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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Blackman

Performance Diagnostics

There may be times when reviewing performance data suggests an intervention should be put in place for an employee. Thankfully, there is literature on assessments to conduct for employees to determine the function of the deficit or excess. It isn’t always that they need more training! This installment covers the different types of performance diagnostics and the most commonly used in human services settings.

In 2000, Austin published an article that discussed the diagnostic algorithm. The diagnostic algorithm is where questions are answered to generate a hypothesis of what the function of the behavior may be. To my knowledge, no empirical evidence exists for this assessment.

In 2004, Daniels and Daniels discussed the PIC/NIC analysis. The PIC/NIC analysis is where questions are answered and then the consequent events are classified into positive, negative, immediate, future, certain, and uncertain. Due to the name of the analysis, consequences should be positive or negative, immediate, and certain. This is more of a philosophical analysis of the contingencies controlling behavior.

In 2000, Austin published the Performance Diagnostic Checklist (PDC) which is an informant-based assessment. It consists of 20 questions that are answered with a yes or a no response. To date, this is the only assessment (as well as it’s variations) in the literature for employees that has empirical support.

A variation of the PDC, called the Performance Diagnostic Checklist - Human Services (PDC-HS), is used most often in human service settings. The PDC-HS was developed by Carr and colleagues in 2013. The PDC-HS is a 20 question assessment where interviewees answer questions with a yes or no response. The four categories that questions span are training; task clarification and prompting; resources, materials, and processes; and consequences, effort, and competition. The data gathered in the interview are often graphed as a percentage of questions answered no. In most published studies the supervisor is interviewed to learn more about the employee performance deficit. However, in practice it may be helpful to interview those with the deficit directly to gain access to more relevant information.

Here is the PDC-HS to view and download.

Below is an example of how to graph the percentage of no responses.


Austin, J. (2000). Performance analysis and performance diagnostics. In J. Austin & J. E. Carr (Eds.), Handbook of applied behavior analysis (pp.321-349). Context Press.

Daniels, A. C., & Daniels, J. E. (2004). Performance management: Changing behavior the drives organizational effectiveness. Performance Management Publications.

Carr, J. E., & Wilder, D. A. (2016). The Performance Diagnostic Checklist - Human Services: A correction. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 9, 63.

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