In my first two blogs on this topic we raised the question does innate talent exist.
We then discussed how we can apply methods of high performance development regardless of our level of talent. Some people believe we are either born with talent or we aren’t, and unfortunately this commonly leads to the believe if we aren’t born with the talent, why bother pushing for anything more than average performance. This 3 part series is aimed to change this perception as I never want to accept I’m incapable of furthering myself and nor should you.
In part 2 of this series we established there are methods we can apply to achieving the best we possible can in most things we do. We acknowledge these methods are easier implemented and measured in certain fields or applications however we want to understand how to apply this in our jobs. We spend so much time at work so why not push for greatness? The common answer to this is “I’m not good enough” or “I simply don’t want it bad enough”. There are many methods we can apply to improving our performance to the highest levels however the following summarises the main points I raised in part 2 of this series:
- The journey isn’t fun so you must want it bad enough
- Deliberate practice works
- Receiving ongoing coaching & mentoring
- Deepening our knowledge
- Building and applying an expert working memory
So, we know we can apply methods of development in most fields but how do we do it ourselves in our own day to day careers? There are many contributing factors which make measuring high performance in business difficult i.e. economic conditions, customer constraints, health, just to name a few. Whilst measuring high performance is difficult commercially this doesn’t mean we can’t apply steps to become better than we are in our jobs. Before we decide to take this path however we must ensure your employer wants you to achieve higher levels therefore supporting your journey. If your decision to further develop yourself isn’t supported i.e. your boss isn’t on board with this, the environment isn’t conducive to your journey, training and support isn’t provided you will fail. We therefore need to look at how we as individuals apply ourselves and also how our employer can achieve this with us. The following is how I recommend we attempt to be the best we can in our careers.
A big part of making deliberate practice a success is in the planning stage however the most crucial factor is self-belief. If you don’t believe your methods will succeed you won’t apply them well and typically will fail to succeed. We all know having a day planner is important to ensure we set what we need to achieve however a list of tasks isn’t enough. High performers set outcomes exactly not vaguely, sometimes by working backwards setting how they need to go about achieving these outcomes and the tasks involved. The plan will be constructed in a methodical way to ensure the day flows logically depending on the outcomes set.
On the job reflection
The term metacognition is basically how we understand how we think or understand information about ourselves. As we discussed in part 2, we need to reflect on what we do via either a person mentoring / coaching us or by metacognition. When we do certain tasks i.e. speaking to a new customer on the phone, when facing sales objections practicing analysing your own thoughts as if on the outside looking in will ensure you question what could’ve gone better or what we did well. Repeatedly doing this will improve your ability to think quick and confidently address objections. Once again, your knowledge of your role, your employer, the role of the employer in the sector, commercial aspects of this and the impacts on your customers and suppliers, i.e. deepening your knowledge will provide you with the confidence in delivering what you are selling or advising.
End of the day evaluation
We must review our thoughts and practiced activities of the day to ensure we set the standards for tomorrow. Compare yourself to your previous performances, personal best’s or compare yourself to high performing colleagues or industry leaders.
If we've set detailed specifics about how we will achieve our goals we can identify what went wrong and how we can perform better next time. Remember high performers are accountable for what went wrong whereas others may blame factors outside their control.
Finally, we must adapt to working/ communicating/acting in the way we now know is best. If we plan the work practice tasks well enough, we can self-evaluate this easier by clearly identifying what went wrong then in turn knowing what we need to do to improve, then acting on this immediately in setting further details / specifics of how we achieve our next goals.
This process will bring a strong self-efficacy which is the believe in one’s ability.
How employers can produce high performers
As previously mentioned, becoming a high performer, the best we can be isn’t just down to us. If our employer isn’t on-board with our ambitions we aren’t able to apply our methods listed above to best effect. As this article is about individuals rather than employers I’ll not delve into this too far however I will highlight the key points to ensure employers understand how they can get the best out of their people
- If a company wants to be the best they need to hire the best people or develop their people to be the best. Organisations who recruit the best and effectively further develop the best will be the best. Training and further development is one of the top 3, if not the top reason the best employees choose an employer so if this is what the organisation wants to achieve it’s a no-brainer to provide the best opportunity for their people to become high performers
- Employers must give employees jobs / projects / tasks which stretch them to a higher level of experience, continually
- They must find ways to develop leaders within their jobs as early as possible rather than typically waiting until they reach certain years of experience, qualifications or age. Giving people different work outside of their normal job grows their knowledge and broadens their skills without having to change jobs. High performers won't mind doing this extra work as they understand they are being recognised as future leaders
- Develop teams not just individuals
- Culture is key to a team reaching high performance
- Keep personal conflicting agendas within the team apart otherwise it can kill the team performance
- Bring unresolved conflicts to a head asap otherwise they'll linger and prevent the team from working effectively. "Put the fish on the table, it’s smelly and it's messy work cleaning it but we'll get a good meal at the end" a professor at the institute of management leadership in Switzerland uses this statement or analogy to get rid of the elephant in the room asap
After writing these 3 part articles and making my video blogs I feel very clear on one particular point; in everything we do, we have every opportunity to be the best we can if we want it that bad. If our environment, employer, manager, teammates etc aren’t supportive of this, don’t make excuses just find a team that is supportive of your journey to improve yourself. Remember to pick the right time as it will be hard work. 1000 hours of practice is better than 100 however, remember it also takes time to plan, produce, evaluate and implement change. You must be committed to this just as much as anything else in life you chose to do otherwise you won’t achieve your best. Good luck on your journey, I hope to hear from many people who have, are or about to commence their journey to high performance. I’ve just formed a leadership group in the west country of England called Thought Leaders @ Breakfast which will include mentorship opportunities among other great things we are planning to achieve in this forum. Please feel free to message me if you’re in the west country of the UK and wish to know more.