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Could this person perform satisfactorily if his life depended on it? If so, then the person has the skill to perform but is choosing not to perform.


Performance problems occur for two reasons: either the person doesn't know how to perform (a competency issue), or he doesn't want to perform (a motivation issue). It is critical to investigate the situation to find out which it is. Try not to assume you know without some investigation.

Other Questions to Ask

Do you believe the person has the skills to perform? What makes you believe that?


Do you believe the person doesn't have the skills needed to perform? Why?


Are you assuming the cause of the performance problem without adequate investigation?


Did you recently inherit the poor performer? How do you know the cause of the poor performance?

Analyzing and Solving People Problems


Jennifer Alvarez was recently hired as a manager in the Management Information Services department. She manages three senior programmers. One programmer has recently missed an important deadline for a specialized software patch for the organization's mainframe processing unit. Jennifer, who is fairly young, is convinced the senior programmer is purposefully slowing down the project as a way of "getting even" for not being promoted to the management position held by Jennifer.


While Jennifer's assessment of the situation may have merit – the senior programmer may be purposefully missing deadlines (a motivation issue), Jennifer should also consider the possibility he has missed the deadlines because he is struggling with the specialized coding required for the project (a competency issue). Before making unfounded assumptions about the cause of the performance problem, Jennifer should investigate to determine whether the programmer has a skill deficiency.

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