August 23, 2021
We hear this phrase all the time, but do you know what high performance means?
Our Executive Performance Coach, Louise Otton, explains why performance has been a priority focus for Kim Simmonds in her vision for the team at Law 365.
What is high performance?
Performance is not just about sales figures, profit or the number of clients a company has. It lies at a much deeper systemic level and involves every interaction between the individuals, the leaders and teams that make up your organisation. It drives how people think, feel, and behave. If performance is challenged at one level it will impact the whole system and therefore, we need to pay attention to it holistically.
Simply put high performance is about succeeding beyond what is the norm, exceeding expectations consistently and over a long period of time.
It’s about striving for excellence not perfection and it’s about listening to each other, building great relationships, understanding each other’s needs, creating a high trust environment where people feel psychologically safe and supported to be an integral and valued part of the system.
Why is this important at Law 365?
Law 365 has grown at an incredible rate over the past year. From a start-up team of 4 people, we now have 19 members or staff and are avidly recruiting for more. That’s a 500% growth in a year!
There are two main challenges that business owners face at this stage of growth within an organisation:
- How can I sustain our existing culture?
- How do I manage a high level of performance in a small close-knit team?
As a result, we have launched a new series of High-Performance Coaching sessions which encompass six pillars of performance that we use to drive excellence at Law 365.
What are our six pillars of performance?
Through our experience of growing rapidly, and Kim’s mission to provide excellent client care to Microsoft Partners, we understand how important it is to support and empower our people to operate across these six pillars.
1. Focus and attention
High performing individuals are clear on what they want, who they are and how they will achieve their goals and with whom they will do this with. They are excellent at having laser-focused vision and will work in their zone of genius as often as they can.
Focus is the bedrock of performance.
You can’t have crystal clear focus without great energy! High performers have a great level of energy which they manage through self-awareness and self-discipline. They know what makes them feel great and they choose to behave in ways that ensure they maintain their zest, strength, and resilience.
Fortunately, there are some tried and true methods of achieving high energy – good lifestyle choices, being passionate about what you do, and never forget to have some fun.
3. Be Brave
High performers are more inclined to take risks and try new things without getting too weighed down in the ‘what ifs’. They are great decision makers and know that clear decisions and actions lead to better outcomes. By being brave they are able to stride ahead in what they do. They do not fear failure and learn from mistakes and move on quickly. Their focus and energy enable them to do this.
High performers understand what it means to be productive, they are clear on their goals and can work in a focused and concentrated way. Their ability to focus and not to get distracted helps them get more done. Managing their energy supports this. Being brave allows them to forge ahead, even when they’re out of their comfort zone.
5. Empathy and kindness
High performers have great relationships with others and place a lot of value on the importance of positive connections. Their ability to initiate and nurture relationships enables them to build a trusted team and network around them. High levels of empathy and understanding how others feel helps to make them great leaders and collaborators. Leading by example drives performance.
High performers show up and do all these things every day!
What else drives performance?
It takes a ‘village’. As we’ve said, it’s not just about individual performance. Alongside these pillars there needs to be a high level of trust and openness in the team. People need to know they can say what they think and be heard, not dismissed. Communication needs to be clear too.
Each team member needs to know exactly what their role is and what is expected of them. If there is any ambiguity, or lack of clarity around this it can cause tension or contempt which will eat away at the trust.
Leaders need to empower their teams and not micromanage them, while at the same time remaining engaged and interested. Individuals are encouraged and supported to achieve their own goals but also understand the common goal and vision and work collectively towards it, which creates a desire to do what is best for the organisation.
Watch out for the performance gremlins
This is all great on paper, but we know it is challenging to put all the pieces together and different individuals will have strengths in different areas.
Remember, we are not looking for perfection, but rather excellence that is sustained over a consistent period.
When we look at the human performance curve (below), we are aiming to remain in the pink eustress part of the curve. Eustress is when we are at optimum performance, energised and can get into flow state and do our best work. If we strive for perfection or spend time doing “busy” work that may not be important, we run the risk of overworking and ultimately burnout.
However, many people, especially leaders find themselves operating in a reactive, response mode for most of the time, being busy with a lot of moving parts that perhaps they do not need to be involved in.
“Beware the busy manager,” advises Louise.
A study in the Harvard Business Review (Beware the Busy Manager (hbr.org), that observed 200 managers at several large organisations over a decade, found that 90% of managers squandered their time in all sorts of ineffective activities. Only 10% spent their time in committed, purposeful, reflective manner.
Focused managers are not reactive, they zero in on a task and goal through to completion and this drives a culture of high performance.
At an individual level we are all responsible for owning our behaviour and actions around performance and it takes self-awareness to understand what areas to focus on. Through coaching individuals, leaders and the team are empowered to own their performance and therefore drives excellence within the system.
Top tips on how to strive for excellence every day
- Go out and actively seek feedback. Don’t be afraid of it. The more you seek and receive feedback the more you will learn and grow.
- If you must present something, practice what you are delivering so you are confident in the moment.
- Review and reflect on the work that you deliver. Ask yourself: have you done your best, does your work show you at your best? What else could you have done? Reflection is a key part of any coaching practice; it is when we do our best learning.
- Do you connect emotionally with others? How can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes to see things from their perspective?
- How can you move into your stretch zone regularly? Challenge yourself each day to try something new, however small.
- Are you paying attention to your basic human needs? Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, water, good quality food, are you connecting with others enough, are you having fun?
- Show up for yourself daily and manage your energy, focus and attention.
- Ask better questions to get the best out of others
- Be curious and be courageous!
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