How Three Circles Can Help You Understand Underperformers
When a promising employee struggles in a new position, leaders often struggle to understand why. Someone may seem perfectly aligned for a job but still not quite hit the mark.
The three circle model of job performance can provide great insight and light the past for a performance management plan. Imagine the three circles are overlapping with a common area in the middle.
The Four Factors of Success
Management expert Tom Foster says that success requires four factors:
- Capability to do the job
- The skills to do the job
- Interest and passion
- Reasonable behavior, which he defines as the absence of the extreme negative
As you can see, the first three factors relate to the three circles in the model. The fourth, reasonable behavior, is an outlier and it can have a significant impact on the other factors.
- Capability: Can they do the job? Every role demands a particular set of cognitive skills and traits. You must evaluate whether or not the person possesses those traits.
- Skills: Have they done the job before? This is determined through resumes, skill assessments and reference checks.
- Interest and passion: Do they want to do the job? Someone can possess the hard, soft and cognitive skills to do a job, but if they aren't interested in what they are doing, engagement can suffer. How much they love their work can impact success.
The Three Circle Model And Job Performance
When you have a new manager or employee on your team who struggles with success, this model can be applied as you develop a job performance management plan. As you answer the questions; Can they do the job? Have they done the job? Do they want to do the job?... you can drill down to the source of the performance issue.
The Pesky Fourth Factor
That fourth factor that we touched on earlier is an outlier, but it is important: reasonable behavior. There will likely come a time when a solid performer begins to backslide. Their poor attitude can destroy their success and drag down those around them.
Temporary unreasonable or extreme behavior is likely the result of something going on elsewhere in their life. A death in the family, an illness, a divorce, issues with children, etc.
When things like this are going on, it's worth the time to sit down with the employee and have the conversation. Let them know that you understand life happens and you sympathize with whatever they are experiencing and coach them through separating that stress from work. It won't always work, but with a strong performer, it's always worth the time.
However, you must also emphasize their commitment to their role in the organization and performance is still expected. Empathize but do not abandon accountability.