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Performance level

When we talk about a motivated employee, we're talking about someone who wants to invest themselves in their work, with the aim of continually improving their performance.

In common parlance, we don't consider an employee to be motivated if the only reason he or she comes to work is because of his or her salary. There are many semantic differences in the use of the words "motivation" and "motivated". We've already come across this distinction between the common meaning of the word "leader" and that of the word "leadership".

The same applies to the words "performance" in the plural and "performance" in the singular.

Achieving performance does not have the same meaning as measuring performance. For one, it's a feat, and for the other, standard production values.

So when we talk about a high-performing employee, we're really talking about one who produces "better" than the average. And if we consider that an employee has increased his or her performance, it's because he or she has exceeded his or her average production figures.

Nominal performance, on the other hand, is the estimated performance that the individual or team is capable of achieving under conditions of optimum satisfaction.

These conditions include adequate equipment, pleasant interpersonal relations and a sufficient level of hierarchical trust.

This nominal value is impossible to define, as systemic factors are so numerous and difficult to control. However, it is possible to evaluate it on the basis of average performance in relation to the particular conditions in which the work was carried out.

What is the purpose of this value? It helps us to understand the impact of motivation on mobilization better, and therefore on performance.

By definition, nominal performance is produced by a team or an individual when they are working at their optimum level of satisfaction.

We have seen that this first level of satisfaction does not increase performance. Indeed, offering a computer that is too powerful for its intended use does not increase performance. Nor do green plants or fruit in the cafeteria.

Conversely, a salary that is perceived as too high develops a form of laziness and has a negative impact on performance1, just as an insufficient level of satisfaction linked to frustrations or a feeling of inequity significantly reduces performance.

Achieving this nominal level of performance is virtually impossible on the basis of satisfaction factors alone. To reach it, and even exceed it, we need to play on motivational factors, by stimulating involvement and commitment.

Nevertheless, working to eliminate the main sources of dissatisfaction is the most important task to consider before moving on to the next. It is often easier to master than the sources of involvement and commitment.

To sum up, if you want to maintain a level of performance over time, focus your efforts on reducing sources of dissatisfaction.

If you need to increase that level of performance, take your mobilization to the next level by stimulating motivational factors.

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    cfr le chapitre sur le paradoxe de la motivation intrinsèque et les études menées par Dan Ariely.