A Bridge between People & Performance<br />The language used by business leaders to drive success includes words like vision, strategy, performance, plan, cost, income, excellence, efficiency and goal. The organisation is contracted to work on each of these ideas and produce results that impress shareholders and customers. The organisation is made up of individuals who operate as human beings who are constructed psychologically by their experiences to date and by the impact of the environment they are in. If the way they are constructed fits well with the business drivers and they are comfortable with the environment they are in then great business performance flows easily. If they are not then business performance will be impaired and results will be below expectations. <br />All human beings are at any time seeking to achieve the optimal balance for their body and mind and do this through psychological processes. The language of psychological processes includes ideas like inner conflicts, self esteem, resistance, boundaries, male v female brain, multiple intelligences, unfinished business and existential anxiety. Most business leaders are comfortable with the language of business and uneasy with the language of psychology. Both languages are about the performance of people. In business we want people to perform to their best for the corporation. As human beings we want our minds and bodies to perform to the best of their potential for us. Extraordinary performance happens when people are in balance with their needs. What is needed is a bridge between what makes people tick and the outcomes desired by a corporation. The following twelve distinctions offer you a test for the fitness of your people to produce the business performance you want. If all twelve are in good shape you will be one of the greatest companies in the world and your staff will love working for your company. The distinctions come in four levels that can be thought of as contributing to each other and leading through to outcomes in level 4. As a member of your organisation think about how each of these relate to you and those around you and the impact improvement in each of them could have on performance and job satisfaction.<br />Level 1 – The Core Attributes that define you (story, values, context and goals)<br />Story<br />Each day the story of you unfolds with new pages and chapters being written by whoever holds the pen. If you are in control of the pen and writing is only by you or those you choose and you like what is written, there is a good chance you will be performing well and enjoying life. If you let go of the pen and allow those who want to write for you do so then you are probably living their story for you and experiencing frustration and poor performance at work. If you have the pen under your control, then keep it. If you don’t then you should grab it. With the pen in your hand there are many fabulous stories for you to write and you should choose the best one for you.<br />Values<br />Take a look at the values you live by at work and compare them with the values you would like to live by. The bigger the difference between each set of values, the greater the anxiety you will experience in your daily work. High performance and low anxiety will flow from living the values you want to live by at work. Next best is recognising the difference and accepting it as a cost of the work you are doing for the benefits it gives elsewhere. Poor performance and high anxiety arise when there is a big difference in values and no acceptance of this difference. Which camp you fit in to is your choice.<br />Context<br />There are always a large number of contexts available to you in any situation you find yourself in. The extent to which you choose the context you are in and use it to determine what you do will influence the success you have and how much you enjoy it. If you allow context to be imposed upon you then you will often have excuses to explain why you cannot achieve what is asked of you. If you set out your own context it will help you with the choices you make and the success you want. Great leaders paint a vast canvas of the context they see for their organisation from which each individual can pick their own context and make their contribution to the desired results.<br />Goals<br />Goals are set to guide you in what you will do and, significantly, what you will not do. It is easy to be unclear about your goals in the hope it leaves flexibility to respond to anything that turns up. The risk is that, if your goals are unclear when confronted with conflicts, you may put too much effort in to too many things and not do any of them well. If you are clear about your main goals and understand how much capacity you have set aside for things that turn up you will be successful and will make progress with purpose.<br />Level 2 – The Enablers that help you get what you want (assumptions, confidence, choices and commitment)<br />Assumptions<br />You interpret the world through the sensory inputs you receive and combine them with the theories you have built up about the world. Your interpretation is full of assumptions and very little fact. If you are aware of this and are good at seeing your assumptions as one set within a large number of possibilities you will discover new and more useful views of the world for you. If you are open to questioning your assumptions you will be successful more often than rigidly sticking to your interpretation as fact or the ‘truth’. The processes of the human mind naturally give an equal weighting to assumptions and facts and this sometimes saves us and sometimes harms us. Being aware of this bias will help you when harm threatens you.<br />Confidence<br />You have a much bigger chance of success when you have confidence in what you are going to do. You will have your own way of building your own confidence and will achieve certain levels. There are techniques to help build confidence that do work on assumptions and beliefs. You can improve if you need to. Mike Norris (CEO Computacenter) explains how he works on his confidence ‘to get confident I must understand my subject. I read about it, talk about it and think about it. I think about it in bed, on the way to work, in the bath, on the toilet, on the golf course, as I eat and wherever I am until I understand it. If I don’t understand it I go back and think about it some more until I do.’<br />Choices<br />You will spend much of your life incrementally moving on today from where you finished yesterday. This is easier and requires less effort than taking a look at what you would really like to do today. If you are good at giving weight to a full range of diverse possibilities before making your choice you will lead an exciting life rich with opportunity. The human mind is much more comfortable continuing with what it knows and is experiencing than moving to something new. Changes illicit defence mechanisms within the mind that give a disproportionate weighting to what might go wrong versus benefits that might accrue (by a factor of over 2:1). Knowing this bias can lead people towards the dreams they always had but never dared attempt.<br />Commitment<br />You know when you are committed and when you are not. The difference is that when you are committed you will move heaven and earth to achieve what you set out to do. When you are not committed you will be distracted easily when some other need comes along and takes away your attention. If you are good at being clear about what you are committed to and what you are not committed to your time management will often be good and the focus of your efforts very clear and intense. You will see around you every day people who are not clear about their commitments and become overworked by chasing everything that comes along. As John Leggate (Venture Capitalist and Energy Entrepreneur) put it ‘the answer is being committed to doing stuff for which you have a passion and which is integral with a bigger cause or crusade and do it with people who give you back even bigger ideas and learn to sleep with one eye open because the context often changes when people are asleep!’<br />Level 3 – The Relationships you have to help you (self, others, environment)<br />Self<br />The relationship you have with yourself is one of the most fundamental platforms of the success you will experience. If you like yourself and are very comfortable in your own skin the energy you will apply to what you do and the obstacles you will jump over will be immense. If you don’t like yourself or are often critical of your own efforts then obstacles will stay in the way or grow and your energy will be sapped as you take on your load. The great thing about this relationship is that if you need to do work to improve it then it is all within your control. The hard part is challenging some of the lines of thought that have been inked in by the experiences you have had to date. It is always helpful to reveal and be aware of these lines of thought and many can be changed.<br />Others<br />Your relationships with other people determine how much you can get done and how you get it done. There are organisations in which you get to the top by climbing over the bodies of others. There are other organisations where individual success is an outcome from the success you help others achieve. You know which organisation you are in and which style you prefer. There is no limit to the success the second type of organisation can achieve but it requires authentic and sophisticated human behaviours. If you can get most of your success as an outcome of helping others succeed you will be someone people want to work more with and will achieve satisfaction from what you do. Generally women are much better at this way of working with other people than are men. The way you treat other people will have a major influence on the level of help they will give you.<br />Environment<br /> If you like the environment you are working in you have a much higher chance of success and enjoyment of the things you do. If you put your people in an environment they do not like you guarantee performance will be below what they can offer. If you allow yourself to be in environments you do not like you will perform well below your potential. People now work wherever they are and many do not give consideration to where they are effective and where they are not. A little thought given to noticing where you work best will pay dividends in your effectiveness and comfort.<br />Level 4 – The Outcomes you achieve (success)<br />Success<br />You are as good and as bad as you are in each of the distinctions above. You go about your daily life and do what you do and there are outcomes from your efforts. How you learn from these outcomes and consider them is a critical feed in to the success you enjoy now and the success you can have in the future. The successes will have a direct link back to being strong in some of the elements within each of the levels mentioned above. Things that have not worked out will link back to being weak in some of the elements above. If you are strong you can be stronger and if you are weak you can also be stronger. The choice is yours.<br />Len Williamson<br />Jan 2010<br />Email: Len@theowlpartnership.com<br />Tel: +44 (0)7802323061<br />If you are interested in the ideas expressed here and think they may help in your organization please get in touch. My coaching style is to use conversation to help clients describe the challenges they face in their own words and to bring a number of perspectives that help them see a way forward. I focus on helping people take successful action and improve the decisions they make. We work on an individual’s and teams biggest challenges to find ways of overcoming obstacles and on interventions to improve effectiveness. <br />Leadership Coach – The Owl Partnership (http://www.theowlpartnership.com)<br />Board Level Executive Coach – Associate – A|S|K (http://www.askeurope.com) <br />Member:<br />MSc: Cognitive and Decision Sciences, UCL, 2009<br />Bibliography<br />Books that have influenced the ideas presented here include:<br />The Female Brain – Louann Brizendine, Bantam Press 2007<br />Frames of Mind - Howard Gardner, Fontana Press 1993<br />Gestalt Therapy Integrated – Erving and Miriam Polster, Vintage Books 1974<br />Influence – Robert B Caldini, Pearson Education Inc 2001 <br />On Becoming a Person – Carl Rogers, Constable & Robinson 1967<br />On the Nature of the Psyche – Karl Jung, Routledge 1969 <br />Our Inner Conflicts – Karen Horney, W W Norton and Company New York 1945<br />Practicing Existential Psychotherapy – The Relational World – Ernesto Spinelli, Sage Publications 2007<br />The Six Pillars of Self Esteem – Nathaniel Branden, Bantam Books New York 1994<br />Strategy Maps – Kaplan and Norton, HBS Publishing 2004<br />Thinking and Deciding – Jonathan Baron, Cambridge Univ Press2008<br />
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