Fostering Peak Performance
Why are some people excellent performers while others are not? It may have less to do with the individual players than with the environment itself.
In “Six Ways to Foster Peak Performance” (Performance Improvement, 38:9, 1999), Christine Sevilla and Timothy Wells identify six initiatives to ensure that your staff has the necessary tools to perform their jobs to the best of their ability:
1 The Individual Knowledge Portfolio is a skills inventory that managers can refer to when building project teams. Staff should be encouraged to keep and post a knowledge portfolio on the company Intranet that lists the projects they have worked on, number of staff mentored, and the type of work they like the most. Over time, each portfolio should grow, improve, and add value to the company and the individual.
2 Mentoring and Apprenticeship Relationships are important in developing less experienced staff. The experts ideally receive rewards for their skill set while the “rookies” gain valuable information they need to perform their jobs. Managers will have to set clear expectations of an expert’s productivity during the mentoring process, and the expert should not be penalized.
3 Electronic Conferencing Systems can increase the quality of information shared by using everyone’s time more efficiently. Many formal business meetings can be unproductive. Instead, managers can pose questions or decisions to the appropriate parties via email. This way, participants can respond on an as-needed basis.
4 Set up an Organizational Knowledge Repository on your Intranet. It should contain information regarding each staff member’s job. For instance, a training knowledge repository could contain sets of educational materials with exercises, references, and assessments. To be successful, the main contributors to the repository must be the people actually doing the work. Managers should encourage staff contribution as well as learning from the repository itself.
5 A Community of Practice that centers around discussions of new ideas and duplication of effort can enhance overall productivity and enrich the work experience. Many times, important information is only shared when it is forced, leading to isolated skill sets and possible duplication of work. An informal community allows people to share, and build on, knowledge and work experiences.
6 Establishing Reward and Recognition inspires creative work. It is important to reward those who develop and implement new ideas that reduce costs or bring in financial gains. Also, mentors who have contributed to the successful learning of others should be recognized. There are many ways to reward employees-ask them. They will surely provide you with many ideas!
More than likely, there is a huge reservoir of talent in your organization-people who are willing to jump through hoops to get their jobs done. There is no reason to settle for mediocre performance when you have the ability to foster a positive environment and tap into your staff’s talents by giving them the best tools to do their jobs in creative and interesting ways.