Saturday, October 20, 2007

Identifying Performance Problems

In most organizations, it's essential that employees maintain certain performance standards in order for the department to meet its quotas.

When quotas are not met, you must determine why. What are the reasons for poor performance that you must understand?

There are a number of reasons for poor performance. You'll approach these reasons from three different perspectives:
  • the reasons for performance problems
  • the elements of performance
  • the attitude behind performance.
The reasons for performance problems
Most performance difficulties arise for four different reasons. These reasons are explained below:
  • Employees' lack of knowledge prevents them from knowing what to do.
  • Employees lack the aptitude to do what is required of them and therefore are not capable of completing tasks.
  • Excessive interferences from processes, people, or technology can create a situation where employees are not allowed to do what is required of them.
  • Finally, some performance problems are caused by employees refusing to do what's required of them. When there are no safety issues involved, this is usually a result of attitude problems.
The elements of performance
When you discover performance problems, what are you actually measuring these results against? There are seven elements of performance that help you target employees' achievements. These elements of performance are:
  1. Goals: What do they need to achieve?
  2. Standards: How are their achievements quantified?
  3. Feedback: Do they have the guidance they need?
  4. Competence: Have we properly trained them?
  5. Opportunity: Do they have chances for advancement?
  6. Means: Do they have the tools to do their job?
  7. Motive: Do they have good reasons to want to do this?
A useful tool for analyzing performance is to chart the reasons for performance problems against the elements of performance. This can help you figure out how to specifically address each performance problem.

The attitude behind performance
Attitudes are often part of vicious cycles in which an attitude provides a mental excuse to behave in a certain way. Quite often, this behavior creates a result that reinforces the original attitude.

Attitudes are not always easy to change because they can come from so many different sources. Some are brought to work by employees, and some are formed as a result of things that happen in the work setting. The following provide more about the source of attitudes:
  • personal background
  • self-esteem
  • prior experience
  • unclear goals
  • poor feedback
  • lack of recognition
  • nature of the work
  • inadequate compensation.
Consider the principal causes for performance problems for addressing the problem areas in your workplace.

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