One of the most common question I get asked by managers when they talk to me about poor performers is WHY are my people performing poorly?
There’s a simple model I use that helps us diagnose great performance. It’s called the 3-Legged Stool of Great Performance™.
In a three-legged stool model, all legs must be in place or you fall on your ass. Great performance has three legs too. Here they are in no particular order:
Skill. The first thing you need to ask if you start performing poorly is if you even know what you’re doing. Skills are the “how-tos” of any task. They are built through training. Training is the only thing that can fix a skill problem. If you don’t know what you’re doing, have somebody train you.
Will. Will becomes an issue when you KNOW what and how to do something, you just don’t WANT to do it. It’s expressed in boredom, procrastination, apathy, and lethargy. The only way to fix a will problem is motivation. When you get WHAT you need WHEN you need it, you’ll be motivated. It could be a hug or it could be a threat. By the way, training won’t work on a will problem. Forget the classes on “how to deal with change” or worse, any type of sensitivity training. That’s a complete waste of time and money.
Focus. Focus becomes an issue when you know how to do something and really want to do it, but something holds you back. It could be minor things like not communicating effectively in an organization, ignoring or violating established norms, or not completely understanding the politics. Focus problems are fixed by coaching and mentoring. Coaching is telling you how to get back in focus and mentoring is setting the example to follow.
If you or the people who report to you aren’t performing well, it’s time to consider the three aspects of great performance. Diagnose well and be sure to treat the real problem. It’s the only way to ensure long term success.