Considering the role of effective performance management in your pursuance of high performance.

Throughout my 35 years of working as a Performance Coach in both world class sport and across just about every sector of business, emergency services and armed forces, I have seen how incredibly successful and valuable supporting the development and performance of your people through highly effective management and leadership, can be.

Too often, when adversity strikes in your staff, or for a wide variety of reasons their enthusiasm, engagement and/or performance standards begin to drop, businesses simply turn to managing the person out of the business. Well, consider this as a great example of why you perhaps shouldn’t:

In 2018, Para athletics high jumper, Jonathan Broom-Edwards, sustained a potentially career ending injury when he fully ruptured the Achilles tendon in his Talipes leg.  At this point, with several major championship medals to his name, including World and Paralympic silvers, he could easily have looked to pursue a career and develop his skills elsewhere. He could also have allowed the negative thoughts affect his confidence and self-belief which would ultimately have had a serious potential negative effect on his mental and emotional wellbeing. Instead, he approached me to see if I would consider helping him with his rehabilitation and to set new goals moving forward. In 2018 our journey began…

Skip to September 2021 and he is now the current World and Paralympic champion after winning gold in Dubai (2019) and Tokyo (2021)!

How did we do it?

So, while Jonathan’s adversity came in the shape of a ruptured Achilles, yours may come in a whole variety of potential people, teams, suppliers, customers and organisational issues.
In the early stages of any adversity or poor performance, one must recognise that it’s really important for the coach or manager to invest some time and effort into establishing any or all potential causes and effects. This should be followed by the implementing of any immediate action/intervention required, to ensure that the situation is stabilised and things cannot get any worse. This should then be followed by a comprehensive review of events, leading up to this moment to help you identify the things that will have contributed to the situation so that you can take action to remove them and/or at the very worst, make sure that things aren’t repeated.

Too often when the chips are down or performance is suffering, some people feel it’s easier to just rid yourself of the problem instead of trying to, not just resolve the issues but use this as an opportunity to explore what kind of support is needed to return the performance levels to the very best version. Or, even a time to explore performance beyond anything ever achieved so far.

Following an injury, when we are no longer able to sustain the normal loading or perhaps, we are not even capable of moving in the same way, we no longer have the mechanical competence and/or capability to do what we did. However, this situation doesn’t always mean that the performance goal(s) need to change! But what it did mean in Jonathan’s case, was that we had to consider the reality of our current situation and like before, we needed to build a programme that looks at the day when success is achieved, establish the metrics that will help define the success and then build a programme with a strategic approach to developing the skills, the physical capability and self-confidence to go and deliver it. The only thing that will have changed, is the starting point!

What has come out of the past few years, is the learning that we have been blessed with because we have been forced to think differently. We had to try different things and most importantly, build a team of experts that have the knowledge, experience and expertise to help us deliver this success.
Much credit must also go to the performance programme at British Athletics because this is a great example of when they have identified talent and decided to invest into it. That even when there is a major setback and it appears that their investment will no longer reap the rewards, they not only continue to maintain that investment but also look to consider where and how they can further support the talent.

So, perhaps when you have a broken person, system, process and/or performance, this should be a time when you don’t turn you back on the situation or try to get rid of the problem, but to make sure that this is a time to engage, invest your time and effort to work much more closely with the person(s) to repair, re-establish and/or progress previous performance standards.

What has been learnt?

Some insight of my most recent reflections and learnings:

At time of adversity or poor performance…

  • Make sure that you have the skills, knowledge and expertise in your support team.
  • Ensure that the leadership is experienced enough and able.
  • Give the experts in the team the autonomy to make decisions in their areas of expertise.
  • Accountability in each member of the team is critical.
  • Continue to challenge the thinking, the decision making and your chosen action plan along the way.
  • Identify the specific performance metrics that will be needed to be successful and then put into place regular and appropriately timed review sessions, to ensure that progress is on track and the chosen actions are effective and will indeed, deliver the success you are working towards.
  • Never be afraid to change something that isn’t working…but only when you have established understanding about why.
  • Make sure that you share any/all of the learning, progress and successes with the whole team.
  • TRUST the process and always BACK YOURSELF!

If you would like to discuss your team or organisation’s route to to high performance, contact us and ask for Graham!