The 3 Ingredients of Great Performance Management

My wife is a big fan of TV cooking shows. You name it, she likes to watch it: IronChef, TopChef, Great American Food Truck, and MasterChef, just to name a few.

While recently watching an episode of MasterChef Junior, the show featuring young children displaying their culinary talents in competition with each other, I was struck by how the show illustrates the three fundamentals of effective performance management: goal setting, coaching, and evaluation.

Goal Setting

The young chefs are presented with various challenges that test their culinary expertise. The challenges are all unique. One may require the contestants to create an exact replica of a dish made by an adult chef, or another may be to create a dessert using a few specific ingredients, or yet another may be to create their own signature dish that follows a certain theme. Regardless of the unique challenge, the goal is clear. All good performance starts with clear goals. When goals are fuzzy or non-existent, energy is diffused and productivity suffers. But when goals are clearly defined, people’s focus is sharp, effort is purposefully directed, and productivity accelerates.

Gordon Ramsay Setting a Clear Goal on How to Cook Filet Mignon


Once clear goals have been established, the second fundamental of effective performance management is day to day coaching. People need direction, support, and feedback in real-time to help them address competency gaps, make course corrections, or consider alternative approaches. In MasterChef Junior, this is illustrated when the judges connect with each of the chefs during the preparation of their dishes. They ask questions that get the youngsters thinking about the vision and strategy of their meal, or the judges will give advice if they notice something is not up to par, or they’ll offer warnings of things to pay attention to or avoid. The goal of coaching is to help the individual produce the best outcome possible.

MasterChef Judges Coaching a Contestant


Dumping the once a year formal performance evaluation is all the rage right now. What gets lost sometimes in this popular trend is the need remains to do some sort of performance evaluation with your employees. The timing, frequency, and format of the evaluation may change, but evaluation is still a critical component of the performance management process. It allows both the leader and employee to assess the effectiveness of the employee’s efforts, what worked well, and what could be done better. In MasterChef Junior, the judges offer each contestant a critique of their dish. I’m surprised, yet pleased to see, the candid nature of the judges’ comments. Rather than falling into the trap of over-praising effort to the neglect of constructive criticism, the judges deliver feedback in a factual, straightforward manner. The young chefs know clearly what they did well, where they came up short, and how they can get better in the future. Isn’t that how it should be in our workplaces?

Example of MasterChef Junior Performance Evaluation

Life at work doesn’t fall into the neat, 1-hour, edited format of a TV show, but the principles of effective performance management we see in MasterChef Junior are still valid. Good performance starts with clear goals that enable individuals to understand what they’re trying to achieve. Good leaders provide real-time coaching on an as-need basis to help employees stay on course, get back on course if they’ve strayed, or to consider ways to improve their performance along the way. And finally, once the goal or project has been completed, the leader and employee review the performance and celebrate things done well, and if needed, discuss how to improve performance in the future.

This post was originally published on and I thought the Leading with Trust audience would enjoy it as well.

7 Comments on “The 3 Ingredients of Great Performance Management

  1. Thanks so much Randy – this is super practical and down-to-earth. I agree that the need for evaluation is sometimes lost (baby with the bathwater) in the trend towards throwing out the annual review process. Sometimes you need to stop and think about why you do something and what it is supposed to achieve, rather than just abolishing the whole thing!

    • Hi Rebecca. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful. We certainly don’t want to throw that baby out with the bathwater!


  2. Randy, I’m afraid you lost me at your “man card” comment and didn’t really have much interest in the rest. I’m so tired of the sexist nonsense… men can’t watch cooking shows?? We’re too insecure to own up to it?? Cmon man!!
    Sorry to sound negative, but I think men need to start calling out men. Attitudes need to change… until then, I’m having a hard time hearing you.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for the direct feedback. You’re right, and I appreciate you bringing it to my intention. The “man card” joke was actually in reference to my wife “owning” the TV remote control, not to the watching of cooking shows. Regardless, it was a lame attempt at humor. I’ve revised the article to eliminate that portion.

      Best regards,


      • Thanks Randy. I appreciate you owning that….lord know I’ve got my own work to do. Great article too!

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