A Brief History of Human Performance Improvement (HPI): Talking with Guy Wallace

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Human Performance Improvement, or HPI, is a method of improving performance and outcomes at organizations that can include workplace training but considers  reasons for problems beyond just knowledge and skill gaps and interventions other than just training.

It’s also sometimes called Human Performance Technology, or HPT.

In this interview, HPI practitioner Guy Wallace gives us an overview of HPI/HPT, tells us about a few of the key ideas and originators (some of whom Guy worked with or new), gives us a few best practices, and talks about two HPI-related projects of his: a series of recorded video discussions with other HPI practitioners and a website collecting HPI resources for people to check out and learn from.

Check out the recorded discussion below and then check below the video for some links to things Guy and I talked about.

We’ve got resources for you below, plus a free downloadable Mager/Pipe Problem-Solving Flowchart, so check that all out.


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Supporting Behavior Change at Work: An Interview with Julie Dirksen

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Not so long ago, we had a discussion with Julie Dirksen about how to help people learn at work, with Julie mixing in stuff from her classic book Design for How People Learn along with additional helpful tips.

In that discussion, there were some times we talked about desired behavior changes and how some times, learning along won’t contribute to that behavior change. That’s usually because the “problem” isn’t an issue of a knowledge or skills gap, but other factors are driving the behavior or lack thereof.

This is something Julie covers in some detail in her book, and it’s also something she’s planning on covering in a lot more detail in an upcoming book (stay tuned for that one). But she was nice enough to join us and talk about it here, and in particular to talk about the COM-B behavior change model, which is also sometimes called the Behavior Change Wheel.

Check out the recorded discussion below, and then scroll down to see a series of related links and resources.

Of course, we appreciate everything Julie’s doing–the great books, the discussions, the sharing of information, etc.–and we thank her. Be sure to buy her Design for How People Learn book and keep an eye out for the upcoming book on supporting behavior change.

Links and resources below!


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New Simulation Course Released: High-Voltage Electrical Switching Simulator

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We’re excited to be able to offer a new supplement to our existing online training courses for electrical transmission & distribution–a new 3D-animated High-Voltage Switching simulation.

Check out the short highlight video below and contact us if you’d like to learn more.

This simulator allows workers to practice this dangerous, high-risk task safely, an excellent use of scenario-based training and simulations.

Before you go, feel free to download our guide to Online Training for the Electrical Transmission & Distribution industry.

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Guide to Electrical Transmission & Distribution Online Training

Download this free guide to learn how to select and use online training in the electrical transmission & distribution industry. Includes tips on general training, blended learning, online courses and learning management systems, and more.

Download Free  Guide

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COVID-19 and Mental Health in Construction & other High-Risk Industries

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In an earlier recorded discussion with Cal Beyer, we learned that the construction industry had very high rates of stress, depression, substance use and abuse, and suicide (see Why Mental Health and Suicide Prevention is the Next Frontier in the Construction Industry Safety).

And then, to add insult to injury, the COVID-19 pandemic came along, adding virus-related health concerns, economic and job-security stresses, and more concerns. This has made the situation worse, not better.

We keep tabs with Cal on social media (follow Cal on LinkedIn here) and have been listening in as he continues to raise awareness about this long-term issue and how the COVID-19 pandemic has been making things worse, and so we decided to ask him to join us, tell us about the situation, and tell us what we can do to try to help.

Thanks to Cal for participating in this discussion and for everything he’s doing to try to help on this issue in general. The recorded discussion is immediately below, and we’re going to publish it now, but give us a day or two and we’ll begin adding some helpful links to things Cal mentions in the discussion as well.

Here are links to some of the resources and organization Cal mentions in the discussion:

You may also want to check out our online health and wellness training courses.

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How the COVID Pandemic Has Broadened The Skills Gap and Increased the Need for Skills Development Training (And What To Do About It)

Back in the years and even decades before the COVID-19 pandemic dominated much of what we talk and think about, employers and learning & development experts used to talk a lot about the skills gap and how to create and provide training to help employees develop those needed skills.

And to be honest, that skill gap didn’t go away with COVID, and in fact in several ways, COVID brought with it an ever greater need to help people develop new job skills.

We talked about this a little bit in a recorded discussion with learning professional Dr. Stella Lee, COVID-19 Presents Challenge to L&D to “Step Up,” not so long ago. Go check out that discussion, because as usual, Dr. Lee’s on point and provides some great tips about all this.

In this article, we’re going to list a few ways COVID-19 has made this skills gap issue more problematic and give you some tips for creating performance interventions and training solutions to help workers develop those skills quickly, efficiently, and reliably.


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OSHA Released New Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Tight-Fitting PAPRs During COVID-19

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing (go get your flu shots, friends!), and while many people are sadly without work or are working from home, quite a few Americans are indeed working “at work” and safety professionals are doing everything in their power to keep everyone safe and healthy.

OSHA’s been busy too, as you’d guess. Since the pandemic started here in the US back in February/March or so of 2020, they’ve created a series of temporary guidances for employers dealing with unique COVID-related challenges. And just recently–on October 2, 2020, to be exact–they released another.

The new OSHA guidance is called Temporary Enforcement Guidance – Tight-Fitting Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) Used During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. We’ll point out some key points below, but as always we encourage you to read the entire OSHA guidance and get the words straight from the regulator’s mouth/pen/keyboard.

What Respirators Does This New Guidance Apply To?

Here’s what OSHA says on this: “It applies to tight-fitting PAPRs, approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), when used for protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19…”

What Workers Does This New Guidance Apply To?

Again, here’s OSHA: “…healthcare personnel or any other workers in high or very high exposure risk activities (e.g., emergency responders, mortuary workers, laboratory workers)…”

What Are the Underlying Reasons for this Temporary Enforcement Guidance?

It’s driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, but also by teh resulting shortage of N95 respirators and supplies for fit-testing. Here’s how OSHA puts it: “…because of supply shortages of both disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and fit-testing supplies (e.g., Bitrex™, isoamyl acetate) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

You should also pay attention to this statement by OSHA: “This memorandum outlines a new enforcement discretion policy to permit the use of NIOSH-approved tight-fitting PAPRs, because of their positive-pressure design, for protection against SARS-CoV-2 when initial and/or annual fit-testing is infeasible due to respirator and fit-testing supply shortages.  This guidance applies only to fit-testing of NIOSH-approved tight-fitting PAPRs used as a contingency capacity strategy2 when performing job tasks with high or very high occupational exposure risk to SARS-CoV-2.”

When Does This NOT Apply?

But hey, don’t think this means you can do whatever you want whenever you want. In particular, OSHA notes this temporary enforcement guidance DOESN’T APPLY in the following circumstances:

  • PAPRs that have not been approved by NIOSH;
  • PAPRs used by any workers with low or medium exposure risk to SARS-CoV-2;
  • PAPRs used by any workers for protection against airborne hazards other than SARS-CoV-2 (e.g., chemical hazards); and
  • Loose-fitting hooded PAPRs that do not require fit-testing.

Where Can You Learn More about OSHA’s Efforts Re: COVID-19?

They’ve got an entire page full of information and guidances. Check them all out here: OSHA COVID-19 Safety and Health Topic Page.


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LMS Basics: Can You Use an LMS to Track Safety Training Completions, Due Dates, Expirations, and Recurrent Safety Training?

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Many people are quite familiar with learning management systems (LMS), what they can do, and how you can use them at work. However, other people are still new to the idea of a learning management system, and they often ask us how they might be able to use an LMS at their workplace.

We have conversations like this with safety mangers and other people tasked with delivering, tracking, and reporting on safety and health training at their workplace, especially when it it comes to safety training that fulfills compliance requirements from organizations like OSHA or other regulators.

The short answer is that yes, many learning management systems can do that kind of stuff to help you out with your safety training. Of course, no LMS is exactly like another, and each has their own features. So some LMS may do everything a safety manager wants, whereas other LMS may miss out on a few of those safety/compliance-specific features because they focus on some other aspect of workplace learning and performance improvement.

The Convergence LMS was designed in close consultation with manufacturing and industrial clients, often including their safety managers. We designed our LMS with their needs in mind, and they’ve been battle-testing it out in the field, running our LMS through their EHS training compliance requirement challenges and letting us know when we needed tweaks or new features not just to hit that bottom floor of safety training compliance but improve overall safety at their organization while also making the LMS and safety training administration easier and easier. So, thanks to them for working with us on this for more than a decade, and lucky you for coming to us now looking for help with your safety training needs.

We’ll briefly explain a little more about how an LMS can help with your safety training needs and challenges below. And of course, we invite you to contact us with questions about using an LMS for safety training or anything having to do with safety training (we sell pretty cool 3D-animated online safety and health training courses, too, by the way).

If you’re really serious about getting some online safety training at your workplace, in addition to this article, you might find the two resources below very helpful:

Now let’s get on with our quick overview of using an LMS for these safety training assignment and tracking issues we just discussed.


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Blended Learning Basics: Using Asynchronous and Synchronous Training Activities

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Many studies have shown that blended learning experiences tend to lead to better instructional outcomes–more learning, more knowledge acquisition, more skill development, better transfer to the job, etc. For more on this, including some quotes, studies, and meta-studies about blended learning effectiveness from the US Department of Education, learning researcher Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark, and learning researcher Dr. Will Thalheimer, see our Guide to Blended Learning Strategies.

But of course, learning design professionals shouldn’t just blend willy-nilly. You should have a reason for choosing to select the different training delivery methods you use in each learning blend.

There are multiple different ways to think about how to choose the right training delivery methods for the right learning activities in your learning blend. One of them is to think of when the learners will benefit from an asynchronous learning experience and when they’ll benefit from a synchronous learning experience. (Quick note for those not used to the jargon: an “asynchronous” learning experience means the learner is completing the learning experience alone–think of something like reading a book or completing a self-paced elearning course–and a “synchronous” learning experience means the learner is completing the learning experience with an instructor and other learners–think of a traditional instructor-led classroom training session or a virtual classroom completed online).

To help give you some ideas of how to use asynchronous and synchronous learning activities in a learning blend, we checked out a great recent series of articles on blended learning and synchronous/asynchronous activities written by our good friend, the learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank. Dr. Shank wrote these five articles for eLearning Industry–you can find the first article on synchronous and asynchronous learning here and then continue to read the rest.

We’re going to give you some of the highlights on Dr. Shank’s five-article series on asynchronous and synchronous activities in blended learning programs in the article below, although of course we invite you to read all the articles.

And if you’re curious, check out some of our earlier collaborations with Dr. Shank on other important learning topics:

Now let’s learn a little more about when to best use asynchronous and synchronous learning events.


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New Courses Released: Facilities Maintenance Online Training Library

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Although we publicized this in different ways when it happened, we’re late here at the Convergence Training blog announcing that Vector Solutions, including Convergence Training and RedVector, made a major course release of Facilities Maintenance online training courses this year.

Our new Commercial Facilities Maintenance online training library includes 69 individual courses running over a total of 23 hours and separated into 16 different related series of courses.

Here’s a quick overview video that you might enjoy:

Below is a list of the online training courses in this new Commercial Facilities Maintenance online training library. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about these courses or our LMS for delivering them. Click to contact Convergence Training or RedVector.

We’ve got additional descriptions of each course for you below.

Also, if you want to dig a little deeper into some good ideas for improving your facilities maintenance training programs, check out our record, on-demand webinar explaining how Vector Solutions joined forces with our partners at CBRE to help them build a best-in-class facilities maintenance training program for CBRE and their maintenance techs.


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Guide to Online Training for Electrical Transmission & Distribution

Online Training for Electrical Transmission & Distribution Guide

If you’re looking to implement online training for your electrical transmission & distribution workforce, this is the guide for you. We explain tech and terms; walk you through criteria for online training courses for T&D, learning management systems for administering your training, and online training providers; discuss ways to blend training for more effective learning; and much more.

We encourage you to download the guide, ask us any questions you may have, and of course check out our series of online training courses for the electrical transmission & distribution industry.

And a quick heads-up: we’ve got a surprise new training offering for the T&D sector coming soon, so come back in just a little while to see what the excitement is all about. It will be worth it, we promise.


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Safety of Work, Safety Work & Safety Clutter: Talking with David Provan

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Australian safety professional David Provan is an interesting voice in occupational safety, and recently I read two interesting papers he has co-authored: Safety Work v. Safety of Work and Safety Clutter.

I liked those articles so much we asked David to join us at the first-ever, inaugural meeting of the Portland, Oregon (USA) Safety Differently Book Club. David graciously accepted and he knocked it out of the park, talking about all of these topics with local safety professionals while an adult beverage or two were consumed here in the PNW. So thanks to David for that.

That conversation was so enlightening, I dug deep and asked David if he’d do a recorded discussion on the same basic ideas so we could present it to people who weren’t in the Safety Differently Book Club, and he kindly agreed. And the video below is the official record of that discussion.

We’d like to thank David again, we hope you give this talk a listen and find it useful, and we encourage you to drop your thoughts into the comments section below.

I plan on adding some related links and a transcript below at some point soon. Until then, enjoy the video and thanks for being patient with me!

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Complicated Systems, Complex Systems, Emergence & Systems Thinking in Safety: Talking with Adam Johns

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In this recorded video discussion with English safety professional Adam Johns, we talk about two big issues in organizational performance improvement (in general) that are big concerns in occupational safety as well: systems and complexity.

Our workplaces are made up of multiple systems, which is why systems thinking is so important when you’re trying to create improvements or solve problems. We  introduce this issue in our Systems Thinking for Workplace Performance Improvement article and it’s also something we discuss in our ATD Human Performance Improvement Model article.

Additionally, our workplaces are complex, particularly because they are sociotechnical systems, meaning machines and humans interact. This is different than just being complicated, in the way that a machine can be complicated. That’s because even though a machine is complicated, you can predict what it will do accurately, but when you add humans (and collections of humans, such as departments or organizations or multiple organizations), things become unpredictable. This can lead to what people refer to as emergence.

I’ve been familiar with Adam Johns for some time, but when I read his article on Complicated and Complex Systems in Safety Management, I knew I wanted to talk through this stuff with him. He was gracious enough to accept, sharing his time and knowledge, and the video below is the fruit of that. Thanks to Adam!

And we hope you enjoy the discussion. Let us know your thoughts.

Note: I’ll get workin’ on adding relevant links and a transcript for this discussion shortly! Thanks for being patient with me until then.

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