Creating performance is a skill. It needs to be done with intention. Leaders need to understand the process used to deliver on performance. Performance Practitioner is a level above acumen. A new leader may understand the driving performance concept but often need help to dissect it well. (They struggle to identify all the critical pieces/tactics needed to replicate results.) A true Performance Practitioner understands all the steps necessary to achieve their performance goals. Achieving performance allows for innovation and improved outcomes that bring on the next level beyond acumen.
In this case, performance is defined as an ability to behave in the same way. This includes actions and other tangible’s that can be viewed through outcomes—understanding what is repeatable and the consequence of the repeated measure. The consequence’s impact will help determine if it is positive for performance.
Consistency should be something that all leaders can view in all aspects of their business. Consistency aligns with being intentional. What is done with intention can be repeated. If it can be repeated, then there is an opportunity to collect data, evaluate, and compare results. These results can be viewed as consequences, more importantly, outcomes.
Observing consistency can be a challenge. It is essential to understand that it needs to be tangible in some way. This means observing consistency needs to be through action or behavior. Another example could be through specific touch points like meetings or business reviews.
Note: Actions and behaviors need to be clear expectations. They must be clarified if they can be defined or described in multiple ways.
Understanding what is repeatable can be difficult. However, the rule of consistency applies right back to measurement. Evaluation is critical to identifying what is working or the latter for performance. Early evaluation stages should help identify the consistent actions on each side of performance. Evaluation over time should evolve to the specifics needed to achieve performance. What is being evaluated needs to be consistent. Measuring what consistently appears or is missing in performance takes intent and planning.
Example: If observing a customer sales interaction and the identified action offers three different times, that is the measuring stick. If someone offers two times, then it would not count. It is not about almost. Evaluation should consistently establish an understanding of what brings the best outcome. This is based on an analysis that proved to offer three times led to the most favorable results.
Leaders can use what they discover about consistency to compare results. Comparing results over time or among teams and peers can present a more substantial context to what works and what does not. It can help to show where intention and repetition make a difference. It is like thinking about how consistency is classified as practice until it becomes mastery.
Evaluation and Comparison
Evaluation and comparison are where judgment takes place within data collection. There must be a process that can help to establish the validity and reliability of the assessment completed. Evaluation requires following through and observing the business. The comparison allows for context and helps to show what is relative in the data. Comparison will also provide additional views into what works and does not.
Developing the skill of evaluating will help in establishing more robust business acumen. The skill of evaluation reinforces leveraging collected data to assess impact. This gives the leader the insights needed to make a judgment or a decision to support the business.
Performance versus proficiency
Performance management, in this case, is the art of building performance by increasing efficiency or productivity in some way. Before leaders dive into managing performance, they must first establish proficiency. In many organizations, leaders need to take the time to understand their team members’ proficiency in new skills and tools. It is why there is high turnover when employees transition from training to production. Effectiveness and repetition are essential factors to consider in measuring proficiency and performance.
It supports consistency and is critical in the process of development and proficiency. There is a rule around how many hours it takes to master a new skill or task. Of course, this would be with something that is not familiar at all. Many skills are built from the foundation of other skills.
The crucial factor that is used in proficiency and performance is effectiveness. However, no leader is so good that they can introduce a skill and get performance without proficiency. Evaluation of the progression through repetition, while comparing results to benchmarks, will help to identify which phase a team member is in.
A great way to think of life-cycle in the development process is like practice. Having benchmarks is great, but the rate also needs to be considered. What is observable? How is the skill used? Break it down into practice swings and work to decide how many it will take to achieve proficiency and master it.
Example: Imagine a world where a hammer is a new tool, and you have never used one. After being walked through the best way to hold the hammer and a nail, along with how to set and strike -how many practice swings would it take to get proficient and then excellent at it?
Not meeting, meeting, exceeding – measure through consistency
The ratings we see so often should only be used if consistency is well understood. Often ratings are not just about a moment or a single task. Instead, it is about the trends and actions observed as part of the routine influencing results. The rater must ask themselves, “Is this occurring consistently through this lens?” Do the activities and actions reflect results that consistently do not meet expectations? Not utilizing this method leads to conversations and development that do not focus on the correct outcomes.