(Photo credit: Force Health Protection and Readiness)"When we make judgments about the competence of human conduct, we often look at performance from the wrong vantage point. We often confuse behavior with performance.” ~Thomas F. Gilbert, father of human performance technology
Monday, March 4, 2013
Confusing Behavior with Performance
In Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance, Gilbert writes of a story (pp.13-15) about how a bunch of undisciplined workers work side-by-side with well-trained, disciplined workers. The essence of the story is that the behavior of the undisciplined workers did not hamper their performance. The undisciplined workers actually outperformed the disciplined workers.
My intent is not to discredit highly-skilled, elite workers—they are often our most productive workers. However, I go back to Gilbert who says “Behavior is a necessary and integral part of performance, but we must not confuse the two. Unfortunately, we often do. To equate behavior and performance is like confusing a sale with the seller. Naturally, we cannot have one without the other.” Just because you are highly-trained and a member of an elite crew does not automatically equate to high performance.
Fire leaders have within their organizations disciplined and undisciplined workers. All too often, the behavior of the undisciplined worker is a supervisor’s main focus. What value do you place on performance? What cost do you place on behavior? Gilbert notes, “No sensible person tries to modify other people’s behavior just because it is there, or their performance just because it can be done. When we set about to engineer performance, we should view it in a context of value. We should not train someone to do something differently unless we place a value on the consequence—unless we see that consequence as a valuable accomplishment.” He goes on to state that what we really want to engineer is “worthy performance—in which the value of the accomplishment exceeds the cost of the behavior.”