Performance Improvement Strategies that WORK

March 6, 2020 2:03 pm || || Categorized in:

How Key Performer Interviews can help determine root causes for your performance issues and help you develop intentional improvement strategies that work.


As previously discussed, there are many factors at play when it comes to how well people do their jobs.

But how can we uncover those influences and drill down into the true root cause(s) for performance issues?

One way is to actually talk to the people doing the work.

When interviewing workers in a human performance project, we generally ask to speak with two groups of workers: key performers and average performers.

A key performer is someone who does the task in question significantly better than the mean, or average worker.

An average performer is someone who is on par with the mean performance of the group.

For a visual representation of this concept:


Our objective is to determine what enables the key performers to succeed. What is different about this population that causes them to vastly outperform their peers? With this information, we can determine the influences on the behavior and develop interventions that may shift overall performance to match the company’s goals.

Let’s see how this approach can be applied to a real-life example:

Company X has two shifts of manufacturing associates who work in the parts wash, preparation, and autoclave rooms.

Recently the VP-manufacturing has noticed that the average time to complete wash-prep-autoclave activities has increased. This has resulted in a longer turnaround time and fewer lots filled per month.


The electronic batch record data shows that several workers in the evening shift can accomplish the wash-prep-autoclave tasks in less than half of the time that the average day shift worker takes to finish the same tasks. The company would like to see a reduction in the overall wash-prep-autoclave time per batch. How can this be accomplished?


In this example, the key performers are those select individuals working the evening shift. The average performers work the day shift.

After completing our interviews and gathering other data, we make the following observations:

  • The evening shift’s manager is almost always out on the floor with the staff, helping to solve problems as they arise.
  • The day shift’s manager is tied up in meetings most of the day. The manager communicates with team members through a radio.
  • The evening shift holds a 20-minute pre-shift meeting every day during which they map out the evening’s tasks on a whiteboard, and schedule tasks to minimize downtime.
  • The evening shift plans for completing required administrative tasks during any unavoidable downtime, such as during the first 2-hour wash cycle.
  • The day shift completes administrative tasks first individually before going into the cleanroom.
  • The day shift completes wash, preparation, and autoclave activities sequentially, load by load.
  • The day shift has to participate in company-wide meetings and required classroom training at least once a week.
  • Hot lunch for day shift is only served during the hours of 11 am – 1 pm.
  • The cafeteria does not serve meals for the evening shift. Employees can purchase meals to heat up in the microwave at any time using the automated kiosks.
  • Day shift employees call in sick more often than night shift employees.

Using this information, what might this company do to reduce the average wash-prep-autoclave time? Leave your intervention ideas in the comments.