PAMO – The tricky business of managing performance

An introduction to PAMO.

Making meaningful changes to our own or the team’s performance is arguably often the hardest thing for us to achieve. For individuals or teams to be at their absolute best, they require the necessary skills and ability to perform, the mindset and confidence to deliver to a high standard, but also the opportunity to reach the set goals. All of these elements have a direct impact on our performance.

The performance equation

P = A x M x O

In terms of performance, it all boils down to the orchestration of these three things: ability, motivation and opportunity. Often our weakest area limits our maximum performance. Simon xxx  explains, “If they are not all at 100%, then one of the three will drive down the other parts of the equation. We need to observe performance as a combination of what we call PAMO.”

To complete a challenge we need the right skills and ability to perform in our roles. Do we have the right technical knowhow to deliver towards a target? Do we have the right interpersonal skills to work alongside colleagues and within our own team? It could seem obvious that to complete an assignment or perform in a role, we need to have the right competence to do so.

If individuals or teams lack the right competences, then what support can be offered to upskill and improve their skillset? It is also important to understand the ways in which each individual learns and to ensure everyone is stretched sufficiently. But setting unrealistic goals beyond a person’s abilities will be counter-productive and likely to result in low performance.

Over-achieving teams often deliver excellent results due to sheer determination and bloody-mindedness – in spite of limited resources.

A fascinating area to understand is mindset. Most managers find this aspect of performance both difficult to evaluate but equally difficult to improve. How does one define confidence? What does belief and commitment look like? “If we think about teams that are over-achievers, they often deliver excellent results in spite of limited skills or resources. They do so by having a brilliant mindset – togetherness, bloody-mindedness, sheer determination, commitment and a simply a high motivation to over-reach goals set for them”, explains Simon.

However, all the confidence in the world is not enough without a certain level of ability. And the same is also true in reverse, having the right technical skills leads to below par performance with the wrong temperament for the role.

Knowing what makes individuals and teams “tick” is crucial. Easier said than done, we know! There is no “one-size-fits-all” because what motivates one person doesn’t necessarily do it for another person. Managers need to learn to know their staff and understand what motivates each of them. It is through active listening that managers can build relationships of trust and learn what inspires each individual.

How one as an employee is personally connected, contributing to a strategy is what often drives individual motivation.

Google employs some of the best code writers in the world. They just love writing code; it is fun and rewarding. It’s not the funky green carpets at the swanky offices that have them turning up to work each morning but rather their personal motivation that drives their performance. And here comes the key point, they know what is expected of them and they know the value they can bring to the business. Clarity of direction and how one as an employee is personally connected, contributing to a strategy or a plan, is what often drives individual motivation.

The third and final part of the equation is opportunity for individuals and teams to deliver at their absolute best. This can be defined as the right equipment, time, facilities and environment to accomplish a task or finalise an assignment. “Tennis players with the best skillset and motivation in the world have no hope of winning the match without the right tennis racquet that complies to the rules of the governing bodies”, explains Simon.

Sometimes opportunity is also the poor cousin of motivation, if managers forget to create the right kind of environment for people to be successful. It’s all well and good, for example, to take employees with high potential through a rigorous MBA training programme but they need the opportunity to try out some of the newly acquired board level skills in practice.

It is important to realise that each component of PAMO is multiplied by the others – and we as individuals and teams are often limited by the weakest component of the equation. For example, think about managers carrying out appraisals. They communicate well with colleagues and their teams (score 100 points). But they are motivated to complete appraisals simply to satisfy HR (score 0 points). They complete all appraisals on time (score 100 points). Probably their teams and direct reports sense they were simply “ticking the box”, rather than genuinely guiding and nurturing discussions around appraisals. Performance 0 = Ability 100 x Motivation 0 x Opportunity 100

Performance improves through “mutuality”, when individuals and teams want to change the behaviour that has led to non-performance. And changing behaviour can only happen if we are both able and motivated to change. Most of us start to forget what we have learned after 48 hours, so make sure you’ve thought through how you’ll nurture change and practice newly learned skills or way of working.

To keep PAMO at the front of mind, we’ve done an infographic summarising the key points. Download and print it HERE

We’d love to hear about your views about performance and change. Please do drop us a line here or if you think this all makes good sense, do re-tweet this blog and share with anyone who could do with a bit of PAMO before they start their next round of performance discussions.