Frustrated because you’re doing everything you can, but you’re not growing as fast as you want to, no matter what you do? You know that more is possible: these are your untapped superpowers in people performance.
There is so much pressure to hit targets, accelerate, grow exponentially – revenue and people – it’s a lot. It makes us put the pedal to the floor to drive the business, like a car, as fast as possible. When we’re caught in this rush to deliver results, we often lose sight of what’s right in front of us. Tapping into the most magnificent superpower that’s fully within our control – unleashing real, untapped people potential and performance. People collectively and individually are infinitely more capable than they can see at any moment.
In addition, a business cannot outgrow its people – especially it’s leaders. From developers, to team leaders, to customer success people, to founders, everyone can lift their capability and grow, and simultaneously everyone is the governor on the car. In addition, when leaders are not growing themselves and their leadership skills fast enough, they become the limits teams cannot exceed. We’ve all seen scaleup leadership teams replaced because their business outgrew them. They didn’t see it coming. But it’s not for lack of trying, desire, or hard work.
To scale, to grow, to get results you’re making huge investments – especially in people. Think of this investment as a pile of cash that you keep adding to, in the front passenger seat of your car (cash is energy / time / salaries & benefits / desire / effort). You’ve got this really fast car, you’re taking all the freeways to get to your destination faster, even opening up new lanes. BUT, you’re driving with all the windows down and the cash is getting sucked out of the car. In addition, you’re driving all over the road trying to grab the cash to keep it in the car. Some of it stays in your front seat, the potential you were able to realize in yourself and people around you through the conversations, the learning, the growth of people. Much of it flies out as time and energy wasted, duplicated conversations, rehashed 1-1’s with the same actions, learning that’s not actually applied, people frustration, misalignment, disengagement, burnout.
If you don’t intentionally work to develop your competence in people performance, you’ll struggle and claw and grab your way until you can’t anymore, and ultimately fail at scaling. Makes my stomach feel tight just thinking about that fear, failure, and the sucking sound of people’s energy, excitement, potential, and ultimately your lost opportunity and cash whooshing out the windows.
The old school view of performance management is about extracting the most out of people to drive results, getting “100% maximized utilization” of these human resources, reviewing the past performance, telling them what they did wrong and hoping that makes it improve, and perhaps sandwiching a compliment in there. Doing this is essentially locking your windows all the way down, leaving you trying to grab onto the cash flying out, while driving like a maniac. People are seen as “overhead”, it’s the cost of doing business. That’s ridiculous. Performance isn’t about working harder, it’s about being better and better at the stuff that matters.
Here’s an alternate view: People are possibilities. Modern people performance is all about creating the right environment, challenging and supporting, helping people bring their very best to work to do meaningful work and create great results. Unleashing people performance enables you to roll your windows up as far as makes sense, allowing the potential to go even faster, everyone pulling in the same direction, getting the results you’re aiming for. People show up differently and you can feel the momentum of helping each other bring their best, and winning together.
The switch to roll the windows up is right at your fingertips, you just have to see that, and unlock it to operate it.
The objective isn’t to roll the windows up 100% and not have any air flow in the car – the objective is to roll the windows up enough so you can still feel the wind in your hair and the cash isn’t getting sucked out in volumes.
Getting better at this, as with getting better at anything is in tiny bites, tiny steps, tiny actions repeated over time. Any of the below will get you started in 5 minutes or less. All of the below take a mindset of genuinely wanting to help people succeed, and explicitly setting this context in conversations.
Start unlocking your people performance superpowers:
|Prioritize People Performance – this is everyone’s job every day, and for leaders this IS the job. |
This is not just “communicating expectations” and “holding people accountable”; this generates the outcome of: “the person just does their job” (at or worse). Genuinely support and challenge people perform, nudging them to “better and better”, growing them even if that means they outgrow you; this generates the outcome of: “the person owns their performance and gets better”.
|Focus and do things that Matter: |
Prioritize 15 min each day to focus and take action on aspects of performance that actually matter to outcomes. This is even more critical for leaders to improve their own leadership performance.
Key Questions to Reflect on / Ask:
To get where you’re going: What is one thing you need to get better at? How would you know you’re on the path to success? What is your first small step?
|Be Intentional and Co-Create Clarity on the Outcomes|
Understand the difference between output and outcome – output is “how many 1-1’s we have” – which could be great or a total waste of time; the outcomes you’re wanting to create are “better performance, growth of the individual, growth of the team, better results, more discipline – whatever”. If that’s what you’re aiming for then 1-1’s need to be more than a check-in. How are people growing through those discussions (outcome), how are they actually effective, what actions happen from them and how are we getting better through those actions?
|Key Questions to Reflect on / Ask: |
What’s one outcome you’re trying to achieve that’s really important in your role (the outcome is the more important “why” behind the target/result)? What’s one thing you need to do more of / less of, to get you closer? How can you try that?
Reflect On: Is what you’re doing and how you’re being received getting you closer to the outcomes you’re trying to achieve? What’s one tweak you could make to how you show up, that would lead to better outcomes in these conversations?
|Create the Environment for Getting Better|
Often we are having 1-1 discussions about performance but just hammering on accountability and results, thus forcing a person to try to justify their spot “looking good”, and be good. When you’re trying to be good, your brain is in survival mode, under threat and you are not actually trying things that might make you better.It is absolutely critical to create a fertile environment for unleashing people performance. People can not get better if it’s not safe to try.
|Key Questions to Reflect on / Ask: |
What’s one thing you want to get better at to succeed in your role? What can you experiment with that you haven’t tried already? How long should we experiment with this to see if it’s working? What’s the “fail and move on” threshold? How will we know?
Read: Carol Dweck’s classic book Mindset. (or an article on the topic)
We help fast growing tech companies grow faster by accelerating people performance through short iterative cycles – just like you sprint through product development.
How do you define performance? We’re curious to know. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org