The Often-Forgotten Factor In Performance Management
No human being can be at their best all the time.
This reality is often ignored in the corporate world, whereas the greatest sports coaches take it into account in their management approach.
This is what is demonstrated by a clip from the documentary series “The Last Dance” about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in which the greatest sportsman of all times expresses his gratitude to his coach, Phil Jackson. The latter understood that even, and maybe especially, during the playoffs, his players needed to decompress from the physical and mental demands of a 100-game season. Most frequently, Michael Jordan fled to the golf course for an escape from it all.
If Michael Jordan cannot give his best all the time, neither can we or our teams. This is why managers should adopt a three-pronged approach to managing their employees’ performance:
- Reject the chimera of perpetual peak performance and admit that every member of their team, including themselves, will experience ups and downs. It is a question of physical health and mental well-being.
- Pay continuous attention to the engagement of their employees in order to perceive, or even anticipate, a decline in focus, energy and/or envy. This requires taking an interest in said employees not only as professionals but as people to understand what can affect them not only in their work but also beyond it.
- When a performance dip occurs, provided of course that it is not unjustifiable, take it into account, help the concerned person overcome it rather than simply blaming them, and put in place the necessary measures to compensate for it by soliciting the help of other team members. They will be happy to get help from their colleagues when their turn comes to be less vigorous.
This approach helps optimize the collective performance of a team. Maybe most importantly, it also builds trust within the team.