Image credit: http://blog.secretmillionera.ru/
How do you turn into a high performance individual? In my last post 2 things you need to know to Accelerate Personal Expertise: Specialization and ‘One Thing’ I wrote that before you can lead others, you need to identify what the one thing you are best at.
The key question is that how do you become best at something?
During our research we found that there were three distinct and completely different mechanisms through which professionals are able to do their best and able to shine as high performance individuals.
Let me share an interesting experiment as part of the research that was performed at a hi-tech organization. A select set of employees were given a pre-defined task which they had never done before. These employees were picked for research purposes and supposedly had demonstrated similar levels of skills, experience and knowledge on similar kind of assignments as seen from the performance measures. They were also believed to have quite comparable approaches (attitude) toward handling jobs. They all were given the tasks under a controlled environment to ensure that environment impact is isolated from the outcome.
Their performance or task outcome was measured in terms of level of effectiveness (quality of output), efficiency (speed of output) and level of value-addition in the output (over and above specified requirements).
Interestingly, in spite of all parameters being same, their performance showed wide variation. If you are manager, you may call it normal and I am sure you may have seen such variations even among the employees at same performance rating.
Even though it looked normal, it raised some questions to ponder that while organizations are investing millions of dollars on training events to provide similar level of knowledge, skills and attitude to their employees, still they have not been able to figure out the wide variations of the performance among employees of similar caliber.
An analysis of results was performed to associate the results with several attributes and parameters. Interviews were also conducted with the participants. The long story short, the post-experiment analysis showed three distinct mechanism taking place to develop individuals to high performance.
1. Performance by learning and practicing what you do:
This mechanism historically has explained the several high performance phenomena across the corporations for several decades. This mechanism of performance triggers through learning. Individual accumulates deep skills, knowledge and experience as a result of systematic training, continuous learning and intense ‘deliberate practice’ over the years. This mechanism has been very popular among corporate managers as this mechanism deems performance as “trainable”.
I don’t deny that your high level of practice, in-depth knowledge and wide and deeper experience in fact would have played a great role in making you what you are. This mechanism helps you learn and perform at your workplace. However, time-to-expertise with this mechanism may require long time for internalization before you shine as best in what you do.
2. Performance by loving and being passionate about what you do:
In the above experiment most of the top scoring employees indicated that they loved doing what was assigned to them and they described being passionate about task assigned to them. This made them as a task leader. Interesting finding was that performers who described this mechanism as the reason for their performance actually outperformed the professionals who described first mechanism for their performance against several factors against which they were being measured.
This is no secret I guess. Several leaders have talked about this in several different ways. All means same thing: Do what you love and love what you do.
This factor of ‘loving what do’ has been seen as key differentiator between a performer and a leader. Our research indicates that this mechanism is the key to breakthrough inexplicable performance. This is a powerful mechanism which indeed differentiates between performer and a leader.
It sounds like a commonsense.
However, this commonsense seems to have taken backseat in management theories and practice.
The irony of several management and leadership training is that this key parameter remains unaddressed. May be because this entity is not easy to measure, act upon and bring in action.
3. Performance by aligning your skills and experience to what you are passionate about:
All the participants in above experiment were also asked to the extent they liked the task assigned to them. This included expressions like being passionate about or love doing it. With that information we tried matching their learning (as a function of knowledge, skills, experience and amount of practice) to the extent they expressed how much they were passionate about doing the assigned task. The interesting outcome of this analysis was that the highest scorer showed the highest level of scores in both learning part as well as high scores on their description of passionate.
Thus, skills, knowledge, experience and practice all alone is not enough to reach the peak performance. Same way, being passionate and loving what you do is also not enough to drive you to peak performance unless you have completely complementary skills, experience, knowledge and practice in the same area. This is the third mechanism of gaining performance in which you accumulate experience, skills and work upon with all the focus on what you love the most.
How does it matter to you as a professional?
Only one implication that you need to know what is that you love to do and start aligning your best skills, experience and energy on excelling in it further. This is how you can develop your personal performance into an amazing professional performance and eventually shining as task leader on whatever you do.
THIS ALIGNMENT IS THE STAGE I CALL “PERSONAL RESONANCE”.
However, this “aligning” part is the challenging one. Talking to many professionals, I realize they have no clue how to strike this alignment. The way I look at this is the high performance in professional world starts with personal performance. Personal performance eventually gets transformed into self-leadership before getting transformed into professional performance and leadership. In my next posts I will shed more light on how do you align your passions with you skills, experience and knowledge to get the resonance in personal and professional performance you craved for.