“It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.”
Developing a performance culture
Performance management is not just about a system, it’s a culture. At its very core it shows what a company values and what it does not. It’s a means through which we reward and encourage certain behaviour and provides a process that enables us to correct behaviour that is not considered helpful in the business.
If a company rewards both quality of client relationships and sales targets for example, it displays a different culture to a company that only rewards sales targets. The way in which companies reward behaviour, be it individual bonuses, team bonuses or incentive trips demonstrates what values they hold.
It’s therefore imperative that businesses begin this process by first defining what they want their performance culture to look like. What does ‘good’ look like and how do we recognise it? I recently read that the best way for top talent to figure out if they want to work for a potential employer is to ask the interviewer how they reward and recognise talent.
This will indicate the type of culture a business has and whether you may be a good fit. From a business perspective, it will determine what types of employees you attract, and how customers are treated by your organisation.
There are a lot of reasons why more than half of the Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 no longer exist today, but one of the most important is that their decline is simply indicative of disruptive times.
In disruptive times we experience changes in the workplace that fundamentally shake up and change how we do business. The most disruptive times force us to take an honest look at ourselves and reconsider what we need to change to survive. Those that do not adapt often die. But it’s also true that in moments like these industries, societies and cultures move forward.
Be in-tune with your company’s performance culture
One of the biggest areas of reflection for businesses in recent years has been our traditional methods of managing performance. Performance management is considered to be one of the most important functions of a business, no matter the industry or size.
The outcomes of how we manage performance may be the most impactful events in how we get the best out of people, define and execute strategy and ultimately survive as a business. As times change and we move into the next industrial revolution, the pressure has started to mount on many companies that have to reengineer a dated system.
They are being asked to align it with the actual dynamics of work and reflect the nuances of how business has changed. This is even more important when we consider that most of today’s traditional yearly target-review processes stem from the first industrial revolution, which occurred a century ago. A survey of global executives recently admitted that they had only a 4% approval on current performance management processes.
Performance reviews trigger fight or flight
If we consider that most employee performance review techniques are linked to a basically antiquated system, then how we understand the brain can determine what modern-day performance management should look like, starting with how we review our employees.
A major breakthrough in neuroscience has led the field in reengineering performance. It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.
When these networks are triggered the brain does not prioritise its higher-order thinking and rather resorts to instinctual, unconscious behaviour in order to ensure survival. This has commonly been known as the fight or flight response. In this state the brain’s best thinking is not prioritised as the brain relies on the quick and instinctive thinking needed to ensure survival.
What’s important to remember here is that the brain uses the same neural networks for both physical and social threat. This explains how the same areas of the brain light up when we feel socially threatened in a performance review and when we hurt ourselves physically. It also explains why social isolation is used as an effective form of punishment in prison.
How to achieve a successful performance review
The challenge with performance conversations is that a crucial outcome of the conversation is for the brain to be at its best to prioritise its best thinking. A successful performance review occurs when individuals think reflectively about performance feedback and are able to adjust behaviour and move forward with a plan of action.
The problem is that most performance conversations do not achieve this result successfully because traditional performance reviews trigger a threat response that prevents the brain from being at its best.
Our work at the NeuroLeadership Institute has cumulated in a model of social triggers that can be used to better understand how these social triggers play out. The SCARF model was developed by Dr David Rock and focuses on what triggers a threat state in the brain and what can be leveraged to put the brain into its best state. These could be summarised in the questions:
- Am I being valued and respected? (Status)
- Am I in the loop? (Certainty)
- Do I have a sense of control? (Autonomy)
- Do I belong? (Relatedness)
- Am I being treated fairly compared to others? (Fairness)
A typical performance conversation is started with something along the lines of “Come in, let’s do your performance review,” or if you would like to start the conversation, “I need to give you some feedback.” This may trigger all five of the SCARF triggers and put the brain into a natural fight/flight mode.
There is no sense of what the conversation is about and no degree of control and there is a clear distinction made between manager and feedback receiver. However, by being aware of these triggers we are able to structure the same conversation in a different way.
You could begin the conversation by saying, “I need to give you feedback about X and I need 20 minutes of your time. What time is good for you today?” This conversation puts the brain into a state where it can prioritise its best thinking and is better prepared to actually think differently when given the feedback — the desired outcome of most performance management conversations.
How you can re-engineer your performance culture
At the NeuroLeadership institute we have found that many of our clients are trying to reengineer their performance culture and change the three most critical stages of the performance cycle.
These are Goal Setting, Performance Feedback and Rewards. The changes have largely been influenced by an understanding of threat states in the brain. There are a number of ways that companies are experimenting with changing performance that include removing performance ranking and decoupling bonuses from performance discussions — some of the things that actively trigger the brain’s natural threat network.
We recommend starting the change where you are in your performance journey. Some industries and cultures are more fertile for more radical changes, while others are not. In some cases, you cannot take away ratings or individual targets as the business model does not allow for it.
Some cultures are not always ready for 360o-feedback right away and some remuneration schemes are not always ready for group or shared bonuses. Further technical and system constraints may also impact what is possible. One thing everyone is ready for is to improve the quality of conversations and have them more often.
Why are you conducting performance reviews?
When we think about the performance conversation, we have to remind ourselves what the point of it is. They often deteriorate into conversations that attempt to justify performance or fight for an increase.
This is why a lot of businesses are decoupling bonus or remuneration outcomes from the outcomes of conversations. When we do so, what do we really speak about then? Performance and behaviour change, not a fight or an attempt to justify a salary or performance.
We have found that it’s useful to separate conversations. A salary discussion should ideally happen once a year and check-ins and progress conversations should happen more often. There should be more conversations about performance in a year, done in a brain-friendly manner.
It can sometimes be more stressful for the feedback giver than the feedback receiver and that is why we often delay a conversation until it’s necessary to have one and it becomes a tough conversation.
Figure 1 demonstrates the benefit of having more frequent conversations. When you have regular check-ins you are more able to catch behaviour when it is moving off course and correct the trajectory of growth so that targets are achieved and there isn’t a big surprise between planned and actual performance.
Why Your Professional Persona Matters
You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.
For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.
Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.
How do I develop a professional persona?
It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.
Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.
Create a self fulfilling prophecy
Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.
But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.
Focus on what’s important
When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.
Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.
Make yourself indispensable
One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.
For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.
Be taken more seriously
A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.
Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.
You’ll get more followers
More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.
When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.
Develop a thicker skin
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.
Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset
What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.
A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.
1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results
The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.
A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.
2. Press the reset button for the new year
The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.
Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.
3. Take small incremental steps
The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.
4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself
Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.
Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.
5. Remember that no goal is static
One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.
6. Your top tool is in your head
It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.
Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?
ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit www.accaglobal.com for more information.
Taking Care Of Mental Health Is Powerful, Not Weak
Charlamagne Tha God talks success, anxiety and mental health.
It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.
There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR – you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.
New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.
Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.
Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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