By Paul Boston

We often hear in our organizations terms such as organizational performance improvement, change management performance, performance measures, performance coaching, performance improvement plans… Well, you get the idea. I am guilty as well of using the word “performance” as most of us do, because it is our professional area of expertise. Do you ever get the feeling the word “performance” appears even more frequently outside our professional world?

One of the reasons we hear this word so much in mainstream business media is because we are undergoing a cultural shift within many businesses and organizations. It is a move away from the “production” mentality toward the “human performance” mentality, and this is not an easy shift for some organizations and industries.

After the 2008 market crash, some organizations started to recognize the need to move toward a human performance model to stay innovative and competitive in this new and rapidly evolving world economy. They realized the need to move beyond simple numeric production outputs and start looking at the quality and the cost it takes to achieve organizational results. I often ask my clients “what does great performance look like,” and I am never surprised at the wide range of answers. However, most responses have similarities such as exceed organizational goals, achieve 5% increase in productivity, or reach 20% increase in revenue. The answers tend to be the traditional quantifiable performance goals.

However, organizations that have redefined organizational performance and are moving toward the human performance model have undergone a cultural shift in thinking about how they achieve their goals and objectives. Here are some of the performance “how-tos” they use to remain competitive and innovative and produce measurable performance results.

Make real-time performance decisions
After the strategic plans have been developed and organizational goals and objectives are established, action must take place to transform a strategic plan into actual performance results. People who work in the new human performance organizations are given the ability to make real-time performance decisions based on changes and challenges within the market, with their clients, or in their own organizations. Sometimes these decisions achieve the desired outcomes, and sometimes they do not. But having the ability to continuously make real-time performance decisions allows them to realign and ultimately achieve their goals and objectives.

Failure is part of performance
Whether we like it or not, usually the best performing people, teams, and organizations have experienced failure and setbacks, which have led to their greatest performance (just look at Apple!). The new human performance organizations have removed the stigma and fear associated with failure. They let their people and teams make the real-time performance decisions; see what works and what does not work; and then apply those insights, which often leads to exceeding organizational goals and objectives. When viewed correctly, failure is often the best way to improve performance.

Great performance starts with great people
Like the term success, great performance means different things to different people. Understanding what great performance looks like in your organization and hiring to create that culture have never been more important than now. Organizations that have shifted away from the production mindset and toward the human performance mindset now look at their potential new hires from the point of view of how well a person will perform in the organization (they are looking at attitudes, values, and behaviors). During the hiring process, they spend time getting to know the actual person beyond the simple checklist of qualifications.
Organizations that have moved beyond the production mindset and now focus on the human performance are starting to embrace new opportunities and are able to continue growing within our new world economy.

About the Author
Paul Boston is the president of Actus Performance Inc., a high-performance development firm. With an undergraduate degree in consumer behavior, Paul started his professional career working in the fast pace and demanding world of marketing and advertising with Fortune 500 companies and organizations around the globe. At the same, Paul started racing at the elite level of triathlons and qualified four times for the World Triathlon Championships and started to discover performance similarities between his athletic and professional career. It was then Paul went back to school to study adult training and development, specializing in workplace performance skills. As an organizational high-performance development specialist, Paul works with clients helping them to understand the fundamental performance values, attitudes, and skills people, teams, and organizations need in our ever-changing modern day work world. For more information, please visit