By Paul Boston
How often have you found yourself attending a course, learning new skills and knowledge that you were very excited about sharing with your organization? You had great intentions to start applying these new skills to help improve your performance and the performance of your team. You share your new knowledge with your team, and people start applying the new skills. You feel what you have just learned is translating into value for your organization.
Then one day something happens. Things start to get very busy, deadlines shift around, client requirements change, and you lose some key team members. To meet the new deadlines and deliver the project to your client on time, you now have to make some important decisions based on these new facts. You start to feel yourself and your team slipping backward, performing tasks like you did before. However, you know the decisions you just made address the new circumstances and challenges you and your team now face.
“Real-time performance decisions” you make might be slightly counterintuitive and not necessarily based on the new theories you have just learned; however, such decisions are sometimes necessary to accomplish new goals and objectives. At the completion of a project, clients are usually happy with the outcome; and your team members might be a little tired and need some “recharge time,” but in general they are happy with what they have just accomplished.
We all are well-educated professionals who have a wealth of information and apply new skills and knowledge daily in our professional lives. However, the new dynamics in most organizations mean that performance is not necessarily a linear process anymore. Our daily work environments can constantly be about dealing with challenges and changes and discovering new opportunities and solutions. Great performance in many organizations is really about making the real-time performance decisions, which are not always perfect, but for the most part they address the performance requirements needed for the given time. Here are the things to keep in mind about real-time performance decisions.
Know Your Theory–Thoroughly
After attending the workshops or training seminars, spend time reviewing the materials and skills you have learned. I often ask my clients to do this for up to 6 months after attending any type of training. Then I ask them to continue making small changes in the way they perform.
By doing this, you are preparing yourself to make better and more informed real-time performance decisions because the newly acquired knowledge and skills become ingrained in your mind and your daily behavior. This will translate into real return on investment for any workshop or training program you attend.
Conduct Post-Project Reviews
I often encourage my clients to conduct post-project reviews to receive team members’ feedback and input on what went well and what did not go so well. The more open and honest you can make these reviews, the better quality feedback you will receive, gaining new insights on which real-time decisions were good and which ones did not go according to plan. This is a good way to assess if a project plan, strategy, and budget were on the mark or way off. This step is important because it will help elevate future real-time performance decisions the next time things become busy and project scope and deadlines shift around.
Remember Good Performance Is Not Linear
As I mentioned above, sometimes when we learn new performance skills and theories, we tend to think performance is a linear process, but it is not. Becoming good, and then becoming very good, involves moving beyond your normal comfort zone, applying new skills to real situations, assessing outcomes, and constantly adjusting the way you perform.
I teach these theories and skills and have been applying them for most of my adult life. Therefore, I always let my clients know that every performance challenge and situation will require a certain blend of performance skills and attitudes. How you use these skills and attitudes will be determined by the real-time performance decisions you or your leaders make for the organization.
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 www.actusperformance.com.