A Better Way to Address Performance Issues

“Will or skill” is an insufficient question when addressing performance issues. This model works okay if it’s truly a “skill” issue because managers know what to do next. They train, coach, or assign a buddy. But the “will issue” answer often begins a slide down a slippery slope of assumptive questions:

  • Why doesn’t she care?
  • How can I motivate him to do more?
  • I wonder how long I have to document all this before I can fire her?

Once you label someone as disengaged, it’s difficult to see them any differently. The truth is the percentage of employees who “just don’t care” is actually very low in most organizations. I find that what looks like disengagement often stems from the confidence/competence cocktail.

The Confidence Competence Model

The next time you’re dealing with a performance management problem, try starting with the lens of confidence and competence.

High-Competence/High-Confidence: Challenge Me

This could be an employee in the perfect sweet spot of positive energy and flow, or may be becoming a bit bored and longing for more. At best, they’re your A players, although the high confidence/competence combo can sometimes manifest itself in feelings of superiority, particularly if the rest of the team is weak (read more about that here.)

High-Competence/Low-Confidence: Encourage Me

The good news is you’ve got skills to work with. The low confidence may appear as disengagement, but don’t be fooled. Try these confidence building techniques to encourage her to reach her full potential.

Low-Competence/High Confidence: Coach Me

This employee needs help seeing his strengths and developmental opportunities more clearly. Offering feedback through 360 assessments, specific examples, and coaching will help bring his skills in-line with his self perceptions.

Low-Competence/Low Confidence: Teach Me

This chicken or egg situation is still potentially solvable. Train and teach the skills she needs for success in the role. There may also be a skills miss-match, have deeper developmental conversations to determine if there is a better fit for her within your organization.