In today's competitive business landscape, organizations are constantly seeking ways to optimize their performance and gain a competitive edge. One key area that has gained significant attention is the concept of Human and Organizational Performance (HOP). HOP focuses on harnessing the potential of individuals within an organization by viewing them as problem solvers - rather than problems to manage - and learning deeply from them. In this article, we will explore the benefits of embracing HOP and how it can drive success.
What is Human & Organizational Performance?
To me, at the core of it all, Human and Organizational Performance is a fundamental shift in how we view people. It is the move away from viewing people as problems to be managed, and the shift towards viewing people as problem solvers. While there are several other vital bits and pieces, Human and Organizational Performance is about starting from a place of trust, embracing the human element of our work worlds, understanding that people show up to work to do a good job, and constantly and deliberately learning from those that do the actual work.
In our traditional approaches to the safety of work (and most other things for that matter) we often have started from a position of distrusting our fellow humans; we have viewed people as the source of problems and pain within our organizations. People have been viewed as the last great problem to fix, as the last step between us and organizational utopia. We have viewed people as the problem to fix, and we seek to fix problems. We have built systems of distrust constructed of endless rules, ones that are policed via mechanisms of constant surveillance, oversight, and harsh punishment for "wrongdoers." We have tried and tried to comply and punish our way to safety excellence, but it has failed us time and time again.
Not only has this distrust of our fellow humans been a driving force for our mediocre (at best) approaches to the safety of work, but it has also been a harmful negative that has inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering upon those that diligently serve our organizations. This distrust of our fellow humans, and this desire to punish those “untrustworthy” and “uncaring” humans that we believe to be causal of our problems has led us away from safety - away from learning and improving - not closer to it. It has left our workforces fearful and untrusting, devoid of the ability to be honest with the organization and unable to tell “real deal” stories about how work normally occurs, and it has left our organizations blind to vital information and learnings.
The Principles of Human & Organizational Performance (HOP)
Error is Normal
Blame Fixes Nothing
Context Drives Behaviors
Learning Is Vital
How We Respond Matters
The principles and concepts of Human and Organizational Performance move us away from these misguided and harmful beliefs. Rather than viewing people as the problem and attempting to cure our work worlds of events and problems by seeking to cure people of their humanity, HOP teaches us to embrace our fellow humans, to defer to their expertise, to learn from them, to seek to understand, and to understand that their “know-how” and knowledge is vital to the success of our organizations. Human and Organizational Performance teaches us that error is normal, that no one chooses to make a mistake, that blame fixes nothings, and that blaming only moves us away from the so needed learnings we require to improve. Allow me to circle back to the key point, Human and Organizational Performance is a fundamental shift in how we view people – people are problem solvers, and we must create systems of trust so that they can do just that.
One of the first jabs at Human and Organizational Performance that many leaders take, especially those more comfortable with very vertical "command and control" styles of management, is that it is “too fluffy,” “too squishy,” or “too soft,” but nothing could be further from the truth. As a close friend, one who is a high-level leader in the utility space once shared with me, “Human and Organizational Performance lets me hear the raw and the real – that is what I need to make better decisions as a leader.”
Human and Organizational Performance is not about the squishy bits, it’s not about being fluffy or soft, HOP is about getting down to the nitty gritty and digging into “raw and real” conversations and learnings. There is nothing squishy or soft about an employee sharing with you their near-death experiences. There is nothing fluffy about hearing the story of a worker who amputated their finger but was forced to choose between reporting the event and getting medical attention or seeking medical care on their own so that they could keep their job. The learnings and conversations that Human and Organizational Performance will bring about within your organization will be the rawest and realest conversations you have ever experienced.
By investing in HOP, organizations can unlock higher levels of productivity among their workforce. When individuals are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources, they become more efficient and effective in their roles. HOP emphasizes continuous learning and improvement, empowering employees to engage, be vocal, and teach us where we can improve.
Improved Safety and Risk Management
Safety is a critical aspect of any organization, especially in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. HOP places a strong emphasis on proactive safety measures and risk management via learning about work normally occurs. HOP encourages employees to teach us where things go well, where things are brittle or nearing failure, and about the true nature of events when things go sideways. This focus on safety not only protects employees but also helps organizations avoid costly legal battles, damage to reputation, and potential disruptions in operations.
Empowered and Engaged Workforce
When individuals feel valued and empowered within an organization, their level of engagement increases significantly. HOP fosters a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees are encouraged to contribute their ideas, take ownership of their work, and participate in decision-making processes. This empowerment leads to higher levels of employee satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile, collaborate effectively, and contribute innovative solutions, ultimately driving organizational success.
Stronger Organizational Culture
HOP plays a pivotal role in shaping and reinforcing a positive organizational culture. It emphasizes open communication, transparency, and collaboration. HOP encourages the breaking down of silos and the creation of cross-functional teams, fostering a collaborative culture where information and knowledge are shared freely. A strong organizational culture built on HOP principles cultivates a sense of belonging, loyalty, and collective achievement.
Agility and Adaptability
In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations must be agile and adaptable to thrive. HOP enables organizations to cultivate a growth mindset and a culture of continuous improvement. By encouraging individuals to embrace change, learn from failures, and adapt to new circumstances, organizations can navigate uncertainty and seize emerging opportunities. HOP fosters innovation, creativity, and a willingness to challenge the status quo, enabling organizations to stay ahead of the competition.
Human and Organizational Performance is not merely a buzzword but a strategic approach that can unlock the true potential of organizations. By investing in HOP, organizations can reap numerous benefits, including enhanced productivity, improved safety, an empowered workforce, a stronger organizational culture, and greater agility. Embracing HOP is a long-term commitment that requires leadership support, investment in training and development, and - most importantly - a shift in mindset and assumptions. However, the rewards are substantial, resulting in a high-performing organization capable of adapting and thriving in today's dynamic business environment.
The benefits of Human and Organizational Performance extend well beyond safety. In fact, if you seek to contain Human and Organizational Performance to safety alone, you are drastically minimizing your investment. Human and Organizational Performance increases you ability to learn and improve in all facets of your business.
I work with clients throughout industry - providing services to organizations operating in manufacturing, healthcare, construction, oil & gas, mining, power generation, utilities, and more - focusing on operationalizing HOP and creating sustainability along the way.
I would love to be your trusted Human & Organizational Performance resource and advisor.
What people are saying...
"Sam Goodman is a compressed gas cylinder that falls off the back of a moving truck when the cap pops off and launches. Passion, intensity, purpose, and expertise!"
"Sam offers flexibility, passion, and know-how to help your organization begin, or go further on its HOP journey..."
"Sam takes the time to understand our unique challenges and provides tailored solutions that have had a significant impact on our performance..."
"I highly recommend Sam's services to anyone seeking to get better at organizational learning and improvement..."
So, if you are looking for a trusted advisor to help you bring HOP to life within your organization, need help with learning teams, or are looking for someone to help you take your organizations efforts around learning and improving to the next level…
Some areas I commonly help with:
- HOP Fundamentals
- Learning Team Facilitation
- Learning Team Facilitator Coaching
- Speaking & Workshops
- Site Engagements
- Pre/Post-Event Learning Reviews
- Learning Explorations & Pulsing
- Ongoing Support and Advisement
- & More!
Let's get started!
Owner & HOP Consultant
The HOP Nerd, LLC
About the Author
Sam Goodman is the founder and independent Human and Organizational Performance practitioner of The HOP Nerd LLC. He is the author of multiple books focused on Human & Organizational Performance, the safety of work, and the safety profession, and the host and producer of The HOP Nerd Podcast. Sam is an experienced safety and HOP practitioner, accomplished author, passionate speaker, and respected consultant and coach.
With extensive experience in the field, Sam has worked with a diverse range of industries, including commercial nuclear generation, utilities, construction, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, transportation, and more. He has collaborated with numerous organizations to operationalize and embed HOP principles and techniques.
In addition to his consulting work, Sam is a prolific author, sharing his knowledge and insights through various publications. His latest book, the best-selling "10 Ideas to Make Safety Suck Less," has become a vital resource for professionals in the HOP field.
Sam offers the flexibility, passion, and know-how to help your organization begin, or go further on its HOP journey.