Practitioner Spotlight: James D. Newman – Are you looking to hire a Human Performance Practitioner?

James_D. NewmanDoes your organization need a fresh look at Human Performance? How satisfied are you with your current Human Performance Training Program? Is your Observation program being effective? Could you use an expert on measuring and improving performance in your organization?

James D. Newman is the answer to your problem. This post is spotlighting this site’s main author and creator.

Why is James any different than anyone else?

To sum up what makes James unique, he is dedicated and experienced.

James is a committed father with a vast background of interests.  He has worked primary and secondary systems at BWR and PWR nuclear power plants, has been a mobile Disc Jockey since he was 16, was a lead singer for a few rock bands, and has also built robots for competition.

He currently mentors college students and other HU practitioners, offers HU and Knowledge Transfer improvements as a keynote speaker at conferences and training venues, develops poster presentations and designs websites, actively participates in professional organizations (ASTD and NA-YGN), creates and teaches courses for thousands of nuclear workers and leadership, and is an author and podcast host—all while pursuing higher education.

Personal philosophy

The most frequent question I am asked is, “Where do I find the time?” There are usually a few hours left daily after the kids go to bed to research and make phone calls or e-mails. The rest of it is carefully fit into my life’s schedule. If you care about something enough, you make the time.

Always give the person you’re interviewing following an event the benefit of the doubt—there is a great chance the error he or she made is not the cause for the problem, but more the consequence of a deeper problem.

As an HU Practitioner, never be a full-time Root Cause team member because it takes away from your other full-time responsibilities to other priorities at the station. Instead, offer to check in at a regular frequency to help with human performance issues and interviews.

Always consider tapping into your network of contacts and associates when you’re questioning a process or criterion.

When designing training, always use ADDIE and make sure your evaluation process is challenging and significant.

Use the best software available to track, trend, and report issues and observations.

Why are you leaving your dream job?

Based on life changes, I will be moving to MA/RI/CT area within the next few months (after acquiring a stable position). My extended family lives in the tri-state area, so this means I am currently looking for a Human Performance position where I can live and work from. I am willing to travel, but not willing to spend weeks away from my children. The ideal location would be the area between Springfield, Boston, and Providence, but I would consider nearby options.

A little more about me

I’m 41 and have been working in commercial nuclear power since I was 19. I started right out of a Nuclear Engineering Technology degree program as a contracting junior mechanic and quickly transferred in-house into Instrument & Controls where I spent 15 years performing all aspects of a technician’s work – Surveillances, Preventative Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Corrective Maintenance and new installations from all areas of the plant to the Control Room. In 2007 I was chosen as the stations full-time Human Performance Coordinator. In 2010 I took that experience to another nuclear station as I started my Workforce Education Development degree over 1500 miles away. For nearly 18 months I flew back and forth on weekends to go through an amazing program while fully taking advantage of the long weekends offered by working four 10-hour days.

For the past 4 years I’ve been developing and implementing training, surveys, reports, and metrics while building an amazing world-wide network of Performance Improvement and Training professionals. Last year in May, I started this blog and a podcast of the same name, and that has opened the network even more. One of my largest passions is to teach out of the Affective Realm – to help someone value an idea, concept, expectation or requirement. I am extremely inventive with my training technique and activity creation to make memorable topical points. I am also very passionate about having a Safety Conscious Work Environment. I have done a lot of work with the Nuclear Safety Culture Monitoring Panel at my current station, and even considered Employee Concerns as a future possibility.

In the past year along with my fulfilling work at a utility, I’ve given presentations and support to a Midwestern Transmission and Distribution company, and provided Human Performance training to multiple CEOs and Vice Presidents from various large Kansas companies. The Kansas City chapter of ASTD recognized my work by awarding me a “Best Practice” for training, and subsequent presentation of the course to the chapter. The Omaha ASTD chapter has since asked me to present there, as well. I’ve attended at my own expense Omaha’s ASSE Chapter meeting for OPPD’s presentation on a stripped down HU program, keynote addresses at ICMA conferences (Jim Collins, Amy Cuddy,  and Daniel Pink), and also the New Media Expo conference in Las Vegas to become better at blogging and podcasting.

I am looking for stability, but also looking for an opportunity to really help an organization (or consultant firm helping organizations) with my experience, creativity, motivation and attitude. I also bring my valuable team of industry friends and contacts for benchmarking at a moment’s notice.

Click here for a Power Point presentation I gave to the Young Professionals Congress in 2007.

Some Prezis I’ve put together:

Leveraging Blogs and Podcasts for Human Performance Training (Built for a poster presentation at INPO’s Human Performance Conference I was asked to give in September 2013)

Awesome Podcast Content (My favorite Human Performance Podcasts)

The Me (A compilation of work I’ve been doing and tools used. One of my SIU Professors asked me to present in October 2013 to a WED class what work in this field could be like. This was 1550 miles away from my home on my own time and budget.)

Note that some of my training products will be posted in ebook form in the near future for a cost through this site.

Contacting me

Click here for my LinkedIn profile where you can find my resume and more about me. If you are not a LinkedIn member, please email me for a resume.

If you would like to contact me about a Human Performance position or opportunity, please email me directly at or call me after 5pm EST 860-917-5768.

A note for returning HU Tool blog readers

There is a lot more to me than what this post suggests, but I recognize the readers of this blog are looking for something more than learning about the author of it. I hope you do not mind that I posted about myself, instead of a different topic. At this time, all of the costs for operating the blog and podcasts have been my own, so I feel comfortable using it to leverage potential opportunities that may not be discovered otherwise. Thank you for your continued support. Every email I recelive that says thanks for authoring this blog means a lot to me.

Please stay tuned – I have been compiling upcoming posts on:

  • INPO’s Cumulative Impact document reactions
  • Preventing disasters
  • Decision making
  • Leadership alignment


Knowledge Transfer part 2: Should this job have a Post-Job Brief/Critique?

Click here for videoOne of the most important, yet rarely used human performance tool for ensuring knowledge transfer to the next performance of a similar task is the Post-Job Critique. An operator friend of mine in the commercial nuclear power industry said it’s like a “Yeti” – we’re pretty sure they are out there, but nobody has ever actually seen one.

Isn’t it funny that after much time passes, you can still learn a different way to apply a familiar philosophy? I stumbled upon a new acronym recently… well, new to me – I’ve been in commerical nuclear power for 22+ years and I have been in hundreds of Post-Job Critiques (also commonly referred to as Post-Job Briefs), but I have never heard of this one before. The point of this acroynm is to come to a decision as to whether or not to hold a formal Post-Job Critique. The acronym for this is “CLEAR.”


The job lead can use the acronym “CLEAR” when determining if a Post-Job Critique is needed.  If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then perform one:

Changes Needed. Do the procedure or work instructions need to be revised prior to the next performance?

Lessons Learned. Are there lessons learned or improvement opportunities that should be recorded or passed along?

Errors Left uncorrected. Did conditions exist that if left uncorrected could lead to a human error the next time this task is performed?

Adequate Resources. Were the resources such that schedules, tools, materials, people, training and support adequate to support the task?

Results Not expected. Was the task completed with unexpected results?

Okay, we know when to do one but what exactly is a Post-Job Critique?

Simply put, Post-Job Critiques are a process to evaluate task performance and provide feedback for lessons learned. This feedback can be documented in various ways.

Progress Energy has a procedure that states: A Post-Job Critique is a formal gathering attended by persons involved in the task to capture lessons learned items to be improved upon, and identify any necessary corrective actions.

My favorite and most complete definition comes from INPO’s site: Post-Job Critiques provide an early opportunity to inform management about weaknesses in processes, programs, policies and so forth that can adversely affect engineering activity defenses and barriers. An effective post-job critique can identify lessons learned to improve future task performance and is a key tool for any organization interested in continuous learning. A post-job critique identifies what went right so it can be replicated in future activities. Post-job critiques should be used for the following, but not limited to, after the completion of project level work, after each high-risk phase of a risk important project, and at the conclusion of emergent work.

What are the products of an effective Post-Job Critique?

1.    Lessons Learned

2.    Follow-up Actions

3.    Improved Experience

All of these equate to practical application of Knowledge Transfer.

When it is required to conduct a Post-Job Critique?

  1. If the answer to any CLEAR question is YES then conduct a detailed Post-job Critique (as stated above)
  2. Required for all medium and high risk activities as defined by your station
  3. If intrusive or non-normal surveillance work was performed on certain pre-identified plant systems (this should be part of the automatic work process and not left up to the decision of the workers – too much to remember otherwise).

How can someone tell that a Post-Job Critique happened? What typical places does it get documented?

This certainly can vary from job to job abd site to site, but Work Orders sometime have a planner feedback form in them, or it can be written into the “Work Performed” section. When I was an I&C tech, we used to update the Work History folder on a particular loop or component, and we used a Word document form we called a “Canned Brief” to use as a briefing tool for the next time that job was performed. I will write more about this in the future.

Like with all Human Performance Tools, we need to be intentional and use a graded approach to conducting Post-Job Critiques and ensure knowledge from lessons learned is effectively being transferred to the next similar job performance.

Related LINKS:

Post Job Critique PDF Worksheet from

Post-Job Review Guide from Los Alamos National Laboratory

The Pre-Job Brief and Post-Job Review video  (start at 5 minutes) from Los Alamos National Laboratory

Pre-Job Briefing and Post-Job Review Guide from Project Hanford Management System

The Human Performance Toolbox from TVA (page 15 of the PDF)




Can I get some tips on behavior coaching from your HU Library?

Click me for a video

Coaching is not about reinforcing a desired behavior – Coaching is what someone says to someone else to guide then into correcting an undesired behavior. It has been well-stated that having to teach players (or workers) to unlearn bad behaviors is one of the hardest thing a sports team coach (or Supervisor) has to go through. If you are reading this blog for the first time, month’s back I wrote an article called, “Should engagement and intrinsic motivation matter to me?” – this article really adds to this content – please check it out.

Lessons from my HU library

Excerpted from Ken Blanchard’s, “The One-Minute Manager”:

“…I never attack a person’s worth or value as a person… they don’t feel they have to defend themselves. I reprimand the behavior only. Thus, my feedback and their own reaction to it is about the spefic behavior and not their feelings about themselves as human beings.”

Exerpted from Ken Blanchard’s, “The Heart of a Leader”:

“Tell the person involved exactly what he or she did wrong and how it impacted the team and the organization…next, share with the person how you feel about it… pause for a moment to let your remarks sink in, and then reaffirm your confidence in the individual.”

Excerpted from Aubrey Daniels’, “Bringing Out the Best in People”:

“People do what they do because of what happens to them when they do it… behavioral consequences are those things and events that follow a behavior and change the probability that the behavior will be repeated in the future… Consequences change the rate or frequency of the behavior.”

Excerpted from Richard Templar’s, “The Rules of Work”:

“It is never the person, it is their behavior. You never ever get personal. You can criticize:

  • The way they do their job
  • Their time keeping; their attitude
  • Their motivation
  • Their communication skills
  • Their long-term goals
  • Their focus
  • Their knowledge of office procedures
  • Their appreciation of company policy
  • Their inter-personal skills
  • Their productivity output

But you can never say they are lazy, ignorant, good for nothing…. they may need training, relocating, reeducating, redirecting, remotivating, but never being told exactly what you really, really think of them.”

Excerpted from Ferdinand Fournies’, “Coaching for Improved Work Performance”:

“Steps for coaching Technique:

  1. Get his or her agreement that a problem exists
  2. Mutually discuss alternative solutions
  3. Mutually agree on action to be taken to solve the problem
  4. Follow up to measure results
  5. Recognize any achievement when it occurs

…You must accurately identify what behavior change you desire…If the results you are obtaining from your subordinates now are not satisfactory, you have to define what the subordinate must do differently so the desired result will occur.”

Excerpted from Lou Tice’s, “Personal Coaching for Results”:

” Great coaches and mentors are so unshakeably convinced that we have great things in us-their vision of what is possible for us is so clear and powerful-they wind up convincing us, too.”

I know some of you out there are bibliophiles, as well, and if you have some coaching quotes from your books, I’m sure readers would really be interested in seeing them in the comments! Thanks!

Easter Egg heads up from James

Did you know that the little picture on each post links to a video that supports the content of the post in some way? Check it out when you have a minute – EVERY post back to the first!

Practitioner Spotlight: Have you ever heard of Safety and HU Professional, Todd Conklin?

In a search for new ways for improving Human Performance, I met a really interesting Safety/HU professional, Dr. Todd Conklin from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. So far, he has written two books that are available for purchase right now: 2012’s “Pre-Accident Investigations” and 2013’s “Simple Revolutionary Acts.” I first discovered him through an online ASSE podcast (link below), and then YouTube (links below), and then through these books I quickly ordered on Amazon. This guy gets it, and is willing to share his lessons any way he can to improve performance. He and I have been trading emails over the past year and I’m very impressed with his grasp of humans and how organizations work. I asked if he would be willing to donate some autographed copies of “Pre-Accident Investigations” for some lucky attendants of the 2013 September INPO HU Conference, and he sent some out that got lost in the mail. When I notified him I didn’t receive them, he immediately sent more out, but they arrived at my house the day of the event (which was 1500 miles way). So, I have been giving them to HU Professionals I know will read them and put them to the best use. I have one left. If you would like it, email this site a quick note about a frustration you are having at your site, and a compelling email will be chosen from the submissions. All submissions will have an opportunity to be addressed in future blogposts.


I knew I liked this guy when I saw to whom he dedicated his first book: “To everyone who has ever asked ‘how’ instead of ‘why.'” Todd is a genuine person with a lot to offer an organization trying to improve. His often-used humor is unique and you can tell by listening or watching him that he is authentic and cares about people and process improvement. What’s not unique (editor note: this is a compliment) are the situations and explanations he uses – they are relatable to everyone, crossing industries and departments. I’ve read blog comments from his posts, and I’m not the only one this guy is drawing in. Because of Dr. Conklin, I’m ready to go research successful jobs and learn something new.

About the Book:

Time-pressed, professionals looking for practical guidance to shape their current or future safety programs should use this book.

Pre-Accident Investigations: An Introduction to Organizational Safety helps to identify complex potential incidents before they take place. Based around the ‘New View’ of human error, it offers established human performance theory in a highly practical context. Written in an engaging, conversational style, around several case studies, the book is grounded in reality, with examples with which anyone can identify.

It is an ideal aid for senior safety executives who want to spread the safety message among their colleagues. It is also an excellent choice for course tutors looking for a narrative-led primer.

Thought-provoking quotes from Dr. Conklin:

“You have to look beyond procedures, you have to look beyond behaviors in order to find the reasons for success or failure…”

“Safety is the ability for workers to be able to do work in a varying and unpredictable world.”

“Safety is not the absence of failures. Safety is the presence of defenses.”

“Safety is the freedom from unacceptable risk.”

Supportive Links

Predictive Solutions Blogpost

Knowledge at Work Blogpost

Canadian Occupational Safety Blogpost

Katch Kan Ltd (Oil and Gas Industry) 2013 Safety Conference video

ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) virtual classroom Conklin podcast

PDF that semi-goes with the above Podcast can be found here (could not find actual notes)


At, we believe it is important to recognize and support the future thinkers and thought leaders in this growing field. Dr. Conklin has a busy 2014 planned out, but can be reached for keynote addresses, onsite-visits, investigations, webcasts, and for other considerations at

How do habits work and what is controlling our behavior?

HabitsIn my research habits play a large part in managing distraction. When we are distracted, we fall back on our habits, and if they aren’t well developed ones, we increase our exposure to a mishap. Let me reiterate this VERY important concept – our habits are important, because when we get distracted, we most likely will revert to our habits. We know we will be distracted by something during the course of a task, which further builds on the importance for having good habits. One way to build a good habit is by repetition – doing something the same way over and over until it becomes naturalized, which if you’ve been reading other posts of mine is the highest order of the Skill taxonomy in the Psycho-motor learning realm (Bloom’s Taxonomy.)

Check out a different blogger’s post on Duhigg’s book regarding creating habits through repetition here.

Let’s learn about Habits

From “The Power of Habit

Every habit has three parts:

  1. Cue – a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode
  2. Routine – physical, mental, or emotional
  3. Reward – determines if this loop is worth remembering for the future

The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges, and eventually, a habit is born.

Duhigg also speaks about a particluar framework to understand and control habits better:

  • Identify the routine
  • Experiment with rewards
  • Isolate the cue
  • Have a plan

Other thoughts on why humans act the way we do

I have an HU-minded friend who keeps reminding me how awesome Simon Senek’s bodies of work are and open and available on YouTube, including this video called, “Why Leaders Eat Last.”

Sinek explains the chemicals that control our brain in positive and noticeable ways, and the power they have over us and our behavior. He’s right – Sinek is phenomenal in his instruction and application – it will open your eyes to chemical processes happening within you:

Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin (as well as Cortisol) all play important parts in controlling our behavior. This video explains how they affect us, and how they control our behavior and habits.

Looking for lessons on Human Behavior?

Watch all of these amazing Simon Sinek Videos (if you’re in a position with people working for you, consider taking notes):

Why Leaders Eat Last

Love your Work

First Why and Then Trust

Start with Why