Some of you might be thinking, doesn’t every organization focus on performance? Well, I think the answer to that is … maybe.
I know in my career, I’ve worked for companies that spent a huge amount of time focused on goals, only to abandon all of them for some shiny new program. I’ve also worked in situations where achieving the result was the most important thing … and it didn’t matter who was hurt along the way. If you haven’t worked for an organization where this was the culture, it’s possible that a manager or just a department adopted that philosophy.
When I think about it, performance involves both the results and the methods used to achieve those results. And that’s why organizations should focus on performance, because it’s just as much about the pre- and the post- as it is the actions itself. There are four reasons for organizations to focus their efforts on performance:
- It creates a way for organizations, departments, and individuals to plan activities. I’m intentionally not saying goals here because performance doesn’t always have a direct goal attached to it. That being said, our performance of small tasks can have a huge impact on goals. It requires some thought and intention at every level.
- By focusing on performance, everyone stays on track. This ties a little bit into reason number one above. Regardless of the task or activity we’re asked to perform, we need to do it well. And we should want to do it to the best of our ability. The company is focused on hiring candidates who can perform, training them to perform at their best.
- Performance allows for the logical flow of information to stakeholders. When companies focus on performance, then that’s what they talk about during meetings, feedback sessions, and coaching conversations.
- It permits organizations to gauge their progress. This is where I think goals and benchmarks might factor into the conversation. When companies are focused on performance, they will want to have some sense of how well they’re performing. This can be reported to stakeholders (see reason #3) and possibly, prompt new direction (see #2).
The business world is very complex and we all have a tremendous amount of data and information to curate each day. By staying focused on performance … from an individual, team, and organizational perspective, it can help us create a filtering system. Do I need this information to perform better? Would this program help the team perform faster? Could this new process allow the organization to perform at the same level of quality while reducing costs? You see the point.
But make no mistake, focusing on performance is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s easy to get distracted. And when we get too distracted, it’s a challenge to get it back on track. It can be done though, with some honest conversation and a tremendous amount of cultural willpower.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Art District in Miami, FL14