Recognizing Performance Problems

Recognizing Performance Problems is not rocket science, although fixing them however is a bit more challenging.  Yet as I have been focusing my discussions lately with managers on addressing performance problems I have been asked a single question a lot lately. 

“How do I know if there are performance problems that my managers need help with?”

The first time I came across this question I thought, really?  I instantly assumed I had screwed up the way I was positioning the concept, and backed up the discussion so far that I looked like an idiot.  It wasn’t that these folks didn’t understand what a performance problem was, but rather how to recognize if their managers were struggling with one if they didn’t ask for help.

I responded that they usually are asking, but in a more round about way.  No, most managers are not able to list all of their challenges off the top of their head (wouldn’t that be nice), but they do know the goals they are not meeting.  They know that even their best employee would be even better if they could only (fill in the blank).  And they nearly all talk out loud about issues that are challenging productivity.  One manager told me, “oh, what they whine about.”

The famous question of most consultants “what is keeping you awake at night?” is of course a great question.  I like to ask them to identify what they spend the most time on in a week trying to make work better.  What is okay now, but you wish could be rated outstanding?

If you are really comfortable, ask “what needs to change this year so you won’t lose your job?”

As a Performance Consultant I look for all the causes preventing optimal performance before creating a list of solutions.  However, before I can look at causes, I too have to recognize what the performance problem is and what our preferred level of performance needs to be.

As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the End in Mind.”


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