8 steps for High Performance: The ultimate key to thriving in a highly competitive professional landscape


By Dedeepya Ajith John November 27, 2018

High performance in the workplace is something that every company and employee strives to attain. However, every individual is different, with varied capabilities.

"We have a lot of individual characteristics that make up for 50% of our personality, such as intelligence, socio-economic background, looks and upbringing that we really cannot change," said Marc Effron, President of the Talent Strategy Group, speaking at the recently concluded SHRM India Annual Conference and Expo 2018.

"They either contribute or detract from performance levels. However, the other 50% is controllable and employees should focus on these to be able to perform better than others," he added.  

It is said that a man is as strong as his mind. The same holds true for high performers. If you have the mindset to perform and excel, then the odds are good that you can attain it. However, Effron says that this would involve working much harder than others, maybe burning the midnight oil and sacrificing certain activities that are dear to you, such as a hobby or time with family.

Also, high performers need to understand that performance is relative and will always be compared to others. So if you work with this mindset, you will surely outperform yourself and also others. To be a high performer is a conscious choice an individual needs to make, and if you make the choice, you need to work towards being effective. Here are 8 steps that can help you climb that ladder faster, according to Effron.

  1. Set big goals - The key to attaining high performance is to set fewer but bigger goals. There is a lot of science proving that humans respond better to bigger goals with more effort and higher results than many smaller goals. "If you set bigger goals, it will propel you to get bigger results. However, you need to choose your goals and only focus on the ones that are important," says Effron. Prioritization is the keyword to better performance. Bring in clarity of thought while setting goals by asking yourself: what would it take to deliver double the target you attained last year, and what activities do you need to include to produce those goals? This exercise will help you focus on the right things and eliminate the unwanted rubbish that deters you from attaining your goals. 

  2. Behave to perform - Understand the behaviors you should engage in to juice up your performance. It is not about being a good corporate citizen, but more about focusing on individual failures and converting them into successes because the latter will take care of it. To be able to outperform yourself and others, it is important to identify your derailers or weaknesses and work on them. They would generally depend on your core personality and would appear in stressful situations. Remove those derailers to follow a leadership and behavioral model that will increase performance.   

  3. Grow yourself - Growth is the ultimate goal for a company as it should be for each individual performer. Usually, experiences help us grow faster, but often diversity, adversity and visibility are what truly help you grow. "Try to understand what are the functional and management experiences that will add value to your growth and indulge in those," says Effron. For instance, ask yourself what the building blocks you need to be successful. "A planned and conscious approach to experiences is going to help grow yourself faster that will, in turn, allow you to be a high performer," he says.

  4. Connecting or networking - Science shows that connecting or reaching out matters both inside and beyond the organization. Within the organization, planned networking is the most efficient way of understanding the strength of the relationship with your peers and bosses. So if you are building a strong network then you are increasing the reputation value you have in the organization. Peers and subordinates will be more comfortable working with you and will have good things to say about you, while your bosses will offer new experiences that are given only to trusted performers. Similarly, connecting with competitors and colleagues outside the organization will enhance your network. A structured way of doing this is to assess the strength of your relationship with key people inside and outside the organization. This will give you a fair idea of the quality of your network and how much you need to work on it.

    Today, there are a lot of new ways of networking that are helpful especially for introverts. Use tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to reach out to peers outside the organization. 

  5. Maximize your fit - Companies are changing and evolving much faster than their employees, which means that expectations, demands and capability needs are also changing. As an employee, if you do not keep track of where the company is going and what it requires of you moving forward, you will not be an effective leader and a high performer. "Just because you are great at something today does not mean that those some same capabilities are going to lead to you performing better in the future. To be high a performer, you need to keep evolving and be the perfect fit that companies need you to be," says Effron.

  6. Fake it - Most often people take this important step to attaining high performance contrary to their growth and productivity. Effron says that faking does not mean you are going to become a fake person or permanently change who you are. It merely means that the company might have a unique requirement that demands you to behave in a certain manner for a short span. So if you want t do your job well and be a higher performer, you may need to fake that behavior for a while. For instance, if you are a calm and relaxed person who has worked in a laid-back environment so far, but your company is expanding and needs aggressive marketing and management to make tough decisions, and needs you to lead people in a more aggressive manner, you will need to fake those behaviors to attain that goal, or else be satisfied with low performance.

  7. To fake means to adapt to the situation in order to improve productivity and profitability in the organization and be a higher performer. "Sometimes you need to play a different role in a certain situation because you know that it is a more effective way to behave," says Effron. "So fake behavior does not mean a bad you but a different you to be able to be an effective you." 

  8. Commit your body - Most people feel that exercise is the key to keeping fit, to feel happy and motivated, which results in better productivity at work. However, sleep is equally important. Also, it is not the quantity of sleep that helps but the quality of sleep that matters. In fact, digital tools like sleep trackers have shown that it is the quality of sleep that contributes to high performance. You might not always get 8 perfect hours of sleep each night due to compelling reasons at work and home, but it has been scientifically proven that even if you can take 10-minute naps during the day, it is enough to improve performance. So give a boost to your body with those short naps.

  9. Avoid distractions - We all get distracted easily by inconsequential matters that deter us from attaining our goals. It is best to do those tasks that are important and work towards them in a systematic and diligent manner. Effron says, "Be a careful consumer. It will hold you in good stead always." 

To know more about the ways to be become a high performer, watch the session on THRIVING in the New World of Frontline Leadership Development by Marc Effron, the author of the book 8 Steps to High Performance. 


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