How am I doing?

“I don’t really know how I’m doing” is a familiar refrain. Even when an organization has a 360-feedback process and regular performance check-ins, people are still not sure how they’re doing or why they may not be progressing as quickly as they’d like. As a bookend to this, managers struggle with how to put words to the feedback they’re trying to give. They want it to be clear and actionable, yet they find their conversations often don’t deliver.

Performance dimensions

Decades ago, Lominger International* drew from common performance evaluation measures to define 10 performance dimensions that apply to all levels of work — from entry level jobs to the C-suite — and that are also relevant for teams. I’ve recently dusted them off and shared my version of them with a few clients who are finding them useful for crafting better performance discussions. For each of the dimensions, a person may be “unskilled,” “average,” “skilled,” or they might be “overusing” a skill or capability. The concept of “overusing” might not be intuitive, so I’ve included in the explanations below. Our weaknesses often stem from our strengths, so holding a mirror up to things we might be doing too much of can be eye-opening.

  1. Quantity of work — the amount of work produced — assignments, tasks, products, or services. Producing too much work might cause unnecessary fatigue, and quality or morale could suffer.

  2. Timeliness of work — completion of work on time — meeting deadlines, schedules, goals. If overused, costs, quality, or morale could suffer.

  3. Quality of work — the quality of the work completed — meeting expected standards without errors or redos. Taken to an extreme, standards might be so high as to slow work down, drive up costs, or drive others or ourselves crazy with perfectionism.

  4. Use of resources — the use of time, money, materials, and people in getting work done. Too much concern here could result in cutting corners or lower quantity or quality.

  5. Customer impact/value — the extent to which the work, products, or services meet the expectations of internal or external customers. If too focused on customers, could lose sight of other goals, objectives, organizational values or policies.

  6. Level of independence — the support needed to complete work. One “unskilled” here might need more training or supervision than expected, while someone operating with too much independence might waste time and resources working on the wrong things in the wrong way, or resist accepting help or working with others.

  7. Team contribution — the extent to which one is helpful to others, focuses on the team vs. self, and collaborates. Overdoing teamwork could get in the way of individual performance.

  8. Good work habits — time management, prioritization & planning, following up on commitments, and communicating well. Doing this to an extreme could result in getting thrown off balance by the unexpected, or being too rigid when flexibility is required.

  9. Adding skills and capabilities — learning and building technical and people skills and capabilities. If overused, a person might be spending too much time learning skills at the expense of getting the job done, or building skills that are only marginally (or not at all) helpful to the organization.

  10. Alignment with culture and values — the degree to which behaviors are aligned with the values, culture, and mission of the organization. Taken to an extreme, a person could have trouble seeing when exceptions need to be made.

  11. Creativity and problem solving — the ability to see problems as opportunities and find new ways to solve them. Too much of this could result in time wasted, especially when problems can be solved with simple and existing solutions. (I’ve added this 11th factor, as it’s critical in today’s workplace.)

Remember the feedback fallacy

Helping people gain insight into, and build on, what they do well is more effective for individual and organizational performance than focusing on “areas for development.” We’re also more engaged when we get to do what we do best each day. Using these performance dimensions to get clear about one’s strengths could inform how to tweak jobs to play to those talents, if that’s possible.

That said, sometimes we just have to get our work done, on time, and do it well even if we don’t love doing it. And knowing where we stand helps us do that better.

*Lominger International was acquired by Korn Ferry in 2006. What’s left of the original suite of competency-based tools is the Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ Global Competency Framework. FYI For Your Improvement™, the 2006 guide for development and coaching that includes the Performance Management Architect™ Dimensions as well as the competency framework is out of print, but still available from several booksellers. It’s a great resource.

Sunday Morning Reflection

How are you doing? What are your strengths? What might you be doing too much of? Too little of? These translate to our home lives as well!

Sunday Morning: 124