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Formula for Maximizing Performance

Formula for Maximizing Performance

Managers play their most important role when they set the stage for good performance. By understanding the factors that contribute to performance, management can focus on those factors to improve the results their employees and organizations achieve.

Federal regulations define employee performance as the accomplishment of work assignments or responsibilities. Organizational performance is the accomplishment of organizational goals. To achieve good performance, organizations and employees must have the capacity and the commitment to perform. Written as a formula, this concept can be expressed as:

Performance = Capacity x Commitment

Note that performance is the product of two factors-capacity and commitment. If either one of these factors is zero, the result is zero. In addition, the relationship of capacity to commitment in this equation means that adjustments to either factor will affect performance. Knowing this, managers can analyze various factors of the equation and address those areas that are weak to improve the result of the equation: performance.


In a work setting, the capacity to perform means having available the competencies, the resources, and the opportunity to complete the job. If employees are missing these, the work will not get done and the results will not be achieved. In other words:

Capacity = Competencies x Resources x Opportunity

  • Competencies. Competencies are sets of measurable skills, knowledge, behaviors, and personal attributes critical to successful performance. Employees must have the right competencies in order to complete a job satisfactorily. Organizational leaders must pay close attention to this factor in the performance equation. They should carefully determine which competencies are important to achieving the results set out in strategic and performance plans so that they can hire the best people for the job, make effective work assignments, and establish individual development plans for employees that focus on the most important competencies.
  • Resources. Employees must be given the resources they need to do their jobs. A key management responsibility is to ensure employees have a work environment that contains the tools they need to be effective. If employees have all the competencies needed to complete the job, but lack the resources to perform, the job will not get done. For example, customer service representatives who do not have working phones at their desk will not be able to call their customers to ask if their needs were met.
  • Opportunity. Employees may have the competencies and the resources to do the job, but may never be given the opportunity to perform. For example, a public relations specialist assigned to facilitate public forums will not have the opportunity to perform that assignment if no public forums are held. Supervisors should be aware when situations arise that prevent a competent employee from performing assigned duties well.


In a work setting, commitment means, at a minimum, that an employee agrees to complete assigned work and meet or exceed specific standards of quality, quantity, and timeliness that add value to the organization and its results. The level of employee commitment to the job is often the key determinant of whether an employee performs marginally or exceeds expectations.

Methods for gaining employee commitment include:

  • setting clear goals for employees that require effort to achieve but are reachable;
  • showing employees how they fit into the "big picture" of the organization's mission and how their work helps the organization accomplish its goals;
  • involving employees and their representatives in decision-making processes that affect how the work gets done as well as the quality of work life;
  • measuring performance and results using credible measures that employees understand and accept;
  • using employee input to develop employee performance plans;
  • creating a work climate where employees feel valued; and
  • recognizing and rewarding-formally and informally-employee achievements.

Obtaining and maintaining employee commitment can be the most challenging factor of the performance formula. But practicing good performance management techniques offers supervisors and managers the ways and means to sustain and improve that commitment and thereby further leverage their employees' capacity to perform.

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