The Performance TriangleTM

The Performance Triangle™ is simply a model for managing and improving performance. Realize that if employees don’t do their jobs, there are only three possible reasons:

  1. They don’t know how (Knowledge),
  2. The don’t want to (Motivation), or
  3. We won’t let them (Process).

This model addresses those three conditions, and is the foundation of our work.

Though used it mostly for leadership development, the principles hold true for all, including individual contributors. The basic premise is that, given the correct environment (Input Assumptions), enhanced performance is a result of the correct blending of an organization’s efficient Processes with employees’ Motivation and Knowledge.

These are what—and how—things happen within your organization. They include things that are formal, informal, in writing, unwritten, etc. Some of the more obvious include:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Existing Culture, and maintenance of that culture
  • The Decision-making Process
  • The Process for employment decisions and performance management

All of these – and likely more – make up the Process.

These are much like the “Hygiene Factors” described by management theorist Frederick Herzberg. Managers and employees alike, as a rule, expect as a minimum that:

  • …their workplace is secure,
  • …they can work safely,
  • …they have appropriate facilities,
  • …they receive benefits and compensation as generally provided elsewhere.

No surprises here.

These factors were once defined by Frederick Herzberg as “hygiene factors”; their presence does nothing to motivate anyone, but their absence can be a huge de-motivator.

What causes one employee or manager to work so much harder, more efficiently, or just “better” than another? All other things equal, it’s motivation. Motivation answers the “what’s in it for me?” question. It gives employees and managers the reason they need to do more.

Motivation can include:

  • Recognition – formal and informal
  • Work challenges
  • Career opportunities
  • Incentive (variable) pay
  • The organization’s performance

All these can create an environment where a manager or employee will, given the proper general environment, exercise discretionary effort for an organization.

Knowledge sets the very foundation for determining the final level of performance success you can expect from a manager or employee. It’s the single point that, generally, you cannot work past.

Knowledge includes:

  • Process skills
  • Technical training
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Individual and management development

Knowledge includes education – such as undergraduate degrees, training – as in technical skills, and on-the-job training – explaining how we use those education and training experiences here.

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