George Harrison famously sang, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I wish there was a lyric that crooned, “If you don’t know how to get there, you’ll likely end up somewhere else.” Often, organizations that work hard on defining vision, mission and goals then lay down their pens. As important as this work is, it isn’t enough. Defining purpose and objectives is challenging. However, to manage performance, equally critical and more difficult work still lay ahead: identifying constraints and conditions, designing work standards and supportive systems, and determining necessary tools and competencies. This is the explicit, tangible information individuals need to orient and equip themselves to do the work. It is the map, compass and knapsack of supplies they’ll use to take the organization to its target destination.
When there is a gap in performance, all of these elements must be evaluated to determine the cause of the gap and design a solution. On his blog, Harold Jarche provides this guide to a performance gap analysis. This highlights the responsibilities the organization has to ensure good performance, such as adequate resources, clear expectations and performance measures/feedback, and appropriately linking performance outcomes to rewards and consequences. Jarche also provides this decision tree tool to assist in the analysis process.
Providing this context and clarity is the foundation of performance management. With this cornerstone laid, the other functions of performance management, such as recruitment, development, corrective action, and succession planning, fall into place more clearly, logically, and with greater harmony.