Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pathways to Performance Improvement

Performance improvement is something everyone wants. Yet something many people do not attempt. 
We, too, can scale the barriers between us and the improvement we want. 

Everyone truly wants to improve his or her performance, possesses the desire to produce continually better work. However, individuals choose not to improve their performance. The  three obstacles to performance improvement (each one human-created)are-

1. Fear of failure. “If I strive to improve, I open the door to the possibility that I won’t.”

2. Fear of the unknown. “I know I want to be better, but I don’t know what tools to use. I don’t know what resources to apply. I am not even exactly sure what specific improvements I want or need.”

3. Fear that no one else will notice or care. “So what if I work my tail off, trying to improve, and discover that it doesn’t matter to anyone else?”

Four Critical Factors for Performance Improvement can allow anyone to solve those obstacles. The Four Critical Factors are Awareness, Appreciation, Strategy, and Accountability.

It will surely be noticed that these steps implicitly use one's personal powers--creativity, energy, and humor-- in different ways. These steps bring performance improvement into effect. You will have to “take these steps.”

1. Record Performance Daily. Use a monthly calendar—the kind with one-inch squares per day—and simply jot down your day’s “performance positives.” Five minutes at the end of each day and you will find yourself increasingly aware of your performance specifics. (Energy, Creativity, Humor) 

2. Develop Performance Community. Create an environment in which individuals have opportunities and encouragements to look closely at the specific components of the actions and functions they perform at their work. Start simply: initiate and encourage talk about the “what and how” people do as they perform their jobs. (Creativity, Energy, Humor) 

3. Share Successes. The more you share—and the more specifically you share—your successes, the more attention you pay to what comprises your performance. When you create a success—large, medium, or small—share it with others at work, at home, in any of your communities. Invite them to share their successes. (Energy, Humor, Creativity) 

4. Itemize Mistakes. Would any of us know as much as we know if we had not made mistakes? Rather than shy away from—and be embarrassed by—mistakes made, use them as teaching devices. Keep in mind, too, that not all the learning comes from our own errors. (Humor, Creativity, Energy) 

5. Read and Ask. Books and articles on relevant subjects move you toward improved performance. A gentle mental nudge can help you find salient learning points. A simple question like, “How can I use what I learn?” provides that nudge by keeping you alert to learn. Ask such a question every time you open your current book or you begin a new chapter/article. (Energy, Humor, Creativity)

Take more than one step, and take one step more than once. Give them a fair try and see if your creativity, energy and humor do not bring you performance improvement results! 

Here are five tips that might make taking one (or more) of the above steps easier for you:

1. Take one step at a time. Try it for several days in a row. 

2. Partner up. Invite a friend or associate to take a step with you. Or to take her step as you take yours. Compare reactions and results. 

3. Give yourself visual reminders. Post your current step(s) in several “reminder spots:” cell phones,refrigerator, bathroom mirror, dashboard, day planner, PC monitor. Building a new habit takes concentration. 

4. Modify the step(s) to suit you. The steps must work for you, not vice versa. 

5. Keep in mind, the purpose is performance improvement. These steps are means to an end, not the end itself.

“Awareness requires a rupture with the world we take for granted; then old categories of experience are called into question and revised.” 
(Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of the Smart Machine,1988)

Other quotes you might find interesting:

"Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all." (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” (Mahatma Gandhi) 

“Even the most abstract mind is affected by the surroundings of the body.” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) 

“Once you believe that tomorrow will be different (from today), your actions will change in line with your expectations.” (Paul Birch & Brian Clegg)

“Creative people are a bit weird.” (Alexander Hiam)

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” (A.A. Milne)

“Leap and the net will appear.” (Julia Cameron)

“It does not matter whether you paint, sculpt, or make shoes, whether you are a gardener, a farmer, a fisherman, a carpenter--it does not matter. What matters is, are you putting your very soul into what you are creating? Then your creative products have something of the quality of divine.” (Osho)

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”    (Author Unknown)

“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.” (Isaac Newton)

Tim Wright


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