Rocket GTM 🚀 - Dealing with underperformance
I've been silent for 7 months.
Now I'm back.
For those who care, here's a couple of sentences on why. For those who don't, please feel free to skip to the newsletter.
Close friends and family know that I've been unable to leave the U.S. for the last 2.5 years. Mainly due to visa constraints caused by COVID.
Not seeing family was tough.
However, I recently had a stroke of luck and became the proud owner of a green card. And with that honor came the gift of seeing my family again. I took the first flight home and focused on what counts. Family.
In the last few months I've recharged my batteries with the help of friends, family, and some good old European food.
Now I'm back in the U.S. and back to writing.
For those of you who want to catch up and talk shop, here's my calendar. Let's grab a coffee ☕️
With that being said. Let's get into it!
The CAM Framework
No matter how hard we try, we'll always encounter underperformance in our organizations. Before we can fix it, we must acknowledge it, diagnose it, and then deal with it.
Enter "The CAM Framework"
A person's performance, or lack of it, stems from one of three factors:
Is the person capable of doing the job?
For the most part, the answer should be a resounding "yes". You shouldn't have hired them otherwise.
If they truly aren't capable of doing the job then sadly there is only one answer. Let them go.
Thankfully, this is rarely the issue. The problem tends to lie with their ability or motivation.
Capability describes what someone is capable of doing in the future whereas ability describes what they're able to do now.
While it's true that we hire people for their potential, unrealized potential isn't useful.
Our job is to turn capability into ability.
Naturally there is a transition from capable to able. This transition is all about skill acquisition.
A lack of skill acquisition can be caused by several factors. One of those is a lack of self-investment.
Contrary to popular belief, a lack of self-investment is rarely due to laziness.
Most people don't invest in themselves because they don't truly believe in themselves. Ability starts with belief. A belief that they can become person they want to become.
How often do you share your belief in your team? How often do you help them visualize what they're truly capable of?
In other cases, people don't invest in themselves because they don't have the resources necessary to do so.
Does your company have a strong development culture?
Does your company promote a growth mindset where people aren't afraid of failure, but rather see failure as a path to success?
Are your teammates open and willing to share knowledge?
Building skillsets requires the input of both employee and employer. It's up to you to figure out where the gap is coming from.
If your team has everything they need to acquire new skills, but there is still a lack of performance then you have to ask about motivation.
People are motivated by a variety of factors. Some you can control, others you can't.
Probability of a positive outcome impacts motivation. If the goal is clearly out of reach then people will give up before they try. Goals should be a stretch, but they should be remain achievable and realistic.
Unclear goals dampen motivation. How can you be motivated to do something if you're not crystal clear on what you're trying to achieve?
Spending time to communicate and align on expectations has been huge source of successful outcomes in my career. I couldn't recommend this enough.
Without mutually agreed expectations there is nothing to be held accountable for.
Maslow's "hierarchy of needs" assumes motivation is driven by our innate human needs. Putting food in our belly is clearly more important than achieving high social status. Hungry people are less likely to be in a nightclub socializing.
Do you know where your team sits on Maslow's hierarchy of needs?
All human needs come before self-actualization, including security. If your team is constantly worrying they'll be fired, they won't take necessary risks needed to progress. Taking risks is risky business after all. You must foster a growth mindset environment where people are not afraid to fail.
Other external factors determine how well our needs are met.
Family emergencies. Dependents to look after. A newly emerged long distance relationship. Life happens, and it can change what motivates us, sometimes at the expense of prioritizing personal or professional growth.
Whatever the reason for a shift in priorities it's important to state that "it's okay". The cause of underperformance is not a problem in itself, but underperformance is.
Both employee and employer have a responsibility to be aware of each others motivations, and if there is no longer an overlap then agreeing to part ways is sometimes the best outcome for both parties.
How much time do you spend uncovering what motivates your team? Have you done everything in your control to enable someone to be motivated? Are you able to acknowledge when your needs no longer match?
🌯 Wrapping it up
When we are faced with underperformance we must first ask "why is this happening? Is it a lack of capability, ability, or motivation?"
Once you figure that out, double click and understand the root cause.
And above all, don't assume underperformance is driven by laziness.
It rarely is.