A Formula for Measuring Performance

A Formula for Measuring Performance

Engagement, performance and ultimately results are hugely influenced by the quality and regularity of ongoing coaching conversations between a manager and an employee. The Corporate Executive Board suggests that when employees and managers have frequent, honest, future-focused coaching conversations, engagement and business results improve by as much as 12%. The Human Capital Institute has similar findings.

During the course of coaching conversations, it is important to help employees understand what drives their engagement and performance, to understand what strengths can be leveraged and what challenges they need to prioritise.

To facilitate that understanding, a useful tool we have devised based on the work of Whetten and Cameron is the performance formula:

P = E + A + A + O

Performance is a function of: Clarity of expectations, the ability of employees to deliver on these expectations, their attitude and the opportunities they have to perform effectively. The evidence for an employee’s good or not so good performance is almost always contained within this formula.

Expectations: Employees need to be clear on what’s expected of them and to what standard. They also need to understand the contribution that they and their team are making to the strategic agenda. Without that clarity, it’s almost impossible for them to perform effectively. More often than not, this is the manager’s responsibility. Both the manager and employee need to be completely aligned.

Ability: The employee needs to have the right skills, knowledge and experience as well as the right resources and aptitude to deliver on your expectations. What have you done to support the development of competences through coaching and experiential learning? What is the quality of the people that report to them? Do they have the tools and time to deliver on expectations? Are they suited to the role with the right aptitude?

Attitude: No matter how clear an employee is on expectations or how skilled they are to deliver on them, if they don’t want to, then they won’t perform effectively. Someone with the right motivation, commitment or self-confidence will deliver. Those that don’t will struggle.

Opportunity: Employees can be clear on what’s expected, have all the ability and attitude in the world but if you don’t give them the opportunity to prove themselves, they will never perform. Have you delegated responsibility for outcomes rather than tasks? Could it be that you’ve held on to the reins of power? Have you opened doors and helped raise their profile? How visible are they to senior leaders in the organisation?

I find it useful during coaching conversations for the employee to rate their performance overall and to then rate themselves on each element of formula. Probing and teasing out the reasons for their ratings will usually identify strengths that need to be leveraged and areas for further development. Employees like it because it offers a structured and logical approach. They take ownership of the analysis and feel responsible for the outcomes. They can also use the formula to support the development of their own team members.

I have no doubt that using the performance formula enhances performance and results. Try it. My guess is you’ll get stronger employee engagement and they’ll demonstrate greater ownership of their development and performance.

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Richard McCarthy

Richard joined OMT in 1998 and is head of Consultancy Services following a 14 year international career in project management, financial control and various management development roles. Richard specialises in working with Senior and Middle Management, focusing on critical Organisational Development Initiatives such as Strategy Development & Implementation, Change Management, and the roll-out of extensive Management & Leadership Development Programmes and One to One Executive Coaching. His previous work across Europe and Africa has helped him understand the impact of organisational culture, and change on managers’ ability to deliver successful results. Richard enjoys the challenge he gets from his work, especially working with clients who face difficult strategic choices or need to develop new skills & behaviours. Richard believes the rewards are satisfying when you know you have made a meaningful contribution.

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