by Jay Bransford
Let’s face it… we’ve all experienced disappointments with people. We expect certain things from them, and it just doesn’t happen. Whether these disappointments happen at home, at school, at work, or in a ministry setting, we often refer to these kinds of situations as “performance problems”.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Matthew 7:12
Can leaders control the performance of their staff? Absolutely not! But good leaders certainly can influence their staff in ways that encourage long-term high performance, effectiveness and holistic health. Let’s look at a few possible ways here…
When you see a performance problem with someone, whether it’s your child, co-worker, or staff, what’s generally the first thing that pops into your mind about the cause of the problem? Or in other words, where do you normally place the blame for the problem? If you’re like me, you’re likely to assume that the cause of the problem is the person who is not performing. Maybe you assume he has an attitude problem, or that he’s lazy, or that he’s not competent. Have you ever drawn those conclusions about people? I have. And unfortunately, I’m often NOT right! In fact, 80% of the time undesired performance is due to factors outside of the person.
What are the factors that influence performance? This article focuses on 4 key factors affecting performance: (1) The Performer, (2) The Situation, (3) Feedback, and (4) Consequences. But before we consider those factors for any given performance problem, we must first define the performance we are talking about. To do so, we ask two simple questions:
- What is the observed performance in the person or group?
- How does that performance compare with our expectations?
The answers to those two questions should give us helpful insight into evaluating each of the 4 key factors affecting performance.
Our goal now is to determine which of the 4 key factors are affecting performance, and thus how we can make adjustments in those areas. Like any good coach, we need to ask good questions to analyze the 4 factors influencing human performance. We not only need to answer those questions ourselves, but often get the perspectives of the person (or group) who has the performance problem. Here are some questions to consider:
- How capable is the person to meet our expectations? Does she have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform? (Note: if you have ever seen the person perform this task well, then it is NOT likely to be a knowledge and skill problem.)
- Does the person understand WHY the performance is important or necessary? If not, he may not make it a priority.
- Is the person well suited for the job/task? Does it match her gifting and passion?
- Have you defined and communicated performance expectations with the person that are clear and measurable?
- Does the person agree that your expectations are reasonable?
- Is it clear to the person WHEN he is supposed to perform this activity?
- Does the person receive all the necessary information, time, money, tools and other resources necessary to successfully perform?
- Does the person face any competing priorities for her time?
- Does the workspace around the person support effective performance? (Think spiritual climate, temperature, lighting, noise, interruptions, comfort.)
- Does the person receive timely, specific and relevant feedback about his performance?
- Does the person receive feedback often enough to maintain or enhance performance?
- Is feedback communicated in a positive, non-threatening way?
- Are appropriate consequences provided timely and consistently?
- Are the consequences significant enough to the person to influence her behavior?
- Do sufficient positive consequences exist which encourage the desired behavior?
- Consider an actual performance problem you face with someone, even your own failed performance!
- Answer all of the questions above honestly and to the best of your ability, and make sure to ask the person who has the performance problem for her input, as well.
- Identify which areas of this performance model are in need of improving.
- Determine what actions you will take to influence the performance situation.
Congratulations! You are now empowered to be even more affective in influencing others.