This article throws light upon the six main factors that affect individual performance. The factors are: 1. Motivation 2. Competence 3. Ability 4. Role Perception 5. Resources 6. Work Place Environment.

Factor # 1. Motivation:

Motivation is the primary force that drives a person to action. It has a multiplier effect on increasing his ability and willingness to work. Motivation engages him in goal-directed behavior which helps in satisfying his needs. It is, therefore, the prime force that promotes job performance.

Human resource is one of the key organizational factors for business success. Individual effectiveness reflects his knowledge, abilities, skills and characteristics. In order to achieve goals of the organization, employees must be highly motivated. Competent employees are always proposed with competitive remunerative schemes. Motivation is important for human resource management to recognise the relationship between job performance and motivation.

Factor # 2. Competence:

Individual performance is also affected by his competence to perform the job. Competence means the extent to which a person regards himself capable of performing the job. It indicates that a person has control of events occurring within and outside the organization rather that the events have control over him.


People who control the events have internal locus of control and those who are affected by events beyond their control have external locus of control Competent people perform better than others and have internal locus of control. Besides motivation, competence is also, thus, an important contributor to individual performance.

The concept of locus of control refers to the perception of contingencies between action and to what extent action produces an outcome. Those who have high perception of such contingencies (believe that their actions produce the outcomes) are said to be “internal” (with internal locus of control), and those who have low perceptions of contingencies (believe that the outcomes are not produced by their actions) are said to be “external” (with external locus of control.

A most relevant concept in this context is that of causal attribution by Weiner. He added another dimension to locus of control, this is, perception of causal attributions; whether a person attributes the outcome to internal or external “causes”. Weiner suggested a stability- variability dimension where both the internal and external causes can be either stable or variable, thus giving four categories of factors to which outcomes can be attributed.


This is shown in the Exhibit. Internal causes are either stable, which do not change easily (e.g., ability) or variable, those that can vary or change (e.g., effort). Similarly, the external causes are either stable (difficulty of a task), or variable (luck or chance). Weiner has further proposed that interaction between locus of control and stability have different significance for attribution of positive outcomes (success) and negative outcomes (failure).

Perceived Determinants of Outcomes

Based on several investigations, Weiner proposed that persistence in activity or action will result if:

a. Success is attributed to internal variable factor (effort), because if a person perceives that his effort (which he can vary) has resulted in the desired outcome, he will find more pleasure in engaging further in (increasing his effort for) the activity.

b. Failure is attributed to variable factors (both internal, i.e., effort, and external, i.e., luck and chance). If a person perceives that his failure is due to factors which can change like luck, or which can be varied like effort, he still has hope for improvement by putting more effort. If a person attributes his failure to stable factors (ability or task difficulty), he is likely to give up efforts, because his ability level cannot change easily and the level of task difficulty remains a hindrance. In such a case, it is not desirable to persist the activity.

Factor # 3. Ability:


Ability of a person also affects his performance on the job. Ability is the perception of a person about his knowledge and skill to perform the job. Knowledge represents technical attributes of a specific field. It indicates gaining expert information about the chosen field which the person has to perform. Skill is the practical ability of doing something. Theoretical information (knowledge) and practical exposure (skill) together make a person-able and excel in job performance.

Factor # 4. Role Perception:

Role is the position one occupies in a system. It is defined by the functions one performs in response to the expectations of the significant members of a system, and one’s own expectations from that position. Role is important for integration of individual with the organization. Role is a central concept in work motivation as it is only through the role that individual and the organization interact with each other.

Performance of a person is affected by his role perception. It indicates what a person thinks about himself with reference to organizational activities. If a person is clear of his role, he will perform his job well. If, however, there is role conflict, a person is engaged in two or more simultaneous roles where he is unable to decide his role and contribution to the job.

This negatively affects performance on the job. Role ambiguity where a person is not clear of what is expected from his job position also results in low productivity.

Factor # 5. Resources:


Organizational resources can be physical (infrastructure, plant layout etc.) or psychological (training, development, compensation, labour-management relationships, leadership, motivation, communication etc.). Resources at the work place affect performance of a person on the job. These resources also affect motivation of a person to perform his job. A healthy work environment is always conducive to positive job performance.

Factor # 6. Work Place Environment:

The processes should be designed to enable employees to put their knowledge, skill and expertise to work. The results should be transparent so that individual does not have to look for higher authorities to interpret the performance. Each individual should be treated as an individual and not a machine.

People deliver results when they know how they can increase their ability and opportunity in the organization not when they are told why they have to. All human beings know what to expect not only from themselves but also from the organizations. Congruence of these two needs can motivate employees to give their best rather than just monetary incentives.

Though there are various factors that affect individual performance, motivation is one of the most important factors that affects job performance. Commitment, ability, dedication etc. affect performance only if the employees are motivated to work. Managers have to analyze human behaviour and find out the right motivators that affect job performance.


Motivation helps in improving job performance in the following ways:

(a) It promotes employees to put higher level of performance than those who are not motivated to work.

(b) It exploits potential of the employees to the fullest of their ability.

(c) It reduces labour turnover and absenteeism and, thus, the cost of recruitment, training and developing new employees.


(d) Committed employees enhance reputation of the organization in the global markets.

(e) It reduces resistance on the part of organizational members to accept change. Motivated employees accept change as they know the benefits arising out of proposed changes.