<Back to Articles Page
The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
lead to solutions, November 18, 2007, 2D.
automobiles have performance problems, they typically end up at repair shops for help.
Part of the mechanics job is to listen to the vehicle owners
description of the things wrong with the automobile in order to figure out how to fix the
problem. Likewise, when a sick patient visits a doctor for help, the doctor will ask
the patient to describe the symptoms that he or she is experiencing. Doctors also
typically ask additional questions to the patient to help pinpoint the source of the
problem. Both mechanics and doctors seek to fully diagnose and understand their
patients problems before they develop appropriate solutions. Only when
problems are clearly defined can solutions to remedy the problems be designed.
automobile experiencing brake problems does not need a new radiator and one experiencing
problems with overheating probably does not need new brakes. Likewise, a patient
experiencing fever and congestion does not need a solution remedy for an ingrown toenail.
Solutions must be designed to treat the root problems and ailments.
workers experience performance problems at work, it is often the manager who must diagnose
and develop remedies to those problems. If employee performance is suffering, it is
a symptom of a motivation problem, an ability problem, or a combination of the two.
For employees to successfully accomplish their work, they must want to and be
able to perform.
theory gives explanation for why people want to do things. Receipt of extrinsic and
intrinsic rewards, goal attainment, avoidance of punishment, fulfillment of needs, and
maintenance of perceptions of equity and fairness are some of the ways that employee
motivation has been conceptualized and studied. Ability problems stem from
inadequate or improper experience and training or a lack of organizational resources
(e.g., physical, human, financial, or technological) and other types of organizational
support (e.g., priorities, politics, permissions, etc.). Without motivation and ability, performance will not occur.
must accurately determine whether performance problems arise from issues of motivation or
ability. If the true reason for poor performance is an employees restricted
access to timely and necessary information, it makes no sense to try to remedy performance
with the use of rewards or punishments. Likewise, when employee motivation is the
problem, it would be wasteful to throw additional financial or human resources at the
problem. The solution must fit the true problem.
and doctors diagnose problems and then design solutions to remedy them. They
actively listen to their customers and patients and ask probing questions to accurately
pinpoint the causes of the problems. Mechanics and doctors also know their subjects
extremely well. Through training, education, and apprenticeships, they develop
expertise in how their subjects work and understand exactly how to repair and bring them
back to health.
and organizational leaders should actively communicate and interact with their people to
understand and foresee performance problems. They should also invest considerable
time and effort studying how organizations function and operate. Only then can
performance problems be identified and solved most effectively.
to Articles Page