analyzing an Income Statement will only review causes that can be seen only through their eyes.  It takes looking at all of the possible sources of information to get an accurate picture of what is causing the performance problem.
  • Contains multiple solutions.  Almost every performance problem worth spending money to correct involves many solutions that work in combination with each other to produce lasting change.  I know … I wish it was simpler too.  Unfortunately, a less-comprehensive approach usually only improves the situation for a short time, then the issues creep back in and all of your consulting investment is gone!
  • Involves action plans for implementation.  Good consultants are part of your implementation team.  They help you design and develop the chosen interventions – especially if your team will be implementing them.  They help you understand the dynamics of change that you will likely face, and help you plan for them.  A good consultant guides you through the change, rather than gives you a list of things to do and leave.
  • Measures/revises as you go.  A good methodology uses measurement and evaluation as a yardstick by which to measure progress, and to suggest changes to the planned implementation. Every intervention (i.e. solution) must be measured and evaluated, as well as progress toward the overall goal.  If you encounter a consultant that uses measurement as goal setting – run as fast as you can! It is important to have goals, but the purpose of evaluation is to measure your progress toward that goal.  If you do not measure/evaluate every intervention, you could end up spending a tremendous amount of time and money on activity instead of progress!
  • Stays intently focused on results.  To piggyback of my prior statement, any good consulting methodology stays laser-focused on generating results.  It’s not about selling books, assessments, or other pre-packaged programs (although some of these may be used in a legitimate consulting engagement) … Every part of the engagement is about correcting the specific performance problem that you are tackling – no getting side tracked by issues that may be important, but not relevant to the performance problem.

    So, is Human Performance Improvement the only answer?  Of course not.  However, if you are considering hiring a consultant, please be sure they use an approach that has these qualities.  If a qualified consultant does anything else, you will likely get poor results, and that approach is … well, just embarrassing!

    Other Articles of Interest

    What is Human Performance Improvement?  Part One: “An Overview”
    What is Human Performance Improvement? Part Two: “Finding the Problem”
    What is Human Performance Improvement? Part Three: “Identifying Specific Solutions”
    What is Human Performance Improvement? Part Four: “Designing and Developing the “Right” Solution”
    What is Human Performance Improvement? Part Five: “Measuring and Revising”

    To Learn More about Human Performance Improvement (HPI)

    International Society for Performance Improvement: