Essentials of Performance Management

Performance management has some essential elements and tools, required to create a committed team of people who demonstrate personal leadership in executing the organisation’s strategy…regardless of the organisation.

Here are four; willing and able matrix, competency development framework, feedback and personal development.

Willing and Able Matrix

To improve the performance of individuals, there are five options in a coaching range. The options are to:

  • Educate
    • Training, or coaching
  • Sponsor
    • Mentoring or placing on a project example, for example
  • Encourage
    • Giving constructive feedback on the desired behaviours and actions that we want to see repeated
  • Counsel
    • What do we need to do to solve our problem?
  • Confront
    • What are you going to do to solve your problem?

A simple means of determining when you should use each element of the coaching range is to determine where you think an individual sits on a Willing and Able Matrix.

Article - Essentials of PM - Willing and Able Matrix

Depending on their position on the matrix, you can improve people’s performance by taking the actions outlined in Table 1.

If a person is: Then:
Willing and able Sponsor them
Willing but unable Educate and encourage them
Able but unwilling Counsel them at least twice unless it is a severe safety, financial or security issue and confront them if there is no improvement
Unable and unwilling Confront them

Table 1: Actions to take to improve performance, dependent on an individual’s ability and willingness


Competency development framework

A competency development framework is used to provide:

  • A common language of what behaviour, skills and knowledge to undertake in their role, that all employees can understand;
  • A basis for an integrated approach to people development.

In a competency framework, each competency is described at different levels of ability. Job roles are defined by a combination of levels of ability of several competencies. Individuals can be assessed for their level of ability for each competency, which can be compared with the required competency for the position.

In the real world, people do not have all of the required level of ability for all competencies to execute their roles to an acceptable level of performance. This is particularly true at recruitment and promotion.

An analysis of the gap between the required level of ability of each competence and the desired level of ability can then be used to determine:

  • Suitable training interventions to improve competence;
  • Coaching and mentoring requirements to make up for a short term inadequacy in competence.

An analysis of the different competence requirements between different roles in the organisation enables employees, their supervisor and the human resources function to determine what competency development is required for:

  • Succession planning;
  • Career development;
  • Personal development.

Attaining a desired level of ability of the competencies required for a role can be used as a basis of rewards and remuneration, including competency based pay.

Article - Essentials of PM - Competency Development


It is important to recognise people for their accomplishments. In organisations where it’s important for individuals to take personal leadership in their roles, it’s even more important. People strongly desire feedback that is honest, positive, objective, and fair. That feedback must be specific, accurate, given often and it must be timely.

Specific – Base feedback on observable behaviour, not one’s feelings or the conclusions drawn from the behaviour. For example: “Your design of the training made it not only easy to facilitate, but because it enabled people to learn concepts in safe, familiar mental surroundings before practicing use of the concept in their work environment, made it easy for people to learn, too.” This specific example, tied to a positive organisational outcome, is more effective than saying “Great design,” since the employee can link the feedback to a specific event, which they are likely to repeat.

Accurate – Opinions, perceptions, and reactions must be differentiated from facts. Avoid inferences and interpretations and labels which may be misinterpreted themselves. Be accurate with your feedback on consequences. .

Often – Feedback must be frequent. However, the frequency that is appropriate for an employee new to a role will be different than that appropriate for an experienced employee. The frequency with which a person lacking in confidence desires is different for a person with high levels of confidence.

Therefore, tailor feedback frequency to each individual and their circumstance.

Timely – Give feedback in a timely enough manner so that both parties can recall the specific behaviour involved.

Article - Essentials of PM - Feedback

Personal development

The environment required to enable people to develop and demonstrate personal leadership is one in which:

  • People can align their personal vision for their lives with the organisation’s vision;
  • Organisational barriers to personal development are recognised and addressed;
  • Personal barriers to development are recognised by the individuals themselves and they demonstrate willingness to reduce those barriers with help from the organisation;
  • Opportunities are created for people to develop in their workplace, not just in formal training.

Article - Essentials of PM - Personal Development

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