The Human Performance System

Every performer exists in a complex system of variables that influence performance.  At PDL we use the Human Performance System as a model for understanding the causes of undesired performance and for designing productive, positive work environments that ensure reliable results.  We start with the proposition that the job performer is only one of the variables that determine results, and usually the job performer wants to do well.  So we apply a careful, objective examination of all the factors that could be contributing to a work situation:

The first variable is Output Expectations.  Do the performers know what is expected?  Are the expectations achievable?

The second variable is Inputs/Triggers.  Is it clear when the task or job should be performed?  Are there directions?  Once the performer starts the task, is there any task interference?

The third variable is Resources.  Does the performer have all the necessary equipment, tools, facilities, etc., to perform as expected?  Are the resources readily available and in ample supply?  Are the resources in reasonable condition?

The fourth variable is Consequences.  When the performer tries to perform as expected, is the result/reaction positive or negative to the performer?  What are the immediate consequences vs. longer-term consequences?

The fifth variable is Feedback.  Does the performer get regular feedback on his/her performance? Is the feedback understandable, useful, relevant?  Is the feedback specific to the performer’s task/job?

The sixth variable is the Performer.  Has the performer been adequately trained or coached to do this job?  Is the performer willing to do the work?  And does the performer have the basic capacity (i.e., physical, mental requirements) for this type of work?


The HPS can help you if:

  1. You are not sure why performers are inconsistent in achieving results
  2. Different branches, offices or teams are achieving differing results but you’re not sure why
  3. There are disagreements or varying theories about why performers are not achieving reliable results.