Performance to Proficiency: 

Are you able to deliver reproducible and consistent results in every situation?

In the last posts (Part-I to Part-III) I talked about how attitude a controlling factor in converting competence into developing and demonstrating the performance in an individual. Lets move to next milestone in this journey.


Now while I was ‘performing’ as a driver, no one had any issues. They knew I could drive on any road. Even though we may be on untraveled roads, my fellow passenger had high level of confidence that I will pull it through. Now I was able to switch vehicles and no matter it was truck or a small electric car, my skills were equally good. It also did not matter I was driving in crowded roads of India or limitless Autobahn in Germany. This stage of reproducing your performance everywhere and in every situation is called proficiency.

Let me give you one more equation.

Performance + Reproducibility = Proficiency

In simple words, you have reproduced performance multiple times consistentlyin multiple real-life situations.

The business dictionary defines proficiency as “Mastery of a specific behavior or skill demonstrated by consistently superior performance, measured against established or popular standards”. Gerathewohl (1978) made the distinction between performance and proficiency. Performance referred to the execution of an action of more or less specific function, such as pulling a lever or throwing a switch, Proficiency, in contrast, was related to the integration of a multiple actions.

The concept of proficiency has a component of reproducibility of same or similar results in different situations and different environments. According to Dreyfus & Dreyfus (1986, 2008) model, at ‘proficient’ level individual exhibit a consistent superior performance characterized by reliability, repeatability, reproducibility and consistency of his skills regardless of the situation, problem and challenge.

As per Dreyfus (1986), a proficient individual is deeply involved in the task. He is capable of identifying the important part of the tasks and pay requisite attention. Proficient person sees the situations holistically in terms of various elements. As situation changes, his deliberation, plan and assessment may change. With changing situations, he is able to see new patterns which deviate from the normal. Decision making is very quick and fluid because of the experience in similar situation in past. A proficient performer has experience making situational discriminations that enables recognition of problems and best approaches for solving the problems. Consistency and reproducibility in performance distinguishes this phase of proficiency from the previous stages.

What it means to you?

Attaining proficiency in key skills is becoming a key focus of organizations these days. Organizations expect this state as the desired minimum state of performance of their employees. Quite a bit of research is being conducted in this area and sooner or later organizations will demand their employees to demonstrate proficiency rather than performance.

  • Just performance is not enough. You will not just be expected but will be ‘required’ to reproduce it consistently to same standards in range of real-life situations.
  • You perform consistently and demonstrate proficiency with high degree of reproducibility in different environments. It means you have mastered the ‘environment’ (including the unknown ones as well) to the level that environment does not create any up-and-down variation on your performance.

Stay tuned for next part of this post where I will shed some light on what is there beyond proficiency as you travel your journey to attain mastery. Do subscribe the previous parts and subscribe for subsequent parts.

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Raman K. Attri is a Training Transformational Consultant, Learning Strategist and Researcher with rare experience in shortening time-to-proficiency of employees performing complex jobs at complex organizations. Strong believer in personal performance as the starting point of any world-class leadership, he developed a scientific model Personal Resonance© to achieve peal personal performance and self-leadership. Additionally he helps trainers, learning specialists, instructional designers and training professionals with articles on proven techniques to transition successfully into training and learning management role.

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