But what stunts performance?
There’s a major, yet hidden, culprit lurking in your workplace.
It’s when employees don’t truly understand the difference between what good and great performance looks like. Thus, they spend their time on a murky “good enough” that doesn’t grow and stretch them or contribute to peak results.
Think about it. Can you truly say that for every important project or critical aspect of performance related to your job, you’d be able to define what great looks like?
Odds are, no, which means you are guessing.
So take the time to sit down with your boss and get really clear on what good is and what great is and then embrace and work towards the latter.
I mean literally spell it out–in words.
What follows are real examples from discussions I’ve had with employees where we came to a mutually acceptable definition of what good and great looks like on a variety of important performance attributes.
The discussion is often eye-opening. The light will suddenly click on how you can elevate your performance several notches or you’ll come to understand that you’re actually crushing something you thought you were just average at. Confidence increases in both the short and long term accordingly.
By the way, what’s important is that you have the conversation–not that you leverage each definition that follows exactly as is (i.e. think of what follows as examples).
Good: You get things done. People like working with you.
Great: You can’t help but lead because others want to follow. This definition sparks rich conversation on what it means to be a leader that others want to follow (again–insert your own definitions here).
Thinking and acting decisively
Good: You make firm decisions, with sufficient data in hand.
Great: You make firm decisions, with sufficient data and stakeholders in hand. (After all, people need to weigh in before they can buy in)
Getting things done
Good: You make things happen.
Great: You make the right things happen before you’re asked. And you over-invest in work that is legacy-worthy.
Good: You let fear smartly temper your risk-taking–well thought through, calculated risks only, please.
Great: You fear not taking calculated risks.
Good: Trash compactor management –You brutally prioritize and compact your workload, focusing on delivering the most important things.
Great: Accordion management –You continually re-prioritize, like an accordion you constantly contract and expand (in this case your workload) by adding more high-value work at times, taking off low-value work, and flowing to surges.
Good: You personally take on and crank through any priority you’re given.
Great: You make it personal to get work done through others as well.
Good: You consistently lead management’s thinking.
Great: You consistently lead, and largely finish, management’s thinking (with thorough, vetted thinking without major holes and with questions anticipated).
Good: You have great intelligence (IQ).
Great: You have great emotional intelligence (EQ) as well–your emotions work for you, not against you.
Attention to detail
Good: You have an eye for detail.
Great: You helicopter up and down fluidly, diving into detail where it’s appropriate but knowing when to keep your detailed attention on the bigger picture.
Good: You consistently solve problems with solid thinking.
Great: You bring problems management didn’t know they had, along with solutions.
Good: You follow through on the important things with excellence, and pick and choose the rest.
Great: You follow through relentlessly–even if it’s to say you aren’t following through. You inspire an unwavering sense of confidence that you’ve “got it covered.”
Good: You’ve made significant contributions working in the system and improving “the smell of the place.”
Great: You’ve also led unexpected contributions working on the system that have changed the DNA of the place.
Growing capability In others
Good: You invest in your people–they’d all say they’ve learned from you.
Great: You’ve become a “destination”–people seek you out to work for you.
Again, it’s much more important that you do the exercise yourself and come up with your own definitions (versus following mine exactly).
You’ll be amazed at not only how the discussion builds confidence but how it changes what you spend your time on and how much your learning, growth, and performance improves.
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