How do we manage performance?
My final question is how, how do we performance manage (or coach)? Going back to gymnastics, the coach very clearly sets the goals and objectives for each practice session, gearing the athlete up for future performances. The athlete knows exactly what they need to do to perform, and receives constant feedback from their coach at every stage of the process. This is exactly what we need and should be doing with our employees. We need to be clear in how we set goals, making sure that these reflect specifically what needs to be done to perform well and reduce the risk for the employee and the company. We need to provide constant feedback in the way a coach does, making sure that our employees are clear throughout the process as to what is working and what is not working. And finally, we need to have the right ‘equipment’, meaning the right tools, processes, training, etc. to assist us along the way.
Here’s an example to illustrate these points listed under ‘how’. Think of a gymnast learning a flip on the balance beam. You wouldn’t have them go on the beam and try the trick, would you? No, you would set them goals such as performing it successfully on the ground first, then a low balance beam, and finally the high balance beam. Do the same with your employees, give them goals so that they can learn and achieve the ‘trick’, coaching and encouraging them whilst they practice and learn. Give them feedback along the way, and use ‘equipment’ that will help them achieve their goals.
Let me end this article with a quote from Kohei Uchimura, who won an unprecedented sixth World Gymnastic Championship gold for the all around at the recent competition. He said “I am trying to become a super gymnast who can do the best performances in any competition at any time". I think he’s got it right when it comes to performance – he works hard so that his performance is practiced and consistent, being able to ‘win’ at any point in time. So let’s think like coaches when we develop and manage our ‘athletes’ and make sure we support them in achieving their goals and performing to reach their potential.