Do you have employees who are hardworking but not productive, or who are your star performers but difficult to manage? Do you struggle to encourage your employees to take initiative in their existing role or go beyond their job description? What about those who demonstrate neither expected productivity nor pleasant citizenship behavior? How do you measure the performance of each group? As a leader or manager in your company, do you have a crystal clear understanding of different performance issues? Do you know exactly what you are evaluating when it comes to an employee performance review? These questions are worth considering if you desire to manage your employees in an effective manner.

Research shows that there are three types of performance: task performance, citizenship performance, and interestingly, counterproductive performance.

  • Task performance, also known as “in-role” performance, are outcomes of work activities that contribute to organizational goals. This performance is delineated in the formal job description and is expected of the employee as a member of the organization. Task performance is formally measured in performance evaluations, by the degree to which an employee meets the quantity and quality standards for his or her job responsibilities. This type of performance is strictly task-related and the criteria are usually well-defined.
  • Citizenship performance is also known as “extra-role” performance, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) or contextual performance. It focuses on the outcomes of employees’ discretionary behaviors that go beyond formal job descriptions and contribute to the creation and maintenance of a healthy social and psychological work environment. Unlike task performance that is expected, citizenship performance is not concerned about task-related output; instead, it is voluntary and intrinsically motivated. Therefore, organizations may or may not measure this type of performance.
  • Counterproductive performance, more often known as counterproductive work behavior (CWB), is any intentional or unintentional adverse behavior that will hold an organization back from achieving productivity goals. Counterproductive behavior can take many forms: difficult personalities that damage teamwork, cyber loafing that reduces productivity, tardiness and absenteeism that lowers employee morale, workplace incivility that weakens your corporate culture and embezzling or theft that undermines your company’s financial well-being.

So, what can you do with this knowledge?

While you can’t eliminate counterproductive work behaviors that could lead to poor task and citizenship performance, you can set up mechanisms to control or minimize them.

  • Consider incorporating all three types of performance into your employment process, from candidate selection and performance management to rewards and recognition.
  • When recruiting new employees, look for the predictors of all three types of performance. Personality and competency assessment will provide you with some useful insights.
  • For performance management, have policies in place to prevent the occurrence of counterproductive behaviors and follow strictly the protocols to handle them immediately when they occur.
  • In addition, define criteria that will measure all three types of performance, not just task performance.
  • Lastly, recognize and reward, not exclusively, work behaviors that contribute to your organization’s business goals, as well as positive discretionary behaviors that support the long-term health of your organization.

Every distributor strives for optimal performance, because performance excellence will set you apart from your competitors and reward you with sustainable growth. In today’s knowledge economy, having employees who simply follow their job descriptions and complete assigned tasks is no longer a competitive advantage. To rise above marketplace competition, you need employees who are willing to go above and beyond prescribed responsibilities to drive innovation.

Therefore, if you haven’t done so in your current performance management practices, it is time to expand your focus on task-centered performance to encourage proactive work behaviors from your employees.

Learn more new ideas and best practices, and get step-by-step practical guidance by reading Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Talent Strategy. Use this tool to achieve business excellence by maximizing your human capital potential!