Achieving high performance in the workplace

Impress your colleagues with these expert strategies

This is Part One of a four-part series on workplace performance, read Part Two

Some people appear effortlessly awesome at their job. They excel far above peers who often have similar skills and work just as hard. There seems to be no obvious quality that differentiates them, despite their visibly elite performance so they are labelled as visionaries, prodigies, over-achievers or even geniuses.

In reality, their high performance is usually driven by superior habits, strategies, knowledge and decision-making skills in just a few key areas. When employed regularly, these few traits add up to make the difference between average and exceptional performance.

There are very few jobs on this planet whose performance isn’t impacted by other people - even jobs that we typically identify as supremely individual: e.g. chefs, hairdressers, or postmen. The master chef relies on the wait staff to bring him accurate orders in the correct sequence; the hairdresser relies on her customers to explain what they want; the postman relies on you having an easy-to-get-to, functional letterbox.

As dedicated professionals, we all spend countless hours improving our Personal Effectiveness: we do courses, perform online research, build new personal habits, etc. But we often overlook the fact that Personal Effectiveness also relies upon other people. Here, collected, are some areas to work on that will help ensure that your personal effectiveness is increased by your interactions with others, not just protected from them.

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. Mother Theresa

By managing your workplace relationships, you are able to ...

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) : Understand the importance of emotions

EQ is the ability to monitor emotions (in ourselves & in others), to identify them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

Be mindful of your emotions. Regularly behaving emotionally will cause listeners to switch off and block out what you say. It also blocks you off to learning.

Calm under pressure is one of the key qualities that distinguish successful leaders. You can only achieve this by paying close attention to your emotional reactions and (understanding the root cause) training yourself to have a more philosophical response.

Be sensitive to the emotions of others - have empathy. Empathy requires three things: listening, openness and understanding. Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with their heart, seeing with their eyes.

When we understand our team, we have a better idea of the challenges ahead of us. When people in your team feel understood by you, they are more open and communicate more honestly.

Use emotions – even negative emotions are useful. Utilize changing moods to best fit the task at hand: Frustration & anger can help get laborious tasks done; Amazement & wonder can stimulate creative problem solving.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

12 Strategies for Keeping Calm in Stressful Situations

Build Trust : Earn the ability to leverage others

Your success as a manager is directly related to how well you lead and connect with your people. People give their best when they feel valued and connected. The key to this is trust.

Trust is created, use every opportunity to work with (and for) others to build trust so you know who you can depend on when you need it.

Help others without expecting something in return; it is the best possible way to say “I care about you”.

Managing by walking around is fine, but managing by pitching in is a lot better. Helping others with their tasks gives you a deep understanding of them and their job.

Learn to ask for help. People are not going to volunteer to help out so you have to feel comfortable about asking for help.

“In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.” - Steven Covey

Never forget what you ask for - others will stop taking your requests seriously. Use a reliable personal task manager to keep track of what you need from others.

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. Charles Darwin

Build Common Ground : Focus on the customer

Without a common understanding of the purpose and goals of the organization, conflict is inevitable. Hard-working employees will often clash as they unexpectedly thwart each others' efforts in pursuit of their department's goals.

Find & communicate powerful common goals. Until a customer pays an invoice, nobody earns a dollar. We are all in the business of customer service: if you are not serving the customer, you are serving someone who is.

In matters of conflicting inter-departmental priorities, the one non-conflicting priority is to profitably serve a paying customer.

When we share a common purpose, we stop fighting about ‘who’ or ‘how’ and work together.

The customer is not dependent upon us — we are dependent upon him. The customer is not an interruption of our work — he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our businessess - he is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him - he is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. Gandhi

Focus on Outcomes : Process comes second

How you achieve a task is not nearly as important as what the task achieves

Being flexible shows respect. When others try to achieve tasks differently to how you would approach it, accommodating their ways says “I respect you”. If their method doesn't work, you can always offer to try your method later, having given their idea a chance.

When obstacles appear or situations change to get in the way of the task you are undertaking, remaining focused on the desired outcome allows you to productively re-think how you can get the desired result.

Focusing on the outcome enables collaborative problem solving. Letting go of a fixed idea of how to achieve an outcome allows often colleagues the chance to suggest novel solutions you may not have considered.

When leaders shift their focus from processes and tasks to outcomes, they begin to see a distinctively different landscape in front of them. They may take actions that they wouldn't necessarily have considered at the beginning of the assignment. They can create results that they never would have imagined, if holding a safe, task-related focus. Henry Fisher

Continued in Part Two...

This article provided by Task Manager Pro™, personal efficiency software for high-achievers.

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This is Part One of a four-part series on workplace performance, read Part Two