Perform or Perish: Coaching as Competitive Advantage

Performance yields production. Production is a fundamental measure of professional viability and value in organizations.  We are judged on the quantity, quality, and consistency of our performance and production.  Performance is the product of execution. It is the integration of numerous and complex motivations and actions interacting to produce behaviors favorable to our achieving desired results.  However, the behaviors necessary to achieve these desired results may not be accessible to us.

This can be a disturbing notion. Frequently, when faced with evidence of this probability, we react emotionally, informing ourselves that the data is baseless; therefore incorrect and meaningless. Moreover, we zealously reaffirm that nothing will stop us from achieving our goal. While belief and commitment are key drivers toward goal achievement, they cannot substitute for behaviors necessary to perform at the required level to achieve a desired goal.  Sadly, when the gap between actual and necessary performance differ, desired results are rendered unachievable. As a consequence the perform or perish equation is introduced.

Coaching can influence the perform to perish equation. A qualified coach can act as an objective, evidence-based evaluator of performance and potential.  As a neutral, external observer, coaches can collect and analyze performance data and provide unbiased feedback concerning performance quality.  Additionally, through the use of select performance assessments, coaches can help craft performance enhancement plans focused on high performance or offer alternative professional suggestions relative to the viability of achieving desired results.

This seems rationale and responsible; right? Wrong! Often, when confronted with the idea that a goal may not be attainable, we cognitively construct realities favoring our desires. We distort fact and bend logic to suit our perspectives and purposes. Unfortunately, when we skew evidence and orientation concerning our actual performance and associated potential, we create conditions that may become professionally detrimental.  Instead of examining the information and considering its viability relative to achieving goals, we reject it. This rejection undermines the possibility of our acquiring insights and information yielded from inquiry and discovery. It hinders personal and professional growth.

Let’s explore several perceptional errors people make that distort their perception concerning their performance.

Perceptual Distortion

Frequently, we distort our perceptions to accommodate our perspectives.  Instead of acknowledging evident performance issues, we make assumptions or inferences about evaluators’ motivations critiquing our performance.  In order to make sense of these external evaluations, we reduce our objectivity and increase subjectivity, selecting information we deem important to support a positive orientation to the performance feedback. We create context and to suit our desired outcomes. Perceptional distortions distort our view of reality, detract from goal achievement, and enable underperformance, in turn non-achievement. Dr. Jean Gordon, professor of human resource management atCapellaUniversityinMinneapolis,Minnesotastates “The influence of perceptual distortions on individuals’ perceptions of their performance can be significant.Superiorand poor performance are equally subject to distortion resulting in unrealistic expectations concerning performance and expected results.”

Expectancy

Expectancy anticipates others to living up to our expectations.  There are two types of expectancy; Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and Selective Perception.  In Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, we expect others to act in a certain way. When we behave towards others in ways we expect them to behave, they will often act as we’ve expected.  Our behaviors create the situations we expected resulting in predictable performance outcomes and reinforced perceptions. In Selective Perception, we selectively filter information in order to see and hear what we desire.  As a result, poor performance can be rationalized inhibiting objective analysis of performance gaps.

Projection

Projection is the tendency to blame our problems and difficulties on others. Projection disables accountability; it’s a defense mechanism focused on shifting responsibility for our behaviors, especially poor performance to others. Uncurbed, projection can undermine performance, hinder goal achievement, and ravage career potential.

Stereotyping

Stereotyping standardizes our perceptions of a group disregarding qualities of its individuals. It is an effort in consistency; assuming people are alike by virtue of their association with a group.  We construct categories of people, places, and things in order to minimize the amount of information-processing necessary to organize our worldview.  Stereotyping influences how we think and behave.  While it may be useful in organizing broad characteristics of groups, it can be detrimental if we allow it to distort our views of others, in turn influence our actions and performance.

Coaching as Competitive Advantage

Coaches can help identify and reduce perceptual error.  Their objective analysis of performance data can enable us to make more informed decisions concerning the viability of our goals and ability to achieve them.  Informed decision making can influence the result of the perform or perish equation.  Gain competitive personal and professional advantage. Get coached and perform to potential.

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