Gilberts BEM

While working at a recent client, I recently overheard some people in the HR department talk about this cool thing called Gilberts Behavior Engineering Model, so I thought to myself, I should look into this. So I came across this article, and it was definately worth a read for those in Instructional Design and Change Management circles.

Basically, this guy Thomas Gilbert created a model for performance consulting known as the Behavior Engineering model (BEM). The name “Behavior Engineering” conjures up a science fiction tableau of bending workers to a corporate will. Seems like the premise is respect for individuals and the value they bring to organizations, a value that needs to be engrained into most companies I think. From what I read, it seems that Gilbert recognized that workplace performance usually requires both individual and environmental interventions. The BEM provides 6 categories for investigating all of the factors impacting performance. The 6 categories are split between 2 larger categories, Environmental (external factors in the environment) and Individual (internal factors to the worker). I have listed and explained these below:

Environmental Factors

  • Data – This category is all about standards and feedback on performance. This category asks if workers truly know what is expected from their performance and if they are getting the right amount or type of feedback on performance.
  • Instruments – This category is all about the tools they use to perform their job. In this category, we ask questions about the efficiency of the systems or other types of tools they use for performing their jobs and factors in the work environment that might be impacting performance (lighting, ergonomics, etc.).
  • Incentives – In this category, we should ask if the workers are provided with the right incentives to do their jobs. Remember, this may be factors beyond just how much they are paid, and keep in mind that different workers are motivated in different ways.

Individual Factors

  • Knowledge – For this category, we ask if the workers have been trained properly and if they have the knowledge needed to do the job. If the answer is no, then training may be the solution, or at least part of the solution. If they have the knowledge needed, then we would look to the other factors and intervention types to solve the issue.
  • Capacity – Capacity looks at innate ability to do the job. Here, we look at any individual physical or mental limitations that might exist in workers that would keep them from performing.
  • Motivation – In the motivation category, we look at workers’ internal motivation to perform. For instance, are individuals willing to work under the conditions provided by the organization? Do they want to do the tasks of the role they are in?

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