A 5-Step Systematic, Holistic Approach To Performance Management.

Systematic Approach To Performance Management
Summary: When an individual or a team is not performing, managers too easily make assumptions as to why this might be. A holistic, systematic approach will prevent the waste of time and resources, as well as the loss of credibility and continued loss of productivity, that incorrect assumptions can lead to.

Don't Assume, Adopt A 5-Step Systematic Approach

It is important to remind ourselves that assuming makes an "ASS-U-ME" (ass of you and me) and can result in an unnecessary waste of time, effort, and resources as well as a loss of credibility for the manager concerned, in addition to the continued loss of productivity. This can be prevented if we encourage our managers to follow a process of systematic logic in dealing with performance issues. The sketch below, based on a holistic performance model, is a simple illustration of how to apply systematic logic to a team or individual performance problem.


A Systematic, Holistic 5-Step Approach To Performance Management

If an individual or a team is seen to be underperforming, follow the systematic logic provided by the diagram above, from the top down, on a step-by-step basis:

  1. Is it because they are not clear on their role and why it is important? If so, clarify this.
  2. Do they have a capacity issue? If so, evaluate this and take corrective action. They may need additional staff, better technology or systems, perhaps enhanced process or even a reduction in the workload.
  3. If they are clear on their role and there is not a capacity issue, is it a capability issue? If this is the case, evaluate it and upskill them.
  4. If they are clear on their role, have the capabilities and the resources to do the job, is the problem a commitment issue? Do they buy into the Purpose of the organization and their role in contributing to its success? If not, clarify this and deal with any issues around it. Are there trust and conflict issues? If so, resolve them. And then, commit them and hold them accountable for results.
  5. Finally, sub-par performance may be an outcome of sense of community issues. Do they feel a sense of belonging and a feeling of influence over things that matter to them? If not, explore this and find ways to resolve it. Do they see their work as worthy and worthwhile? If not, explore why this is the case and find ways to resolve it. Are there issues obstructing their emotional attachment to the organization? If so, what needs to be done to help them to feel good about the organization and the people they work with?


It seems logical to adopt a systematic approach to resolving performance problems. Yet managers still seem to regularly resort to jumping to conclusions. It is incumbent on us, as L&D professionals, to continually find ways to remind them about best practices and to find simple models to help them to apply best practices consistently. Hopefully, this article provides an example of a way to do this. I have also converted this approach to an MSP (micro-support program) that managers can access anytime, anywhere on their mobile devices to refresh their memories.

Finally, we should encourage managers not to wait for problems to arise. They should be continually assessing and evolving the 5 Cs that make this approach holistic. The 5 Cs are Clarity, Capacity, Capability, Commitment, and sense of Community. The simple diagram serves as a reminder to continually assess and evolve these 5 Cs so that everyone and every team can continually “stay on top of their game.”


Take any best practice, such as this, and convert it to an MLP (microlearning program) with an associated MSP (micro-support program). Gain the support of the executive management team to refresh this practice throughout the organization via your LMS. Importantly, each manager should be required to apply the approach within his/her team to identify opportunities for improvement and then to action them. An opportunity could be for representatives to be chosen from each division to attend a Zoom or any other virtual meeting with the MD to share the best lessons/opportunities identified in the various divisions. The best opportunities would then be recognized and shared throughout the organization. In applying this approach, we are ourselves applying good practices as informed by the 70:20:10 model.