Performance Capability and Fluctuation

In my last blog I talked about Performance Fluctuation and about making an honest assessment of yourself and those around you in terms of how consistently you are performing at between 90-100% of your true performance capability.

We work regularly with many managers in all sorts of different roles across a multitude of business types and cultures and have been doing for the last 10 years. We see people on our programmes but also in situ in the workplace and often observe first hand these performance variations. Indeed many Manager’s engage us to help them with their team’s less than stellar performance and in particular specific individuals whose performance they’ve seen decline and cannot seem to get under the skin as to why.

So – let’s firstly look at the concept of a “psychological contract”. This is the non-existent piece of paper that determines the amount of discretionary effort an individual will give in the workplace – you may want to call it “the inner motivation to do well”. There’s a pile of classic and well proven motivational theory (Herzberg/Maslow etc.) that one can draw on to identify some of the things that might cause someone to either choose to, or choose not to, feel motivated – such things as their job content, chances for development advancement, security, reward, workplace surrounds, the business culture and environment and so on.

All of these things are absolutely valid as to possible things that can cause performance capability to fluctuate but the majority of them are EXTERNAL to the person and whilst it’s possible to influence some of them to an extent, it’s also true that the degree of influence is not hugely within your span of control.

What we see less people examining are those factors that are INTERNAL to the individual and it is my belief that these are key to truly understanding ours and others performance. We’ve seen some substantial uplift in performance from courses we have run with groups of people and from 1-1 coaching we have done where we raise awareness of, and then work on these internal factors. The fields of Emotional Intelligence and Personal Resilience offer some extraordinary insights into what makes people tick  – we’ve been amazed at how many people we’ve come across some of whom are in very senior positions) who suffer from issues around self-confidence, relationship building and their handling of change and setbacks. Once people are able to understand and connect how they think (and why that is) to how they feel and behave they can start to unravel why they aren’t performing as they’d like to (such performance often extending way beyond the workplace to their home and social lives too). The next stage then is make the (for some) almighty leap to realise that so much of this is a CHOICE and, moreover, totally within our span of influence.

So – if you know there’s something going on with yours or others performance – it may well be something that lies in this INTERNAL arena – and if you are interested in doing something about it but don’t know how, why not give us a call! We may well be able to help!

And if you are interested in Sport and don’t get what I’m on about do a bit of research on any of those sporting people I mentioned in my previous blog……………look at the fluctuations in their performance capability………..are they INTERNAL or EXTERNAL factors?

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?