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Posted: April 15, 2013

The conditions of job success—and failure

What's your experience been?

Timothy LaMacchio

(Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series.)

Look back over your career.  Different companies.  Different managers.  Different roles.  Different responsibilities.  Different projects.  Different goals.

Using this career review, identity two different situations or outcomes.  In one situation, you were successful --- a star employee.  In another, you were less than successful --- perhaps a complete failure. 

How were these two situations different?

What enabled success in one situation? Was it brute force --- working harder and longer?

What contributed to failure in another situation?  Were you just lazy?

To help compare these different outcomes, try this simple diagnostic evaluation: 

In which situation (success or failure) did you clearly understand the goals or definition of success?

In which situation (success or failure) did you receive information about your progress, or lack of progress, toward the goals?

In which situation (success or failure) were the tools, material, equipment, and people supporting your work available and easy to use?

In which situation (success or failure) did formal and informal consequences encourage work that contributed to the accomplishment of the goal?

In which situation (success or failure) did you have the education, understanding, and expertise needed to accomplish the goal?

In which situation (success or failure) did you have the aptitude and abilities needed to accomplish the goal?

If you are like most professionals, six conditions played a key role in influencing your ability to be successful --- or less than successful.  These performance-influencing conditions provide professionals the support and structure they need to be successful in their job:

Condition #1: Clear Management Expectations

Successful employees receive clear management expectations and directions that are based upon established outcomes or goals.

Condition #2: Useful Performance Feedback

Successful employees receive usable feedback indicating progress, or lack of progress, toward meeting management expectations.

Condition #3: Supporting Resources

Successful employees find the resources they need to be successful in their job readily available, easy to access, and simple to use.

Condition #4: Aligned Incentives

Successful employees encounter everyday incentives or consequences that encourage job success.

Condition #5: Job Knowledge and Skills

Successful employees have the knowledge and skills needed to meet their manager’s expectations.

Condition #6: Natural Capabilities

Successful employees have the natural capabilities needed to meet their manager’s expectations.

Regardless of your role, these six conditions have a significant influence on your performance.

If you are a manager building a high-performance team --- use these six conditions as guideposts to your daily management.  If you are a professional seeking the support and structure you need to perform at high levels, engage your manager to help fulfill these six conditions.  

Part two of this three part series builds upon these descriptions.  It will prepare you to create these conditions for yourself or your team by providing greater and actionable understanding.  Part three provides examples that guide your efforts to leverage these high-performing conditions.

Share your experience with these six conditions of success with other professionals by leaving a reader comment on these questions:

  1. Which of these conditions has most influenced your ability to be successful in your job?
  2. Which of these conditions do you find most lacking in your job?

What actions can you take to provide these conditions for yourself or your team?

Timothy LaMacchio is the owner of A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, he works with organizations to connect everyday “desk-level” work to strategic business goals. Tim solves a problems root cause --- not just the symptoms.  His practical solutions develop people and the environment people need to perform. Tim's work is about providing new knowledge and skills and achieving business results. Contact Timothy at or 303.917.5775

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

I would say one additional element of success is necessary; interest in what you do. Finding meaning in what you do, or having a genuine concern for the results of your career, beyond remuneration and benefits, is a pivotal and crucial aspect to your success. The other 6 are important and catalyze success, but caring about the purpose of your job, whether authentic or not, does impact your ability to do it well. That's not to say one can't find value in menial work, but one finds greater success when they care about the purpose of work beyond personal benefit. By Frank Kinder on 2013 04 16
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