11 Human Performance Tools To Consider Using

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Some jobs require employees to work in potentially hazardous conditions, whether by operating large machinery or because of the work environment itself. To lessen the possibility of potential work-related incidents, you can use human performance tools. These tools are methods that employees use in varying jobs to complete their work quickly and safely. In this article, we discuss what human performance tools are and provide a list of 11 tools you can use at work.

Related: How To Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

What are human performance tools?

Human performance tools are strategies people use often in jobs related to construction, supply chain, electrical utility and more to help maintain a safe working environment and to enable employees to efficiently complete their daily tasks. When employees use these tools, they are more likely to understand how to safely and correctly do their work, ask questions when they're unsure about something and work more effectively as a team. Employers and employees often use human performance tools when operating heavy machinery, performing tests on equipment and inputting important information into a computer.

Related: 27 Well Paid Dangerous Jobs

11 human performance tools

There are 11 human performance tools you can use at work depending on the situation, including:

1. Pre-job briefing

Supervisors and employees use pre-job briefing to ensure that the supervisor and their employees understand the full scope of the work they're performing. They do this by reviewing the step-by-step procedures of the work for the day and the potential hazards associated with it. After they're aware of any risks, they collaborate on ways to avoid any possible accidents. After the discussion, they collectively determine if they can complete the job safely.

When completing a pre-job briefing, consider the following suggestions:

  • Ensure all members are active participants in the discussion so it's clear they all understand the procedures and potential dangers.

  • Meet in a quiet location, so distractions are minimal.

  • Keep the meeting brief.

Related: 11 Meeting Etiquette Rules

2. Two-minute rule

After completing the pre-job briefing, they can complete the two-minute rule, which involves workers taking a few minutes before beginning their job to become more familiar with their surroundings. During this time, they can detect any hazardous conditions they didn't anticipate during the briefing.

To complete the two-minute rule, you can do the following:

  • Explore the job site for two minutes by walking around the work area to identify the various equipment and any possible industrial safety hazards.

  • During this time, determine if there are any work conditions that are inconsistent with the ones discussed during the briefing.

  • If there are any concerns, talk with coworkers or your supervisor and what extra precautions you can take when working.

3. Three-way communication

Employees use three-way communication when they're exchanging directions face-to-face or via telephone or radio to ensure the person receiving the directions understands what the sender is saying. It provides a mutual understanding of the task they're discussing and can help prevent accidents or unwanted results. In addition to using this tool to provide and receive directions, they also use it to discuss the status of equipment.

Here are some steps to successfully use this human performance tool:

  1. The person sending the directive can begin by clearly stating their message to the receiver.

  2. Next, the receiver paraphrases the message but includes all specific data and equipment names exactly as the sender stated it.

  3. Finally, the sender acknowledges that the sender's response is correct.

Related: 7 C's of Effective Communication

4. Phonetic alphabet

The phonetic alphabet involves assigning each letter of the alphabet a word that starts with that letter so that people can more easily understand the letters the sender says. For example, many companies assign the word "Alpha" to the letter A and "Bravo" to the letter B. It can be helpful to use the phonetic alphabet when communicating alpha-numeric information or if the sender thinks the receiver may misunderstand the letters they're verbally saying. Not all businesses use the same alphabet, so it's important to check with your company to ensure you refer to the one they use.

Here's an example of how you can use the phonetic alphabet:

  • The sender wants to provide the letters of an equipment label, "CFL," over the phone to the receiver.

  • The sender would say to the receiver, "Charlie. Foxtrot. Lima."

  • The receiver would then repeat the letters back to the sender to make sure they wrote down the correct letters.

5. Procedure use and adherence

Procedure use refers to the person referencing the steps in the procedure as they complete it. Procedure adherence applies to following the directions of the procedure. Employees use this human performance tool when they're completing procedures that involve the use of large equipment or executing physical work.

Here are the steps to effectively apply procedure use and adherence:

  1. Review the prerequisites, conditions and steps of the procedure before beginning.

  2. Follow the directions of the procedure while maintaining its intended purpose.

  3. Sign-off after completing each step of the procedure.

  4. Stop the task if the directions of the procedure are incorrect or seem as if they are going to result in damaging the equipment if performed.

6. Place keeping

Place keeping can mark the steps in a procedure so that employees don't omit or repeat steps accidentally. It can be helpful when completing a technical or very specific procedure, such as operating heavy machinery or working in a power plant. Place keeping also leaves a record of who completed each procedure and when they completed if there is a need to review it later.

Below are the basic steps used when using this performance tool:

  1. During the pre-job briefing, mark any important steps of each procedure you are going to perform.

  2. Before beginning, read the steps and ensure you understand each one.

  3. Perform each step as you see it written.

  4. As you complete the steps, sign off with your initials, time and date.

7. Self-checking

Employees in various industries can use self-checking when performing skills-based tasks that they perform often and rarely think about when completing. They can self check before they begin a task by concentrating on what they're about to do followed by each consequent step in the process. If they're uncertain of a step, they can speak to a coworker or supervisor for clarification before proceeding. When self-checking, employees often use the acronym STAR, which stands for Stop, Think, Act and Review.

Here are the steps you can follow when self-checking at work:

  1. Stop: Pause before performing the task.

  2. Think: Focus on the step you're about to do. Think about the results you expect to occur from completing the task and what you plan to do if something unexpected happens while you're doing it.

  3. Act: Perform the task.

  4. Review: Make sure the expected result occurred.

8. First check

Employees use first check to determine whether they're in the right location and working on the correct equipment before they begin working on a task alone. It helps ensure the safety of the employee and others their work might affect.

To complete a first check and verify that you're using the proper piece of equipment, here are the steps employees generally follow:

  1. Contact the control room or dispatch facility to validate your location. You can give them the information on your operational document to confirm.

  2. After confirming your planned actions and location with dispatch, you can begin the task your supervisor assigned.

9. Stop when unsure

When people have questions regarding a task they plan on completing or are unfamiliar with the duty they're about to perform, they can use this tool. When questions arise, they can ask questions from whoever has the most knowledge about the task, whether that's a supervisor or coworker.

To complete this tool, consider using the following steps:

  1. When you begin to get confused, stop the work you're doing.

  2. Put the equipment you're using in a safe location.

  3. Find an experienced colleague that is qualified to help answer your question.

  4. If necessary, inform your supervisor.

  5. Proceed when you are familiar and knowledgeable about the task.

10. Peer checking

Peer checking involves one employee asking their peer for their opinion on the task they're about to complete. Both peers self check the situation to ensure the performer of the task is doing it correctly. It can be a useful tool when controlling components that look similar or when an error is likely to occur during the critical steps of the procedure.

If you're interested in using peer checking, here are the steps you can use:

  1. Use three-way communication to discuss and agree on the correct actions to take.

  2. Then, they each take time to self-check that the performer is using the correct component.

  3. The performer then performs the action that both peers confirmed as being correct. The peer watches the performer complete the step and verifies that they did it correctly.

11. Post-job review

After employees complete a job, they can provide feedback so that supervisors can assess whether the planning and briefings were effective. Post job reviews can be useful for more hazardous jobs, but some supervisors use them for low hazard jobs as well.

Here are the steps involved in completing a post-job review:

  1. Ensure that each person that was involved in the pre-job briefing takes part in the review.

  2. The person who led the briefing then conducts the review.

  3. The person conducting the review can get feedback from employees verbally or in a written format.

  4. They then review and document the results of the feedback so they can review them at a later date, if needed.

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