As a performance coach with more than 35 years of experience supporting the learning and development of others, I consider myself a Positive Performance Manager. Working in a HR Office I also see and hear first-hand, how supporting the knowledge, understanding and expertise of top managers and business leaders can help to create, develop and maintain highly effective working relationships. This kind of positive performance management will help you to avoid having to visit the ‘dark side’ of performance management.
In this blog I would like to share my thoughts on how to positively support the performance of your people, teams and organisation.
If our aim is to positively manage the performance of those around us, then we surely must consider and identify the most significant contributing factors that will help develop and/or maximise the performance of your people, teams and organisation.
Skills, knowledge and experience
Developing the performance in your people and teams, first requires you to establish clarity around the purpose and expectations of each person in relation to their role, their role in the team and the team’s function in the business/organisation. Once this is established, its then the role of the Positive Performance Manager to create and maintain an environment that helps develop the mastery in everyone in the team.
How do we do this?
We do this by providing quality training, that is then followed up with the support of coaching and mentoring to help people develop the initial skills and knowledge until they become skilful/expert in applying this learning practically. People don’t come back from training courses as experts, they come back at a point of acquisition only. They will have acquired some knowledge, a degree of understanding and hopefully some useful tools but all of this must be developed from there onwards.
Supporting the development of expertise and the building of experience of others, is about developing scenarios that expose people to situations when they can practise applying their skills and learn from the outcomes. To support this process further, in a positive performance management way is by providing the person with meaningful and purposeful feedback throughout the journey.
One thing that 1000’s of 1:1 coaching sessions has taught me, is developing self-confidence or developing the confidence in others, is a major factor in the pursuit of performance progress. It should therefore, be the focus of every business leader to consider the factors that help develop confidence in people and then create an environment that supports the growth of them all?
To help you do this, simply consider when you are feeling most confident or perhaps a time when you didn’t feel as confident or at the very worst, fearful, and without any confidence. Once we understand this, then as leaders we can begin to create an environment full of opportunities where self-confidence can be developed.
This is a subject area of great interest to me and has been for many years. Why, when I had some truly amazing natural athletic talent (genetic make-up/ somatotype) to work with and provided them with a tried and trusted world class development programme, did they still not reach the expected levels of performance?
In short, people work to a high standard because they want to and not because you tell them to.
So, to positively manage the performance of others, it is essential that we understand the intrinsic motivators of those we are working with. When we do know what makes each member of our team tick, we can then create an environment of high-performance stimuli by being the provider of those extrinsic motivators that will fuel their internal desire (driving force) and encourage our people to push themselves out of their comfort zone and into the stretch zone, where we know that the highest levels of performance are achieved.
To help you understand intrinsic motivation and how to create high levels of motivation in your organisation, I would guide you to models like, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the more modern Barrett Model’s 7 Levels of Consciousness of individuals, leaders and organisations.
The Human Performance Curve also known as the Yerkes-Dodson law (see main image), shows the relationship of the potential that the various stages of stimuli of pressure, has on human performance.
This model clearly shows how positive pressure can support the delivery of high performance but also clearly shows the very negative effect of the stress response.
Pressure vs stress really is another discussion for another blog (a very worthy blog of its own) however in brief, you will see that when we get the amount of pressure right, we can positively affect the performance levels of our people, but we must understand the triggers that cause the sympathetic nervous system to trigger a stress response. These involuntary physiological, mental, emotional and behavioural responses, that are designed solely to help us survive a fight or flight situations are not conducive in any way to supporting high performance.
Positive Performance Management is therefore, about firstly identifying who in your team is existing in which area and then considering what you can do to help, either move them into a higher level of performance or some (even many) cases, it might be to explore what you should be doing to reduce the levels of pressure/stress.
I can confidently share that after all my years supporting the learning, personal development and performance of individuals, teams and organisations across a wide variety of sectors, that success is fundamentally built on the necessity of establishing and maintaining trust in all of your relationships.
Imagine you were about to embark on a journey of self-development, or you were about to step out of your own comfort zone and take a chance…wouldn’t you just treasure the support of your most trusted friend!
Positive Performance Management in your teams is fundamentally under-pinned by the presence of trust across each member. In the absence of trust, then at best, you will have dysfunction and at the very worst, the relationship and team with break-down (see Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – book and model).
Project Aristotle – Google’s research into 184 High Performance Teams highlighted the consistent presence within these teams of a psychological safe zone. This will help establish a culture where feedback, positive challenge and learning is encouraged at every level of the business. This means that your people will feel free to challenge and be challenge without the fear of ridicule or reprimand, to openly challenge the status-quo and explore how we could/should do things different to differently to affect a positive change in the progress of performance.
I hope that the above information resonates with every reader and accurately reflects your experiences too. I also hope that it provides you with some thought-provoking discussions, resources, models and research, to help guide you to some areas of potential focus, as you continue developing the kind of relationships that will enrich every part of your life and the lives of others that you lead and/or support.
If I could leave you with one final piece of advice, then please let this quote guide you in your leadership and positive performance management:
“People will forget what you said to them, they will even forget what you did but they seldom forget how you made them feel”