businessman pressing performance button on virtual screens with hexagons and transparent honeycomb
ATD Blog

Take Time to Dig Into the Performance Issue

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How many times have you been asked to create a training course, even though the person asking you to do so hasn’t consulted with you on the performance issue involved, and you don’t know what it is? Too often, a training program simply offers the pretense of addressing an issue, without actually getting to its underlying cause. In “Get the Whole Picture With a Performance Assessment,” Hadiya Nuriddin explains when a more thorough review is needed.

Nuriddin writes, “An analysis focuses on what is happening and why, and the assessment is concerned about the quality and impact of what is happening.” A performance assessment, notes Nuriddin, “provides the opportunity to uncover the ways work is done well, how performance may be falling short, and how both influence the success of the organization.”

Learning about the desired performance is an important first step. To complete a performance assessment project, you must understand what your purpose is. That is the central question, and it must be focused on performance, rather than knowledge; must be simple; must have the approval of stakeholders; and must focus on what is happening rather than what is not happening. A good central question would be something like, “How are managers supporting employee performance on the job?”

After you have developed your central question, you can strategize about the scope of your project, its timeline, and the people who will need to be involved. The scope will involve the goals of the project, deliverables, deadlines, and costs.
Collecting data, conducting interviews, and implementing surveys make up the “conducting the assessment” step of the five-step performance assessment process. During this step, you learn about “why a specific performance is needed and how it relates to the organization’s goals,” writes Nuriddin.

In conducting your surveys, Nuriddin recommends you use multiple-choice questions with comment boxes. The multiple-choice aspect of the survey will give you concrete answers, while the comment field provides respondents with the opportunity to expound on the issue.


The author also recommends that you ask respondents to answer questions about the overall performance of the team, not just about their own performance. Respondents may be more objective about commenting on the team than they are when assessing their own behavior.

A short questionnaire is likely to garner a greater response rate than a longer survey, and tell you much more about the performance challenge.


Similar to survey questions that are multiple choice but allow for comment, interview questions that are both open- and closed-ended can give you concrete information with context.

After you have collected information, prepared a report on your findings, and identified the solution, it is time to communicate that solution recommendation. Nuriddin suggests the following:

  • Create a short summary version and send it to participants in advance of the meeting.
  • Be clear and concise when explaining your recommended solution.
  • Include stakeholders—make them feel like part of the journey to that solution.

And finally, “Be ready to address the possible consequences of not implementing your solutions. Because there is no one way to facilitate performance, any recommendation you make is vulnerable,” Nuriddin advises.

Learn more about the performance assessment process and how to implement it in your organization by reading, “Get the Whole Picture With a Performance Assessment.”

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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