Performance improvement is a process involving a series of steps. Each step is an essential piece for reaching the desired productive outcome. The first set of steps involves the key stakeholders in the organization. They will determine the desired levels of performance (if not already determined). The next set of steps involves measuring the individual’s actual performance against the desired results and then analyzing the root cause(s) of the performance gap. That segment is followed by collaboration session with the individual to select interventions and create a plan for implementation of those interventions. It is also important in that stage to get agreement on the incremental improvement levels within a specific time frame. The final set of steps involves monitoring and evaluating the performance then providing constructive feedback on that performance.
The first step is to determine what the desired performance is. As part of this step;
After the desired performance is determined, it will need to be defined and describe so that all individuals can definitely determine if they are meet. Therefore, define desired performance in specific, observable and measurable terms. These should address the overall performance including seemingly contradictory outcomes which may need to be balanced such as speed and accuracy or quantity and quality.
Goals and expectations that are vague (e.g. “provide better customer service”, or “be a better ball handler”) do not provide the necessary benchmark for individuals. It is essential to have objective measurable outcomes (e.g. make 80% of free throws, sell 25 units per month). Avoid subjective measurements such as “provide great service” or “make a good presentation.” This way the individual and the organization can definitely determine if the expectations are met, and if not met, they are able to determine exactly how far they are from achieving the desired results.
After the desired performance is defined, the next step is assessing the individual performance in relation to the desired performance. First, describe the desired performance and expectations for that individual. Individuals within a group may have different performance expectations based on their ability, position, knowledge, or other factors. Ensure that the individual understands what the desired performance is and that they understand the expectations set for them.
Once expectations are established, current levels of performance should be assessed using the same indicators developed to describe the desired performance. Identifying actual performance levels creates a baseline for performance improvement.
Once the desired and actual levels of performance have been determined, identify the performance gaps. The gap should be described using the same measurable indicators that were used to describe desired and actual performance. It is important to have discussions with the individual to clearly identify for them the gap between actual performance and desired performance. It is necessary that they are aware of the gap and how large or small the gap may be. It is also imperative to impress upon the individual the importance of achieving the desired outcomes as well as the possible ramifications of not achieving those results.
Once performance gaps have been discussed, the next step is to determine the cause of those gaps. Using the Performance Factors Checklist determine the factors that are adversely affecting performance.
After analyzing the root cause(s), select interventions that will address those root causes (e.g. if a person needs additional knowledge then provide training). Each intervention or set of interventions should address at least one root cause. Interventions can include such things as training, new equipment, or coaching. Often times a series of interventions are necessary. It may also be necessary to place the interventions in sequential order to ensure that they are used most efficiently.
Collaboratively set initial, intermediate, and final target levels of performance. Performance improvement is typically a gradual process. Therefore, set increasing benchmarks over a period of time (e.g. sell 18 units first month, 21 units second month and 24 by the third month).
This collaborative effort in planning the strategy to achieve desired performance levels is vital for achieving the desired results. The individual must buy into the plan to achieve the maximum results in the fastest time. If the individual does not buy into the plan and does not take ownership for their improvement, the desired outcomes will not come in the most efficient time frame or may never come at all.
Begin to apply the intervention(s) to the process. Ensure all implementations agreed upon are initiated and utilized correctly (i.e. if you agreed on providing better tools, make sure they are received and are being utilized correctly). Also, make sure the interventions are in the correct sequential order.
Periodically monitor and evaluate the performance. Monitoring happens on an ongoing basis so that changes in implementation can be made as needed. The final evaluation should measure the performance gaps and assess the extent to which they have closed as a result of the interventions.
After the performance has been evaluated, provide positive constructive feedback to the individual. Positive feedback that is specific and which can be implemented into the individual’s performance will help ensure the desired outcomes are reached. Negative feedback will de-motivate the individual and detour from the overall progress. If the feedback is not specific and can not be easily implemented (i.e. “you need to provide better service”), the individual may not understand what exactly needs to be done and will become frustrated.
This final stage of the process is a continuous looping process; meaning it takes continuous evaluating, coaching, and feedback to reach the desired outcomes.
The Peak Performance Center