The Performance Chain Reaction
The ability to move to your ‘next career level’, either internal or external to your current organization, is directly related to your previous performance, your current performance results, and your ability to show your potential to perform in that specific next level role. Yes, there are people who will say that the key to getting ahead in your career is primarily through networking and connections, in other words “who you know, not what you know”. But doesn’t it make sense that your network will be much more helpful if they are confident that you will actually be able to meet new performance expectations? The reality is that, if you fail to perform to expectations, no matter who helps you to move forward, it will come back to haunt you (and them) and this will hurt your career progression.
Successful career-oriented people understand that there are few short cuts when it comes to career development. Rather than relying on ‘who they know’, and hoping for help, these people regularly put in the effort to develop the skills that will help them to move forward in their careers. Because they place much more emphasis on increasing what they know they remain enthusiastic about ongoing learning and development. And then by applying their knowledge they build on their experience, which enables them to develop an attractive portfolio of provable performance results.
“The best predictor of future performance is past performance”.
From an organizational perspective, overall business success is dependent on organizational, leadership, managerial, team and individual performance. Effective leaders and managers always have a developmental mindset, but they do not only continuously develop their own performance capabilities, they also see the value in surrounding themselves with, and developing, performance-orientated support personnel. True leaders take responsibility for developing future leaders. Strong managers take responsibility for identifying internal successors and for building greater overall performance capability within their report networks. And hiring decision-makers are very careful to ensure that specific positional performance objectives will be met when they hire external employment candidates or when they promote internal personnel.
That said, while there is a huge need for performance enhancement, there is unfortunately much more discussion about performance than there is real action in elevating performance capability and holding people accountable for meeting performance targets. In the simplest terms, if your organization is not experiencing the success that you want, then someone is just not performing. But too often the typical response to undesired performance is to justify current methodology, to make excuses when performance objectives are not met, and to resist change rather than to ‘dig down’ and address the real issues. In contrast, the rarer, high-performing organizations are open to change because they are often staffed by change-oriented, growth mindset managers and staff. They understand that we should never expect to experience different results unless there is a willingness to go beyond discussion and to actually do things differently.
Successful organizations focus on performance results (not excuses), and they facilitate adaptable, forward-moving performance cultures that encourage change in order to achieve them.
Have you ever noticed that… performance creates opportunity?
When people perform there is greater opportunity for them to be noticed, to be recognized for their achievements and therefore to be offered greater challenges and developmental opportunities. As a result, they further enhance their performance capabilities, they gain more performance experience, and they become better positioned to capture those increasingly competitive internal, or external, ‘next level’ career opportunities. Poor performance has the opposite effect. When people perform poorly they are less likely to be offered new challenges, to be given developmental opportunities and to gain more experience. Rather than creating enthusiasm and motivation, poor performance can create a sense of frustration and even desperation, which often results in poor performers taking ‘short cuts’ in an attempt to keep up with the rest. And when left uncorrected due to poor accountability, these short cuts can often become consistent bad habits.
On an organizational level, positive organizational performance increases revenue (and profitability). This in turn fosters a sense of confidence and stability that enables a growth-orientated culture rather than the typical ‘survival mode’ mentality that comes with poor performance results. High performing organizations are able to proactively take advantage of changing market conditions early rather than reactively respond later. Expansion plans are easier to make, and any required growth-related assets are easier to acquire. As well, these organizations become more attractive to compatible high performing leaders, managers and personnel who will join, stay and add to the positive momentum. Have you ever heard the phase “people are attracted or repelled by the quality of their manager”? It is another way of saying that, high performers are attracted to high performing managers who will further encourage and facilitate the growth of their performance capabilities and thus their positive career progression. And obviously, those organizations that contain more high performing personnel will outperform those who don’t.
The strong get stronger because their performance creates the opportunity to do so.
Performance begets further performance
From a personal perspective, it may be helpful to provide you with two direct examples of how our performance, at CAES, has created additional project opportunities via a performance ‘chain reaction’.
In the first example, a few years ago I was approached by a financial professional to help him with his personal performance. His initial rationale was to increase revenue, but he also had the long-term objective of growing his small business practice. Later, after better understanding our approach to performance and seeing satisfactory results, he asked me to help him recruit and hire a permanent ‘right hand person’ as part of his longer-term plan. His intention here was to create some administrative stability from which he could later build upon when hiring additional personnel.
Once the new hire ‘settled in’, he then asked me to complete some staff performance assessments in order to evaluate the performance capabilities of his co-op students, and this project translated into a more recent project where we identified a current ‘high-potential’ candidate whom he is now interested in retaining as a permanent employee. In addition, he also asked me to create a ‘performance template’ to help him to evaluate the capabilities of any future co-op students to ensure ‘fit’ with his firm. Having grown in personnel, he recently asked me to conduct an overall team performance assessment and to offer advice regarding possible group performance enhancement initiatives. And now, I have also just started providing career development services to one of his clients based on his referral of our services.
My second example also began with me first helping an individual to enhance their personal performance. While working through this project, my client was obviously pleased with what I was doing because he asked me to collaborate with him in the certification of a Master Black Belt (MBB) candidate who held the role of Director – Global Quality in his organizational client, a high-tech manufacturer. My collaborator is a Lean / Six Sigma specialist who provides training and certification services and, after understanding CAES’s approach to non-technical skill evaluation and development, he could see the value of our collaboration. His part would be to handle the evaluation of the candidate’s technical capabilities and I would handle the other side of the performance equation, the evaluation of his non-technical skills. The project went very well, the MBB candidate earned certification, and the organizational client was pleased.
With the certification process completed, the MBB candidate informed me that he was being promoted from his position into the Operations Manager role. Knowing my approach to performance quite well, he suggested that I provide a Leadership / Management development program to five internal people who were being promoted into managerial positions. (“I want to surround myself with the right people”). I readily accepted, and at the same time we also agreed that I would continue to work directly with him to help with his transition into his new role and the new performance challenges that he will now face.
The performance chain starts, and continues, as a result of effective performance. People are more comfortable to move forward when they experience satisfactory performance and they can see your potential to perform in the next project or at the next level. In both of our examples, none of these additional project opportunities would have come about if the clients were not initially satisfied with the work, nor if any of the results of each successive project in the ‘chain’ had been unsatisfactory.
High performers take performance very seriously. The people and organizations involved in my examples are already very good at what they do, and they all want to further enhance their performance capabilities. To them, performance is not simply a word to be discussed, it is an activity that is critical to their success. And like all successful people, they consistently want to grow and become stronger, so they are open to assistance from anyone who can help them to be successful.
High performers want to surround themselves with other high performers – either internal or external to their organization. They understand that greater opportunity only comes when performance results are achieved, and they want to ensure that their performance will be supported by the people that they work with.
So, whether considered on a personal or an organizational level, if you want to experience performance success and to create more opportunities:
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Jim Gilchrist B.E.S.