Using a performance-motivation model to uncover talent

If we accept what we see on the surface, then we and those we support may never see the value of what lies hidden underneath.

In part one of this series we asked: If you had a way to unlock even a small amount of the untapped performance and motivation potential of your workforce, what would the impact be to your business?Imagining this possibility requires a set of assumptions.

Assumption 1:  Employee performance and motivation levels typically fall far short of what they could be. Although recent progress has been made in this area, few companies have found ways to tap into the deepest levels of employee performance and motivation.

Business value:Vast, unused levels of employee energy and performance contributions go untapped and are wasted.

Assumption 2: Impactful performance and motivation strategies require understanding what drives behavior. An easy way to understand performance and motivation strategies is to use the concept of levels.What we can call a foundational level includes basic performance elements such as role clarity and reward systems, while what we call a transformational level includes much more powerful motivators such as a compelling vision and a well-articulated strategy.

Business value:Provides a straightforward way to understand which performance and motivation factors drive desired behaviors.

Assumption 3: Distinct performance and motivation levels can be identified using specific indicators. These indicators range from structural components such as role clarity, decision making processes and leadership behaviors that inspire passion and commitment.Ensuring people have clear accountabilities vs. ensuring everyone understands and is committed to the company vision and strategy have different levels of impact.

Business value: An easy-to-use blueprint for identifying actions that have the highest ROI.

Assumption 4: The ROI of performance and motivation strategies increases by knowing which levers create the desired outcomes. Performance and motivation strategies are more likely to be successful by knowing which levers to pull.Expecting to strengthen passion and commitment levels by creating clear workflow processes vs. creating a compelling vision that ignites peoples’ desire to make a difference will result in different outcomes.

Business value: Pulling the right levers increases the likelihood of the desired outcomes.      

A performance-motivationmodel

The model is comprised of three levels built upon one another. The following are small excerpts from the complete performance-motivation model provided as a way of further describing and clarifying possibilities for its use.

  1. Foundational level: Consists of the basic components of how work is structured.

Examples of foundational levers 

  • Role clarity, reward systems, workflow processes

Example indicators for the role clarity lever

  • Establishing clear job priorities and expected deliverables.
  • Agreeing on deliverables that support and align with my manager’s and department’s goals.
  • Clarifying the interdependencies of my work in relation to the work of others; inputs I need, outputs I produce.

Example actions that support a foundational level

  • Be sure everyone understands the role they play and the performance expectations of their job.
  • Ensure people have the resources necessary to perform their work.
  • Routinely audit processes to identify inefficiencies/redundancies.
  • Maintain competitive compensation packages.
  • Ensure people have both clear accountabilities and the authority they need.
  1. Operational level:  Consists of more complex components of work delivered through skilled application of management and leadership capabilities.

Examples of operational levers 

  • Teamwork, decision making, communication processes

Example indicators for the teamwork lever

  • Aligning work around common objectives.
  • Receiving support from other team members.
  • Holding everyone on the team accountable for commitments.

Example actions that support an operational level

  • Ensure clear guidelines for how decisions are made and who is in the chain of decision making for specific issues.
  • Create and communicate all escalation processes.
  • Provide developmental opportunities whenever possible; include job assignments, leading teams/projects, filling in for other leaders and stretch goals.
  • Ensure regular communication about the company regarding business goal accomplishment, financial performance, new product releases, new accounts and innovations.
  •  Encourage/support high performance team development.
  1. Transformational level:  Consists of the highest demonstrations of contribution and impact.

Examples of transformational levers 

  • Vision, alignment, strategy, culture

Example indicators for the alignment lever

  • My personal aspirations and passion are aligned with the company vision.
  • Senior leaders make hard choices about investments that support the vision and strategy.
  • The work of different departments/groups is aligned to support mutual goals and performance expectations.

Example actions that support a transformational level

  • Create and articulate a compelling and shared vision of a desired future state for the company.
  • Define a set of core values for the company; communicate and reinforce whenever possible.
  • Create/communicate a clearly defined strategy that incorporates the vision, the competitive marketplace, short and longer-term objectives and metrics for success.
  • Create ways to capture and transfer knowledge throughout the company.
  • Remove barriers to creativity.

Working to reveal what is present, but perhaps not yet visible in any workforce requires a certain belief system, one that drives the right kind of behavior. It doesn’t matter if we’re sculpting or developing workforce talent. Simply stated, what we believe influences what we do. With respect to talent potential, if we choose to accept what we see on the surface, then we and those we support may never see the value of what lies hidden underneath. 

When Michelangelo looked at a piece of stone, he might have asked himself this question: “If I carefully remove this stone’s exterior, what treasure lies hidden underneath?” For those of us who deeply believe in the development of workforce talent, the question we should be asking is: “What can I do to uncover this person’s greatest strengths that have not yet had an opportunity to be revealed?” Perhaps with such a mindset, we will be able to see David in the stone even before he becomes visible.