The Value of Performance Pinpoints

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In an effort to improve performance in your fast lube operation do you suppose the following comments, from a manager to employees, are helpful observations; “You’re lazy;” “you’re messy;” “you’re too slow;” “you’re bad with customers;” “you’re not a team player.” There are probably those who would say, “Yes, those comments are being direct and are an example of a manager facing performance issues head on!”

OK, if those are the comments of a manager attempting to improve employee performance, then we need to consider the manager’s observations from the employee’s perspective. The important question to be answered — from the employee’s viewpoint — is, “What can I do with those observations to change what I’m doing and improve my performance?”

Unfortunately, a typical employee won’t ask that question. Instead after hearing comments like those they’ll probably think, “This person doesn’t like me. I need to start looking for another job.”

The objective of a fast lube manager should be to improve the performance of each of his/her employees. With consistent improvement of every employee’s performance, the entire operation improves, the facilities look better, each customer has a better experience and sales improve. The success of the entire operation hinges on the performance of every employee.

This column will clearly demonstrate how the proper use of performance pinpoints, instead of general comments like “you’re lazy” and “you’re messy,” will notably improve each employee’s performance and the success of the entire operation.

Performance Pinpoints

As a manager, Jim learned what worked when it came to getting his employees to do a better job. The lesson hit home after an employee crew meeting when Jim told his employee, Albert, “You’re not very enthusiastic!” Having heard Jim’s assessment about his lack of enthusiasm Albert responded, “Oh, well what do you want?”

Up until that point, Jim had been making the assumption when he described an employee’s performance his staff naturally understood what he expected. He thought incorrectly. Just because people worked around him didn’t mean they understood what words like enthusiastic meant to him. Simple words like enthusiastic are actually non-behaviors. Managers often use words like these to describe the type of performance and behavior they expect. Such descriptions are non-behaviors because they really don’t tell the performer what they can do to improve, and they leave the expected behavior open to interpretation. That’s why pinpoints are so valuable when it comes to improving


A good way of knowing the difference between a behavior and a non-behavior is demonstrated in the following chart:




Calls customers by name, assists with children, opens doors…

Positive attitude

Makes helpful suggestions, asks what can be done to help…


Comes to work late, doesn’t complete job duties, always taking breaks…


Uniform is always dirty, work area is not kept organized…















In Jim’s situation, referring to Albert as “not very enthusiastic,” Albert’s response was most appropriate, “What do you want?” After all, what was Albert supposed to do with a comment that labeled him as not enthusiastic? Unwittingly, Jim had begun to transform a good employee — who until that moment, had very positive feelings about the job he was doing — into an employee who now felt badly and wondered about his status. The result was entirely unintended by Jim, but one non-descript phrase transformed a valuable staff member into one who was less likely to perform at his best.

Using performance pinpoints simply means instead of saying, “Albert, you’re not very enthusiastic,” Jim should have said something like, “Albert, I noticed you were a bit quiet in the crew meeting. I was hoping you would volunteer to help with the pit clean-up project. I also thought you might make a few suggestions about the customer service training class. You’re great at customer service. I just want you to contribute more comments because you’re a leader.”

Comments such as those would have had an entirely different effect on Albert. Why, because now he had specifics (pinpoints) about what was expected and what he could do to change:

·       Volunteer to assist with the clean-up project

·       Make comments about customer service training

·       Contribute more input during crew meetings

All of these pinpoints are active, which means they require a behavior that is within the performer’s control. All of these points were within Albert’s control. He could actually do something about each one of them. Also, Albert would have come away from the meeting having been reinforced about something he did well — customer service — and would have felt valued and appreciated.

The point is, using easy phrases may quickly communicate how you’re feeling about the performance you have observed but can have a truly negative effect on the performance you desire from your employees! On the other hand, pinpointing the behaviors you expect, will more likely payoff in the response you want to see from your employees.

Evaluating Performance Pinpoints

If you want to determine if you’re using an affective performance pinpoint, use the following checklist. Make a check mark in the column that best applies to the performance pinpoint checker below. Describe the performance pinpoint: Don’t be lazy.

·       Does your staff member have control over the pinpoint? Y___ N___

·       Can you observe that it is being done? Y ___ N ___

·       Is the performance pinpoint active? (Does the performer understand what to do about it?) Y ___ N___

If you can’t answer yes to all three, the performance pinpoint is not effective. For example, you will find a phrase like, “you’re lazy,” is not an effective performance pinpoint and will not pass the pinpoint check test.

On the other hand, you will find the following pinpoint will pass the check test: Contribute suggestions during staff meetings.

·       Does your staff member have control over the pinpoint? Y___ N___

·       Can you observe that it is being done? Y ___ N ___

·       Is the performance pinpoint active? (Does performer understand what to do about it?) Y ___ N___

The performance pinpoint check test may take a bit of your time, but when there is so much at stake, with respect to employee performance and the results they will produce for your operation, I’m confident it’s worth your investment in time and effort.

Make the Choice

Jim had a choice — take the easy road and make quick, easy, comments about performance, which produce no effective results or consider changing those comments into performance pinpoints that his employees could actually use to change their performance. Jim made the choice. Employee turnover at the time he started managing the center was 400-percent annualized. Turnover following the change, over three years, was less than 100-percent annualized. The choice is yours!

PAUL HALOULOS is a trade marketing manager for BP Lubricants USA, Inc. He may be reached at: To learn more about Castrol products and programs in general, please call 888.CASTROL or visit:


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