At InsideOut Development, we believe that everyone has the capacity to learn and perform at a higher level. A manager’s job is to draw that greatness out of employees—to maximize performance and draw out potential. Understanding the key elements of performance allows a coach to target their coaching and maximize effectiveness.
We’ve synthesized the four elements of performance into the Performance Wheel.
Understanding the Performance Wheel will allow coaches and individual contributors to identify how performance can be improved and use the GROW Model to make it happen.
The role of Knowledge in performance.
Knowledge is the most obvious source of performance. Information informs our performance. In any task, there is a basic level of know-how required to achieve competence.
There are two elements to knowledge: data, and the perception of that data. A computer has a certain degree of knowledge on the basis of the data it processes. But at some point, computers need a human to interpret that data into actionable results.
Often we treat performers like computers, inputting more data/knowledge and expecting it to improve results. But computers don’t make decisions—people do. And people are influenced by their perception of the knowledge.
Dan Kahan, Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School, looked into why equally smart, educated people with the same skills in critical thinking can come to such different conclusions regarding political issues—even those based in science, like global warming and nuclear power use.
“[Knowledge] may not lead you to the right answer,” psychology professor Ira Hyman, Jr. explains. “Being smart makes you better at supporting your preferred answer…More information and better thinking skills can make things worse.”
“If knowledge were the only thing that impacted performance, we’d all read the book, and we’d all be world champions.” –Alan Fine
The International Journal of Project Management published a study that quantifies the impact of knowledge on project performance. According to this study, knowledge explains 38% of the variance in business value. There are clearly times when more knowledge is exactly what’s needed to improve business results. But what the other 62% of performance?
In their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap, Stanford University professors Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert Sutton point out that thousands of books are published each year that essentially contain the same analyses and prescriptions contained in books published a year or even a decade ago. “Yet,” they say, “these books have a ready market because the ideas, although often widely-known and proven to be useful and valid, remain unimplemented…Anyone can read a book or attend a seminar. The trick is in turning the knowledge acquired into action.”
In most instances, the problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, but rather getting people to take consistent action on what they know. Once a baseline competency is established, the impact of knowledge on performance experiences diminishing returns. Then the other three elements of performance improvement become even more critical.
Learn more about these elements of performance in the links below.