- Which group of providers are we talking about? (Some initial demographic
information is always helpful.)
- Can you please share the mission and goal(s) of [this particular section
of the Ministry] so that we can understand the context within which [this
- How does [the target provider populations] performance impact this
- How would improved provider performance help you reach your goals? (Even
if the client is unable to articulate goals or desired performance clearly,
these questions and responses will help expand the conversation and move it
toward performance issues.)
Moving from training to performance issues
In many instances, you may be called in to provide training. Here are some
questions that will help steer the conversation toward performance.
- Why do you want to train these providers? What performance problem are you
trying to fix by training?
- What results would occur if these performance problems were addressed?
- Or is it new performance you want? If so, what kind?
Looking at desired performance
- What do you want them to do? What would ideal performance look
like? That is, what would you see if work was being performed
in an ideal manner?
- In an ideal sense, what would you like the specific performance to be?
What results would you like to achieve? What are some indicators that would
show effective performance? (Ask follow-up questions to help the others
be as specific and performance-based as possible.)
Exploring actual performance
- How well are they doing now?
- How do you [or this NGO or this unit of the Ministry] gather this kind of
- You mentioned they are not doing [something]. What standards do you currently
use to measure performance? How well do people in the field know the standards?
How do they find out about them?
Factors affecting desired performance
- Let us look at the positive side for a moment. What helps providers do their
- What hinders them from doing their job well?
Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be several applicable
- What other factors might there be that affect their performance?
- Do they know what is expected of them?
- Do they receive clear feedback about how they are performing as compared
to the expectations?
- How well does the [organization] support the kind of performance you want
- What about compensation issues or other issues relating to incentives and
- Selection and assignment?
- Logistical support and supplies?
- Any problem with
- How would training help them meet the increased performance you would like
- If they knew how to do it, would they?
- Sometime there are sector factors that affect performance[provide
an example from another country]might this be the case here? Which policy?
How might it affect performance?
As the meetings and conversations progress, the following question may become
- [Stakeholder] has mentioned that they see [issue] as important in terms
of performance. How do you see that same issue? Is this something you agree
with? Could live with? Think would be important?
PRIME PIA field tests have provided tips to consider during these initial meetings.
- Be persistent yet diplomatic in helping people to be descriptive, specific
or clear when they respond to questions about performance. Mid- or top-level
employees often have an intuitive sense that change needs to occur, but they
have trouble defining what they want. In many instances, they have not been
asked questions about performance in quite the same way as we are proposing
here. They will often respond with words like things or stuff
or medical necessities or good work. The art of these meetings
is to know when, how and how much to press for specifics.
- It is critical to use results-oriented questions and to be prepared to
follow up as appropriate. Many FP/RH clients are more comfortable discussing
inputs and what providers need (e.g., supplies or training or
better facilities) than results. People can identify results when questioned
in the right way, but it takes some degree of patience and a clear understanding
on the part of the interviewer as to what is a result and what is an input.
- Notetaking will be helpful during these initial meetings. The PI
leader must have good questions, ask them at the right time, ask
follow-up questions appropriately to get more depth and assure understanding,
and take notes. We cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it
is to take good notes. They need to be thorough and clear enough so that the
meaning can be understood days later when you have time to go through the
notes to look for important patterns and themes.