Performance = Behavior + Results

How do you know when an employee’s performance is good? How do you know when your business’s performance is good? To answer these questions, first we need to examine the concept of “performance.”

What is performance, and how can you improve it? When you break it down, “performance” includes 2 important components.

  1. Behavior.
  2. Results.

Let’s assume you are an athlete in a race. The “results” are your placement in the race. The “behavior” is everything leading up to and including the race itself. Behavior includes preparation, training, research, practice, education, participation, etc. Would you expect to win a race if you hadn’t trained? Probably not.

Results do not equal performance.

We live in a results-driven world. Too frequently, we forget to focus on the behaviors that produced the results. In business, we commonly focus only on the money. We equate less money to poor performance. When cash flow slows down, many businesses externalize the problem and fail to recognize (or admit) their own behaviors that led to the decrease in funds.

Did sales decrease because the economy is slowing down? Or did they decrease because you stopped following up with prospects? It’s the same in reverse – increased cash flow most often occurs because of increased sales behavior.

What about employee performance? How do you decide who is the best “performer” on your sales team? Is it the person who sells the most? Performance is more than results. Behavior differentiates performance from luck (or worse – cheating). Perhaps that successful salesperson follows a regular routine of following up with leads and building brand confidence. These behaviors lead to sales.

What if that employee is just lucky? It’s entirely possible that your “top” salesperson happened to call a prospect that was already planning to make a purchase from your company. Should that salesperson be rewarded for the sale if the sale would have occurred without their assistance?

Cheating is another potential cause of results without behavior. You may win the race without practice….. if you cheat. Sadly, not everyone is perfectly ethical. For example, we all heard about the 2016 announcement from Wells Fargo regarding employees opening accounts without customer consent( This fraudulent activity was a direct result of improper sales practices where employees were rewarded for the number of new accounts opened – without regard to the needs of the customers. The employees were rewarded based on results – not performance. At Wells Fargo’s own admittance, focusing only on results and ignoring behavior was a mistake that cost them millions.

Good behavior does not equal good performance.

If you have not changed your good business behavior but suddenly find that you’ve stopped growing, it’s time for a change. Keep in mind – the previous sentence rings true for businesses as well as for individual employees. From a business perspective, it’s time to pivot. From an employee perspective, it’s time for a new job function – inside or outside of your existing company. Some of the best employees in your company may be failing to produce results because you have not given them the proper tools needed to be successful. The athlete will not win the race by running on the wrong track. Your employees will not make sales if there is no market need for the product they are selling.

To improve your performance, pay attention to both behavior and results.