Why understanding performance is the first step to improving outcomes

Updated: May 3

Employee performance is defined as how an employee fulfills their job duties and executes their required tasks. More specifically it refers to the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of their output.

Performance is complex and not one dimensional. It is more than just a KPI or target.

Businesses and leaders that focus purely on a set of KPIs or targets are missing the mark and will be missing opportunities to great an environment for their teams where they demonstrate true performance.

Our approach

We approach performance through the lens of three key areas that are fundamental to achieving sustained performance. These three foundations are;


Do your employees know what is required in their role and what standards are expected?

Research shows nearly 50% of employees across all sectors currently lack role clarity in the workplace.


Do your employees have the skills and resources available to them to complete the task of their role


Are your employees connected to the organisations

purpose and are motivated to perform in their role?

Once leaders understand that performance is built around these three key drivers, it is easier to manage an employee’s performance and see what area(s) our employees need support with and where to focus our coaching.

Let’s explore these in more detail.

An image of a triangle demonstrating performance as potential, purpose and clarity.


Role clarity is the degree to which employees have a clear understanding of their tasks, responsibilities, and processes at work. This extends to their colleagues’ roles and how they work together to achieve team outcomes. Research shows that when individuals have higher role clarity their overall work performance increases by 25%.

You can help your employees by ensuring there is clarity in these two areas:

1. Clarity on the tasks to be performed

  • Alignment to vision, mission, and values. Linking an employee’s work to the overall business purpose and how their role contributes to this.

  • Values documented and understood

  • Team values articulated and documented

  • Purpose known and able to be articulated by each team member

  • Clarify the direction, goals of the business.

  • Access to the business objectives and overall KPIs

  • Access to team and individual objectives and overall KPIs

  • KPIs are clear and how they will be measured and reported on is understood

  • Job tasks are specific

  • Employee has a list of tasks that they are required to complete, and the scope is understood

  • Employee knows where the hand off points are and what their delegated authority to provide outcomes is

  • Employee knows where the resources are to access job information and has access to systems and support

2. Clarity on how they are to work with others.

  • Understanding job roles

  • What is their role

  • What is the role of their leader

  • What is the role of their peers

  • Understanding the business structure

  • Access to the business structure, team functions and how each team supports the delivery of business objectives

  • Documented rules or guidelines for interdepartmental engagement and how to leverage strengths to achieve outcomes

  • Documented key stakeholders to ensure employees know internal and external key personnel and how & when to engage


Potential is the sum of the skills, ability, knowledge, and resources that employees leverage to help them perform in their role. You can build potential and capability across your team and organisation by taking a structured and considered approach. Organisations who do this best leverage the knowledge, skills and abilities within their teams to help lift the knowledge, skills and ability of the collective. Here are five ways to build capability:

  1. Training Needs Analysis

  2. On the job coaching

  3. Formal performance review

  4. Online courses and resources

  5. Team training and group exercises


This is the connection to the business, the motivation and will to do the tasks required, to the standards that have been set.

Employee motivation can be impacted throughout the year, remembering that external factors will have a direct impact on motivation, which then can turn into capability gaps.

By taking the time to understand team members and what their drivers are you will be better placed to motivate them and keep them on the journey.

Companywide engagement and motivation strategies are great however remember that everyone has internal motivators so take the time to understand these.

Here are 5 ways to increase motivation and build purpose

  1. Reward and Recognition

  2. Provide meaningful feedback

  3. Encourage and empower creative problem solving

  4. Offer flexible work environments

  5. Ask employees what they want


Once you are looking at performance across the three foundations (clarity, potential and purpose), it becomes easier for leaders to identify gaps and themes in employee performance. It enables leaders to focus their efforts as they start to map whether an employee needs support with clarity, purpose, potential or a combination.

One final thought, if you move to (or already have) a structure like this Performance Triangle, remember to engage your employees on the journey. Educate them about performance and the foundations. Empower them to be part of the conversation and self- identify performance strengths and opportunities.