Grab Those Performance Enhancers!
It’s all over the news these days. Sadly many professional sportspeople have turned to illegal performance enhancers to gain a competitive edge. We are all looking to enhance our performance in this very commercial world. What can we do to get the edge in our own industry or profession? Here is my bag of tricks.
Firstly, the ‘Hygiene’ Factors
Hygiene factors are the things that you just have to have in place no matter what – show up on time, dress appropriately, act appropriately, and do as you are told. These are not performance enhancers, but just get you to the plate from which you can show what you’re really capable of. The performance enhancers are the things you can do over and above that to make a difference and shine.
Find Best Practice
No matter what your job or profession, look at how things are done in other industries, or overseas in your own industry. This gets you some perspective of the bigger picture. Whether you run a supermarket checkout, offer professional advice for a fee, or work in a trade, there is always a lot to learn from being aware how your profession or industry is evolving in other developed markets, or how your job is carried out in other industries. Take the good lessons and apply them. You’ll sound like a guru in no time and come up with some great improvements.
Offer up ideas to the boss, regularly, and raise your head above the crowd. These ideas may be suggestions for improvement. Managers are always keen to hear about things that will also make them or their business look good. Don’t just point out perceived problems; ensure you put equal or greater emphasis on proposing solutions. Do this in writing. It ensures you have a record of your efforts and enables your suggestions to be passed around and seen by others. It also ensures the message is absorbed at a time good for your manager, not just for you. Bad timing can quash many a proactive approach. Show that you have more to offer than your basic job requirements.
“Dress for the job you want not the job you have”
This is more than a comment about fashion. It means act in the way you would if you had the job you want rather than the job you have. That might mean paying attention to a broader set of departments than the one you are in, or making organisation-wide suggestions for change or improvement. It means looking beyond and thinking about the organisation as a whole, or the future of your own department.
Monitor and measure your performance against some kind of metrics. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is an adage of managers throughout the world. Some jobs have key performance indicators like sales achieved, budgets met, or hours billed, but others don’t. You can always devise your own, for yourself and for you to show to your managers over time. You may start a measure of how you have shortened average internal meeting times, or you may start tracking the number of customers you serve per day/hour, or shelves you stock. It may be a measure of the number of colleagues you have signed up to a health and wellness initiative. It could be anything of perceived value to the organisation. If you’re going to do it, measure it, then monitor it. Then be sure to report the positive results!
Find Personal Relevance
Focus on the improvements that mean something to you personally. If you’ve bought into it, you are motivated to achieve what you set out to. If it is purely of benefit to the organisation and of no personal relevance or interest to you, you’re less likely to see it through. That could cause more damage to your personal reputation than anything. ‘Fight the battles you can win’ – if it is personally relevant to you, and achievable, then it is a performance enhancer.
Manage your Personal Reputation
Personal reputation is the be-all-and-end-all of performance enhancement in the workplace. Your image, your personal brand, is the sum total of what you take throughout life and from job to job. Manage it carefully, be kind to it, and be mindful of it at all times. I’ve been described as a ‘safe pair of hands’ and ‘like a duck on a pond’ and ‘the mortar between the bricks’. I will always remember these descriptions because they indicated how other people perceived me at that time. Whether or not I felt they were an accurate portrayal, they were clearly how I was being perceived. It is in my interest to either be aware and continue this approach, or change if I want to be perceived differently.
Just Do It
Finally, there is often a lot of talking in workplaces which verges on moaning, gossiping and complaining. This is the lazy person’s way of forming connections with others. It is better to rise above such behaviours and lead by example with positive messages (if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all) and just get on and do the job, enact a solution, or demonstrate a better practice. Less talking, more doing.
Melanie Curtis is the Principal of EDGE Market Consulting, specialising in business strategy and research and is a regular correspondent for InsideTrak