Performance Fluctuation (Part 1)

In one of my recent blogs I used some examples from the football Premier League to discuss the relative responsibility for performance in the workplace between the manager and the player (direct report).

I’d like to continue to use the world of sport to illustrate the theme of this blog – the causes of Performance Fluctuation.  Let’s take some well-known names from across a wider spectrum of sport:-

Golf: TIger Woods, David Duval, Lee Westwood, Karen Stupples, Michelle Wie

Tennis: Laura Robson, Sabine Lisicki, Serena and Venus Williams, Richard Gasguet, Roger Federer

Cricket: The entire English men’s team

Football: Most of the Manchester United team

So what do all these people have in common? The answer is that they have all performed quite brilliantly either for a point in time or consistently over a period in time but likewise all performed extraordinarily poorly (by their relative standards) at other points, or in some cases continued periods, in time.

Why does this happen? It would be completely reasonable to understand that no-one can be brilliant 100% of the time – but some of the variances in the people above aren’t seeing them slip from peak performance at 100% to a “90%” rating – they are seeing 100% to less than 50% in performance terms – and some are worse. David Duval’s fall from the top of the golfing world to having to scavenge a living on regional tour events in the USA is well documented but I’m not sure anyone could really explain why.

So what happens in your workplace? How consistent are you in performing at the top of your game each day, each week? What about your colleagues and team members?  Have you ever sat down at the end of a week and looked at what you actually achieved in that week…………and then made a really honest call about whether you could have achieved an awful lot more?  What about people that we manage, or what about those people that manage us? Are they consistently brilliant?

What is it that gets in the way or causes our performance to fluctuate over time?

In the sporting world, it’s easy to pin (relative) failure on injury and that is of course totally reasonable. Andy Murray had back surgery last year and played no tournaments. In his first tournament back in 2014 he lost to a much lower ranked player  – and most people would probably accept you can’t return to 100% in your first tournament after such a lay off (Rafael Nadal’s 2013 somewhat the exception and all the more remarkable because of it).  But in the world of business it would be unusual to be able to pin “injury” as a reason!

In the next blog I’m going to suggest some reasons for Performance Fluctuations – and some thoughts on how to prevent or cure them………………….but the first step has to be recognition of the issue.

So, go on, take a good objective look at yourself and your colleagues – are you and they consistently performing somewhere between 90 & 100% of their true capability?

What’s getting in the way?