Nov 162011

Strategic Performance: Difference Between Capability and Performance

Strategic Performance: By Monica Drakes Lane , Principal Consultant – Performance Improvement and Change Execution for Exemplary Performance, LLC , November 11th, 2011

A participant of our recent webinar “Performance Consulting Tips: Ask Powerful Questions to Achieve Results” asked the question, “What is the difference between capability and performance?” Really great question.  And one that unfortunately does not come up enough during client conversations. Many times capability and performance are assumed to be the same thing.

The difference between capability, also known as competency, and performance can be illustrated in the following example. Both an airline pilot and an accountant need the competency “Attention to Detail.” However, being able to properly use the competency on the job determines their competence or performance. You wouldn’t want your accountant to land your plane nor would you want your pilot to prepare your taxes.

Capabilities/Competencies alone do not bring value to the business. A performer can possess the desired competencies and still not be performing. There are many other factors that can affect performance. Therefore a solid understanding of how competencies show up on the job in the form of competence or performance is critical. Understanding the desired performance provides an objective measure of whether competencies are being used in the optimal way to produce desired results, and ultimately bring value to the business.


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