Uncovering the Hidden Causes of Under-Performance: A Step-by-Step Guide

Kevin Watson
Jan 30, 2023

Like most leaders, performance will be constantly at the forefront of your thinking.

You know that people in your team can do better, but you’re struggling to find the recipe for success.

The first step to solving the performance puzzle is to ask yourself: “what am I doing or not doing that is contributing to this person’s performance?

Then, you’ll want to diagnose the real cause of under-performance and here is a framework to help you do just that.

It’s called the Seven Performance Conditions, or 7PC for short, and it can help you drill down to the true cause of people being unable to adequately perform the things they’ve been asked to do.

Use the 7PC model to assess an individual’s (or team’s) performance by starting at #1 and moving through each step in order, satisfying each one before moving on to the next.

#1: Role Design

Is this job designed for success?

Has the job/task/process been designed well enough for people to perform successfully? What is getting in the way of this being completed successfully, e.g. not enough resources, etc.?

Is it simple? Is it repeatable? Can it be performed to a high level?

#2: KPIs

Are performance expectations perfectly clear?

Does the performer know unequivocally the performance expected? How do you know that they know? Have you told them? Is it written down? Has their understanding been checked? Are we clear ourselves? Vagueness begins with us! We often make too many assumptions, such as:

  • “He is an experienced person”
  • “He doesn’t need me to tell him”
  • “She should know what is expected at this stage”

What will be used to measure success? Think in terms of quality, quantity and cost measures.

#3: Review

Is timely, constructive feedback present?

Does the person know how they are doing? Have you given regular feedback? Do you know how to give appropriate feedback or do you have the appropriate skills?

#4: Competencies

Are the necessary competencies present?

Does he/she have the skills to do the job? Does he/she have the knowledge to perform the tasks? Has he/she been trained properly? Do we know what are the ‘must have’ and the ‘nice to have’ competencies?

#5: Context

Are importance and consequence understood?

The individual:

  • Does the person understand the personal benefits/incentives?
  • Is there a consequence for him/her personally?

For the organisation:

  • Do they understand the importance of good performance?
  • Do they understand why the task must be done?

#6: Potential

Does the performer have the potential to perform?

Does he/she have the mental/physical / emotional capability to do the job? Has he/she the capacity to learn?

#7: Values and Behaviours

Does the performer have the willingness to perform?

Does he/she want to do the work to our expectations? Is he/she even willing to learn?

The benefits to you, and your organisation, of knowing the underlying root causes of poor performance are obvious. The expensive consequences of trying to fix a performance problem without knowing the underlying root cause are also obvious.

Make sure that you benefit from this simple-to-use framework next time you need to discover the root cause of performance issues.

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