There’s been a lot of talk lately about training our people for success; and about our desire to significantly raise our level of performance in the business. Interestingly enough, these 2 words (training & performance) can be tracked to the sports arena. I wonder what we may learn by looking into some of the theories of sports training, and how they affect performance levels for elite athletes?
An interesting discussion relates to interval training. The book “The power of full engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, explains how “Russian sports scientists resurrected the concept [of interval training] in the 1960s and began applying it with stunning success to their Olympic athletes”. By pushing yourself to your limits for short periods of time, and resting between these periods of high intensity, you allow your body to recover sufficiently for the next bout of high performance. According to this theory, failing to rest will lead to “a measurable deterioration of performance”.
What would be the consequence of this training approach to the corporate arena? Loehr’s and Schwartz’ book actually encourages the application of the concept to 4 areas of our every day life: Our physical self; Our emotional self; Our spiritual self; and our intellectual self.
However, what could happen to an individual who has longer periods of performance and rest in his corporate life? One possibility is that he is seemed as not dependable. Consistency in high performance, many say, is the key to good appraisals and high bonuses at the end of the year. It is not good enough to demonstrate high levels of performance, it must be done day in, day out.
The problem with this is that in a culture that value diversity, we should account for, allow, and recognise, that different people will have different “training intervals”. For some individuals, the periods of high performance and rest could be measured in hours, or even minutes. For other individuals, it may be weeks. In a few rare ones, it could be months, or even years.
How can organisations have a fair performance appraisal system, yet account for the natural variance in these periods (at least for those people for whom ‘interval training’ at work actually works well for)?