Performance Part 1 of Peter Buckley Partnership ‘ Licence to Practice’ programme [email_address]
"How do you improve people's performance?" Q: What determines performance?
To start with, forget all the nonsense that personality determines performance. It doesn't. It's behaviour that drives performance and personality predicts less than 10% of behaviour.
Secondly forget all the "born leader" rubbish. Leadership is about behaviour and behaviour is learned.
And thirdly forget trying to model your (or anyone else's) behaviour on what Great Leaders have done - unless you have the same job they have. There is no single set of behaviours that produces top-level performance in all jobs.
Behaviour is determined by the job. Different jobs require different behaviour. As jobs change, behaviour has to change to match the situation. Personality doesn't change - ever . A thousand children tested at age 3 showed no change in personality when tested again twenty years later. So if you can't change your personality and your job keeps changing, your performance had better be driven by something you can change, and that's behaviour.
Because jobs change rapidly and continually it's important to be able to measure these changes and to identify, in clear and specific terms, what needs to be done differently to adapt to them. Without clear measurement - of current behaviour, of targeted behaviour, and of progress between the two - change is a random process.
Change is constantly being driven by a whole range of things like policy, competition, costs, technology, innovation, information, etc. The question is what you and others need to do differently to meet these challenges. Where do you find the answer? Peter Drucker says the person to ask about what needs to be done differently to improve performance is the person doing the job, and companies like Toyota agree. However you still have to know how to ask the question the right way.
The whole idea of asking people for their ideas and suggestions - and then accepting them - is foreign to many managers. They believe they know what needs to be done differently and they believe their job is to tell people. That's what being a leader/manager is about isn't it?
Unfortunately people (you included) generally resist being told what to do. They will accept some direction but tend to bridle at too much of it. We all think more highly of our own ideas than the ideas and suggestions of other people. Therefore because ownership of change is so important, it works best when it is based on what we call an Ask Them (AT) approach rather than the far more common Tell Them (TT) approach. Toyota is a classic AT company; General Motors is the archetypical TT company. Not much more needs to be said.
Leadership and Performance Warren Buffet says "Our job is to focus on things we know can make a difference." Trite but true. Leadership is about making a difference. In simple terms it's about constantly improving your, and therefore other people's, performance. Everything you do has the potential to influence the behaviour of others. Your leadership can therefore be judged by both what you do and what you influence others to do. Effective leadership is about behaviour and behaviour change. But there are some subtle differences in the focus of leadership…..
First there's a focus on accelerating performance - moving things forward, creating change, driving a vision, constantly improving results. But additionally there is a necessary focus on sustaining performance - ensuring that systems and processes are maintained, and that things like quality, customer satisfaction and profitability remain consistent. Otherwise know as EXECUTION (see following module) Research carried out in 2004 showed that on average about 30% of performance is lost due to inadequate levels of performance sustaining behaviour. The balance between performance accelerating and performance sustaining leadership behaviour is critical for success both for individuals and organizations. Too much of the former results in loss of control and confusion; too much of the latter results in complacency and stagnation.
There is also a third set of behaviours, which nobody ever talks about, but which have a huge effect on performance. They're performance blocking behaviours . Everyone engages in them to one degree or another, but they can, and must, be confronted and controlled. They're ubiquitous because they're caused by the various pressures and stresses jobs exert on people. But the energy and effort that goes into them can be re-channelled into performance accelerating and sustaining behaviour, and that has a massive effect on performance.
The test Do you know the three things you should do to improve your performance? Do you know how to get other people to improve their performance? Do you know how to find out what motivates them? Do you know what a performance blocker is? And do you know how to transform the energy people waste on blocking behaviour into behaviour that will accelerate and sustain performance? Lessons gleaned from Business Book Bestseller Winter 2006 By Robin Stuart-Kotze Publisher: FT Prentice Hall