Performance Facilitation Model

The Performance Facilitation Model is intended to provide performance consultants with a proactive, solution-focused template.  This template continuously engenders the support of both the personnel with the performance gap and the manager of the affected function.  Through this continuous involvement, the Performance Facilitation Model creates awareness, ownership, and commitment to the success of the selected solution(s). 

The stages in the Performance Facilitation Model are sequenced to create the highest probability of success in selling the performance solution.  After the initial contact uncovers the symptoms of the current level of performance, the complete condition must be mapped.  The next stages help the affected performers and their manager define potential solutions with more possibility thinking than assumed barriers.  The list of potential solutions is narrowed down to a select few so that only those with the greatest potential for success are proposed to the owner of the performance gap.  Finally, the role of the performance consultant is to manage the implementation of the final solution(s) and report on the outcomes and lessons learned.  Each element of the model is focused toward optimal results and, though it may prove tempting, eliminating steps or taking shortcuts can have a negative impact on the results of the final solution or lead to an inappropriate solution altogether.

This eight-stage model for improving performance can be implemented at the team, departmental, divisional, and organizational level.  With slight modification it can also be applied at the individual level.  Quite often individual performance issues are not limited to just one individual, in which case this model can be applied as presented.




When the initial request comes in for the performance consultant to intervene, the opportunity should be taken to begin the initial assessment of the performance gap.  The initial contact will most likely generate information about symptoms instead of root causes, but it might successfully turn the performance consultant's attention toward the general area with the greatest leverage and opportunities.

The initial request should be used to ask the following questions:

  1. What incident/symptom prompted this request?
    This question will indicate the highest point of leverage to start with because this is probably the greatest point of pain at the present moment.
  2. What is the current performance?  Why is that?  Why is that?  Why is that?  Why is that?  Why is that?  Why is that? 
    The 5-Y method allows the performance consultant to drill down closer to the root cause, at least in the opinion of the person who is making the initial request for help.
  3. What is the desired performance?  In a perfect world (or if you could magically make the situation perfect) what would the process look like?
    This allows the person who was told to contact the performance consultant to be a possibility thinker.  This can be an indication of how adaptable the affected performers and/or the owner of the performance gap might be.
  4. Who is affected by the gap between current and desired performance?   How are they affected?
    This line of questioning helps the performance consultant recognize the scope of the gap.
  5. What are the effects, side effects, and after effects of the gap?  How frequent are each of the effects?  How severe are each of the effects?  What are the costs of each effect?













These questions help the performance consultant identify trends and relationships.

  1. Would the gap disappear if the performers' lives depended on it?  How?
    Discover whether the contact person has an idea for a solution and what that might be.  At the same time the performance consultant potentially eliminates training as a solution.  If the performers could do it when forced then they must have the skills and knowledge.
  2. What is currently being measured that would improve if the gap was eliminated?  How would it be improved?
    Begin to look for the metrics that will serve to measure the quantifiable value of the solution.
  3. Is the gap in performance large enough to need a solution?  Is the gap in performance important enough to warrant a solution?  Is the gap in performance expensive enough to attract the necessary resources?
    The performance consultant must decide if the request is a priority and how much effort should be expended.
  4. Who owns the performance gap?
    The performance consultant must create an alliance or partnership with the highest-ranking individual in the organization that is affected by the gap.  In order to continue with the investigation the performance consultant must secure the commitment, support and permission of the gap owner.  This individual will become the sponsor of this initiative.



The current performance of the affected individual, team, function, or organization must be accurately defined or the selected solutions will be inappropriate and ineffective.  The final objective will not be accurately documented in the next step and all of the remaining stages will be energy expended in vain.

Darin Ulmer developed the Performance System Model used here.  It is based on his years of soft skills performance interventions and counseling at the individual, family, team, organizational, and corporate levels.  It contains the same elements that he uses to facilitate the development and alignment of vision, mission, strategic objectives, action plans, image attributes, and value statements, as well as the elements of his competency mapping/modeling programs that are used to select, develop and retain high performance employees.

Create a Performance Map

Define the current inputs, performance and outputs by inquiry and observation of the affected area(s).  There are literally thousands of questions that could be asked in order to define the actual state of each element of the Performance Map.  In general, start with alignment of all elements, congruency between words and actions, and causal relationships between each element and the level of performance.


Performance Map

       © 1998 by Darin Ulmer

INPUTS                                PERFORMANCE                            OUTPUTS

1. Data                         External                     Internal                     1. Knowledge

2. Resources                   Climate            Willingness       Ability              2. Products/Services

3. Consequences            Goals               Perception            Capacity          3. Customer Satisfaction


                                    Processes         Attitude            Knowledge


                                                            Behaviors       Skills


The Performance Map shows that inputs and outputs are directly related:

        Data is converted to new knowledge.

        Resources are converted to products and services.

        Consequences are converted to internal and external customer satisfaction.

The conditions affecting performance include external and internal forces on the performer(s).  External to the performer's control and person, the Climate affects the setting of Goals which dictate the required organizational Structure that is supported by the functional Processes as performed by the Stakeholders.  The theory supporting the willingness of the performer(s) is based on Darin Ulmer's metatheory of personality.  In its simplest terms: Perception creates Attitude, which is manifested as Behaviors.  There are endless complexities that intertwine willingness and ability, but models are made to simplify.  Therefore, a performer's Capacity to perform allows them to gain Knowledge.  Knowledge then supports the ability to develop and hone Skills.

When viewing the model in this order it should also be noted that effective solutions get more expensive and involved from left to right.  It easier to develop solutions that modify the inputs than it is to change the external forces.  The external forces are less expensive to impact than the performer's willingness or ability.

After completing the Performance Map, select at least two analysis tools to further investigate the current state.  Using only one tool or stopping with the Performance Map will result in potentially flawed data.  Seeking quantified or qualified data to support the initial assessment created with the Performance Map will strengthen the case for change.

Review the results of each tool, including the map, for possible bias.  If bias was not present in at least two of the three measures then continue with the process.

Finally, document the actual state of current performance.



If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.  Or is it that no road will take you there?  Performance consultants must have a target that each project is shooting for.  Without defining the final objective the rest of the process will be flawed.

It is critical to the success of a performance solution that the outcome can be defined given the following criteria:

        Conditions - the conditions required in the environment for the solution to work

        Audience - the performers

        Behavior - the act of performing (as stated with a verb), only use a behavior that can be demonstrated, observed/measured, and developed

        Location - where the performance will take place

        Frequency - how often the behavior must be exhibited

        Degree - the required level of performance

        Metrics - how the behavior will be measured or observed

For example: When given C all A will be able to B in L F times per day resulting in D M.

The performance consultant should solicit the perfect world scenario from both the affected performers and the owner of the performance gap.  It is imperative that the audience removes negative, barrier-focused speech in stating the possibilities.  If there were no barriers to performance, i.e. all resources were available when needed and were of highest quality, the organizational environment was supportive and aligned around the success of the affected performers, and every member of the team was willing and able, what would be the values of each of the stated criteria?  Assumptions will limit the possibilities that are considered and fear can limit the ambition of the criteria.  Performance consultants must facilitate a safe, positive and future-focused discussion to get at the best possible results.

The expected performance must be validated for relevance prior to use.  Benchmark the ideal performance objective against comparable performance in the same industry and organization and in other teams or individuals.  Create a ladder of performance with at least five levels of mastery from novice to peak performance.  Each level should be differentiated by no more than ten characteristics.  A clear demarcation must emerge at each milestone.

Documenting current performance in the same language will help the performance consultant create a clear understanding of the gap between current and desired performance.



Once a performance consultant has a beginning and ending point, the path can be readily identified.  This should not be done independently of the affected parties.  The ideal solution is a classic brainstorming session. 

The performance consultant must list the things that would have to be:





in order for performance to improve.  The resulting list will guide the facilitated brainstorming session.

The performance consultant's partner (who is also the sponsor of the project and the owner of the gap) and the affected performers brainstorm potential solutions for each of the four changes.  Again, the participants in this stage must be possibility-thinkers instead of limited by assumptions.  Artificial barriers will severely limit the possibilities that will be explored.  As the solutions are generated, the performance consultant should add value to the storm of ideas with stories or hints that produce new directions that the participants would not have considered.  Selecting the most appropriate solutions will come later.

Before the brainstorming session concludes, the participants should briefly outline the steps that are required by each potential solution.  The affected parties have the best idea of what steps would be required and the generation of the steps, even in smaller break out groups, begins the process of anticipating change.  Each list of steps should include:

        Resources - supplies, materials, costs

        Roles - the persons who would have to be involved and their associated responsibilities

        Time - a brief timeline

        Outcome - participants should predict the outcome of each potential solution



For every potential solution it is the responsibility of the performance consultant to weigh the possibility for inclusion in the final proposal to the performance gap owner. 

Which potential solutions are most ethical in their approach?  If you answer 'yes' to any of the first 7 questions or 'no' to any of the final three then the solution you are qualifying should be eliminated from consideration.  If you don't know the answer, find someone who does.

  1. Will the solution create arbitrary or capricious behavior?
  2. Will the solution unfairly single out a person or group?
  3. Will the solution violate personal or cultural absolutes?
  4. Is there an alternative that is less likely to harm people or the organization?
  5. Will the solution create performance problems for other areas?
  6. Does the solution create a personal or professional conflict of interest?
  7. Does the solution allow power to be abused?
  8. Does the solution respect privacy and confidentiality?
  9. Can the solution be implemented as promised and within budget?
  10. Is the solution based on a complete understanding of the performance gap?

Narrow the list of potential solutions even further using the following success criteria:

  1. Is the owner of the performance gap far enough up the organization chart to supply the required resources for solution implementation?
  2. Does the solution capitalize on existing strengths and talents?
  3. Do hub personnel/informal leaders support the potential solution?
  4. Can the solution be initially applied as a pilot program with quick results?
  5. Will combined or altered solutions provide more favorable outcomes?

If the answer is 'yes' to the first 4 questions and 'no' to the last question then the solution under review should remain under consideration.  If no solutions meet all five success criteria, keep those that meet four out of five success criteria.

There should be no more than 20 potential solutions under consideration once the initial qualifying criteria have been applied.  The remaining solutions are most beneficial/least harmful and have the highest probability for successful implementation.  The affected performers and the gap owner will make the final cuts that bring the list down to five or less.

Impact Elements

The brainstorm team could do this at the end of the brainstorming day or they can be brought together again to complete the next task.  The gap owner and the affected performers must prioritize the following list.  A forced sort of the following Impact Elements will provide the final ranking of the potential solutions.

What elements are most important when considering each of the potential solutions?

Resources required to fully implement            Feasible

Total cost of the solution                               Ambitious

Short-term results                                       Aligned with the organizational culture

Long-term results                                       Positive effects on individual employees

Aligned with the organizational vision    Ease of implementation

Appropriate in the eyes of management            Does not create new problems

Beneficial in the eyes of the customer            Comprehensive

The performance consultant is responsible for weighing each of the remaining solutions in each of the Impact Elements.  Looking at the weight of each potential solution after the Impact Elements have been prioritized will leave a clear ranking of the final solutions.  The top three to five will be taken into the next stage.



A proposal should be generated for each of the three to five remaining solutions.  Performance consultants should create a template to follow in creating proposals.  A template is required so that side-by-side comparisons can be easily made.  The proposal template should include:

        Current state of performance

        Steps listed in order with the predicted outcome of each step or features of the solution and benefits of each feature

        Predicted final sustainable outcome including the impact that the solution would have across each element of the Performance Map and the metrics that will be tracked

        Resources and investment required for full implementation

The performance consultant must not only present the proposals to the gap owner, he or she should help the gap owner present the proposals to those in the organization that are required to sign the Performance Improvement Contract (or whatever document commits the necessary resources and permission for implementation).  The ultimate goal in this stage is to gather the necessary signatures.



Prior to starting any intervention the metrics that will prove efficacy must be selected and measured.  The actual application of the Performance Facilitation Model creates improved performance due to the Hawthorne Effect (attention to a problem creates some improvement).  To ensure effective measurement of the performance consultant's efforts, the metrics should be measured twelve and six months prior to the initial inquiry, on the date of inquiry, at least two times during implementation of the solution, and six and twelve months after completing the implementation.  Collecting pre-inquiry data forces the performance consultant to use metrics that already exist in the organization.  Because the data is already being collected the metrics must be valued.

The performance consultant must gather the affected performers and the gap owner to kick off the implementation of the chosen solution(s).  The kick off meeting is an opportunity to communicate the performance objective and what will be measured.  The participants will then generate the details/steps of the plan and assign all roles, responsibilities, resources, timeframes/milestones, and consequences for each step.  The participants must also commit to the final plan.

After facilitating the development of the plan the performance consultant is responsible for supporting the implementation.  This means not only assisting in the securing of required resources or referrals, but holding affected performers and the gap owner accountable for meeting their commitments as outlined in the plan.  This can be done through coaching or mentoring as well as through job aids.

Reports must be generated to display progress and milestones.  If things are not proceeding as planned, the performance consultant should hold contingency meetings to modify the plan and document next steps.  The reports will also capture the progress according to the metrics being used.

The performance consultant should also facilitate celebration of success.  Performers and gap owners often forget to celebrate success along the way.  Such acknowledgement of progress increases the likelihood of continued success.



The final task for the performance consultant is to document the final outcomes.  Using the metrics that were selected during the process, performance improvements should be quantified and reported.  The new techniques, ideas, or knowledge that were generated during the process and implementation should also be documented for distribution throughout the organization.  Sharing best practices will help promote the value of the performance consulting function within the organization at the same time that it attracts additional business.

The final report should trace the roadmap that was generated from the initial inquiry to the conclusion of the solution.  This includes:

        Initial and final states of performance

        Original and modified solution(s) with tangible (metrics) and intangible results of each solution implemented

        Total time, cost and other resources utilized

        New knowledge generated and key learning points


The performance consultant acts as a process facilitator and subject matter resource to the affected parties. Guiding the inquiry, investigation, generation, selection, and implementation of the performance improvement solution requires both technical expertise and effective intrapersonal skills. In the end, the affected parties own both their performance and the effectiveness of the implemented solution.

This model capitalizes on the best practices of adult learning theory, action planning, and performance technology.  The Performance Facilitation Model and Performance Map have been influenced by the research of psychologists (Robert Mills Gagné, Howard Gardner, Reuven Bar-On), instructional designers (Joe Harless, Donald Kirkpatrick, Robert Glaser), performance engineers (Tom Gilbert, Bob Mager, Roger Addison, Geary Rummler, Alan Brache), and a few management gurus (Ken Blanchard, Steven Covey, Chris Argyis, Peter Senge, Dave Ulrich) who did a nice job of synthesizing concepts from the fields of organizational development, change management, business process reengineering, and training & development.  There is also a considerable amount of influence on my style from partnerships I have had with consultants (Tom Crane, Michael Friedman, Pauline Lyttle) over the years and the articles I have read in Fast Company magazine.


The Performance Facilitation Model © 2000 by Darin Ulmer. email phone:(281) 685-6378  All rights reserved.


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