Synchronicity is a wonderful thing. I have had a question buzzing around for a while now about peak performance and how to further explore and identify it for my clients when coaching.
Then on the Training Journal forum, (firstname.lastname@example.org) the question was posted this week - "what is performance?" That has taken me to a place of comparing and contrasting the notion of "performance" in other contexts...
For example - if we consider performance in the arts, we could separate it as something we watched and experienced as the audience - giving applause and showing our appreciation (or not). Or we could take on the role of the critic and offer witty or pithy comments about it - but not perform ourselves. (Many professional performers don't read their critics anyway - too damaging for self esteem and confidence!)
Then I shift to wonder how improvisation arts performers - comedy, drama or jazz - would access and continue to develop their creative genius if they were subject to external feedback (or appraisal) after every impromptu experiment?
Also, a virtuoso music performance can be awesome, but I notice how moved I can become when experiencing choral music of almost any description - the sound of humanity in harmony is quite profound for me. Similarly with many orchestral performances - it works because all those deep subject matter experts are playing on the same page, conducted and led from the front.
Because we also advise on employee relations cases, I have also been noticing an inner friction for myself with some client organisations in their application and understanding of "performance management" as a management activity and often equating it with the disciplinary procedure.
So I am now pondering why managers make such efforts to transform work-based performance into something we manage externally? Or whether better results would be obtained by developing it internally? Musical performers know a good note from a wrong one, actors, comedians etc know instinctively what works and what doesn't- so why is the assumption and practice so different in the work place?
Competent, aware individuals and teams don't generally need "performance managing and disciplining" - they already have the discipline and providing they know and commmit to the requirement, can usually perform their socks off - or learn to do so.
Surely better results could come from coaching, encouraging and exploring the possibilities of developing their craft or knowledge still further?
So, next time we get asked to provide a "performance management" workshop, I might take a risk and suggest a "manager as coach" piece as an alternative.
My question is - how do you manage performance?