Ability typically refers to the physical and intellectual wherewithal of a given employee. In a certain light, ability means something similar to talent. Some employees, regardless of training or education, are liable to have specific, innate abilities.
In an accounting firm, one employee might have a knack for analyzing data models and creating algorithms. Another employee might lack the ability for data analytics. No matter how much training and assistance a second employee receives, they continue to lack the ability.
Considering the above, ability tends to play a big role in employee performance. A person's ability can make them an asset to their employer. It can help them carry out tasks and perform functions that other employees—with different abilities or lackluster abilities—can't. Thus, an employee's ability could potentially lead to raises, promotions, and other additional benefits.
Yet ability is not the sole factor in determining the performance of an employee. Motivation also plays a pivotal role in the performance of an employee. An employee might possess certain abilities, but if they're not motivated to deploy them, the abilities (and performance) could languish.
An example of the role that motivation plays in the context of ability is in professional basketball and the National Basketball Association (NBA). NBA players are employees. Their teams pay them millions of dollars to play basketball. Some basketball players have the ability to play at a high level, but they lack the motivation. Many NBA experts agreed that Anthony Edwards had the talent to play basketball like a star; yet, when it came to motivation, there was quite a bit of doubt.