When it comes to maximising people's performance at work, I hold three key beliefs that underlie all my thinking and actions:
- People want to do the best job they possibly can
- They can be trusted
- Individuals and organisations perform at their best when they work together, rather than against each other
Of course, I'm not suggesting that these beliefs hold true all of the time - very few beliefs actually do. However, when my clients or I approach a performance issue with these 3 principles as our starting point, the options available to us for increasing performance are always far more extensive than if we were to start from a position of:
- People want to get away with doing as little as possible
- They can't be trusted
- And they will achieve most by working very hard on their own
You see, the thing is, that at both the individual level, and at the broadest generalisation, my beliefs actually are true.
Think about yourself for a moment - which set of beliefs fit you best?
Sure, sometimes you may cut a few corners, tell a few white lies or try to put one over on a colleague - but fundamentally, which one is closer to how you aspire to behaving?
So why should anyone else really be that different?
But it is amazing how many managers are completely committed to that second set of beliefs, and have plenty of evidence to support their position - about other people, of course!
I, not surprisingly, have loads of evidence to support the first set of beliefs.
And that's really the point:
You tend to get the results that you believe in
So, if you start with negative beliefs, you will tend to get negative results and if you start with positive beliefs, you will tend to get positive results.
Not always, but most of the time.
And positive results reinforce positive beliefs, resulting in an upward spiral.
Whilst the poor negative manager spirals rapidly down into deeper and deeper resignation, and worse and worse results - colecting evidence for their beliefs as they go.
Now, just in case you're getting worried - I'm definitely not talking about positive thinking here. This is not "The Secret" for high performance, and I'm not saying "think positive thoughts and you will miraculously be surrounded by positive, high performance people!"
I'm talking about basic motivational psychology - if you treat someone as if they want to do a good job, can be trusted and work well with others, and acknowledge them for doing so, they will, as a generalisation, try to live up to your expectations of them.
It ain't rocket science, but it can certainly rocket power your organisation!
Read the other parts of this series by clicking the links at the top, or below.
3 Key Beliefs for High Performance Organisations
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