Top Ten Tips on...

Managing Poor Performance Checklist

6 February 2023
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
Your managing poor performance checklist: 4 key factors that are responsible for most poor performance, and how to prevent them and set up for success using the PIMST model.

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Identify and close the performance gap

poor performance is essentially the gap between what's required and what's delivered. So addressing poor performance is essentially closing that performance gap. But before you can close such a gap, you have to have two horizontal lines that separate what's required and what's delivered. And the two lines both need to be specified. In order for there to be some evidence of poor performance, there has to be evidence of what's required and what's actually being delivered.


Identify performance indicators

first of all, let's look at the requirement, the demand side, and I'm going to look at a five-letter mnemonic called PIMST. These next four tips are going to spell these PIMST requirements out. So tip number two really is to look at PI, which is all about performance indicators. You need to specify what's being required in terms of what's important and we call these the performance indicators: what indicates the quality of the performance. And these are variables to do with the characteristics required, the things that matter. Typically they'll include things like accuracy, reliability, punctuality and meeting professional requirements


Identify measures

how will you measure such indicators? You need a reliable measure, one that's accepted by both yourself and whoever's performance you want to manage. So for example, if you are. For example, the measure of punctuality would be time, and for accuracy, the measure would be error rate.


Identify standards

S stands for standard, and the standard is the minimum performance required for each performance indicator. It's the baseline, the base level at which that performance is acceptable. So for accuracy, measured by error rate, the standard might be 2%. A standard, a minimum requirement, is in effect a promise to the customer.


Identify targets

a target is different from a standard. Whereas a standard is a minimum requirement to be delivered, a target is an aim, an aspiration. The importance here is that in measuring performance, we need to be pretty hard on standards that are not met because after all they have the status of a promise and a promise not met is problematic, whereas a target is meant to be aspirational. It is meant to drive performance upwards, and it's not as crucial if it's not delivered.



we now need to move onto the supply side. What are the factors required in order to deliver the demand side? There are four of them, which are summarized by my acronym RKSA. The first of the four factors is resources, Does the individual performing the task have the necessary resources necessary, such as a budget, time and materials.



this breaks into two separate elements. Does the individual know what is required? And do they know why it is required? In terms of what is required, does the individual have sufficient information and detail; Is the goal clear or the performance indicators clear and so on. In terms of why is it required, do they understand its significance or importance? Because if the individual can't see any point in this particular requirement, then they're less likely to be motivated and prioritise it.



does the individual have the skills necessary to deliver the performance required? And that means not just the base skills, but the skills to operate at the level of the standard or target set.



does the individual have an appropriate attitude for completing the task? Attitude is probably the single biggest predictor of behaviour, but it's not a causal relationship. Somebody can still have a less than positive attitude to a job, but still do it well. In some ways that's the essence of professionalism: to not actually value the job, but do your best, nonetheless. Not every element of every job is motivational or something we would choose to do. It just goes with the job. And if we have a sense of professionalism and professional pride, we'll do it to the best of our ability - even if we don't like it. And that's the difference between a negative attitude to the task and a positive attitude to your own professionalism.


Distinguish between task and behaviour performance

for a long time, most performance has been judged around the task, how well the individual has delivered the task, and much less has been said in the past about how the person has done that task behaviourally - their approach, their demeanor. This is changing and increasingly behavioral measures are being put into competency frameworks to help assess performance. So somebody could be brilliant at the task but actually be foulmouthed, sulky or petulant, and not be a very effective team player or communicator. And this is actually quite demoralizing for the workforce and makes general work quite difficult.

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