026 - Why Your People May Not Be Performing



  • Performance is an outcome of a number of factors working together
  • Be specific in the task/outcome you're looking at
  • Ascertain the level of the person's Direction - they know what is expected and why
  • Assess their actual ability against standards
  • Identify and minimise obstacles to performance
  • Check their internal motivation - can you help in any way?
  • Check the team culture you help create. Does it need improving?
  • Ask your team - they'll tell you the truth!


See Google for "The Performance Equation" for a deeper treatment of the tool.


Performance is a function of a number of things but we could look at it as an equation – this idea has been around for a while.

P = (D + A)/O x M

P = Performance itself (successfully selling a product, coaching a team member well, or presenting effectively) – What exactly are you talking about, what exactly is expected?

  • D = Direction – does the person have similar expectations to you?  Do they have a clear idea of the vision or outcome required, what to do and what good looks like?
  • A = Ability – are they fundamentally wired the right way in terms of basic capability, and do they have the required knowledge and skills to do the job well?
  • O = Opportunity – can they perform in the way required or are there obstacles in the way such as lack of resources, poor processes or a workload that is just too demanding?
  • M = Motivation – do they have the intrinsic motivation (personal energy, enjoyment and challenge) and the extrinsic motivation (recognition, reward and other incentives?)

So, if you are a leader of others, and you notice that performance in a certain area is not what it could be, take some time to think about each of these areas and identify the one to work on. 

How can you tell what the issue might be? Just ask the person concerned. They usually know.

How You Should Respond

  • If it’s a lack of DIRECTION, then you might re-explain the vision or outline the reason for something.  Check their expectations.
  • If it’s lack of ABILITY, you might need to move them to another job they’re better suited for, or give them training and coaching to buiuld skill.
  • If it’s lack of OPPORTUNITY, then do what you can to identify the barriers and remove them.
  • If it’s lack of MOTIVATION, you might need to create new opportunities for stretch or revisit their reward structure.

So, the performance equation is a useful concept for knowing how to improve performance of yourself or your team.  Or at least, knowing what where to look further.