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As human beings, we are capable of the most amazing things. We only have to look at Olympians, concert pianists or world renowned chefs to see this.

We can also find incredible human performances much closer to home in our everyday lives. The marathon runner raising thousands for charity, the next door neighbour growing a successful business or our colleague at work getting promotion after promotion and still managing to be a nice guy!

When we’re all ‘only human’ – what separates these high performers?

High performers bring the best of themselves each day. This means doing a range of things to ensure they are ‘match fit’, so that they can not only deliver that day – but truly sustain that elite performance too.

These things include knowing and understanding their purpose – the reason why they are working towards x, staying focused on their goals, eating and drinking to perform, getting enough rest and always looking for feedback and opportunities to improve. In doing all of these things, high performers take total responsibility for their own growth, investing in themselves on every level to the best they can be.

Moving into the corporate environment, the most successful organisations are full of these high performing people, who consistently bring the best of themselves to everything they do at work. They’re efficient because they have a purpose and stay focused. They’re resilient because they’re physiologically and emotionally strong. They’re creative because they’re nourished and rested. They’re growing all the time because they’re thirsty for feedback and challenge.

So to the million dollar question – how can companies create the conditions to breed these high performing individuals?

It’s three fold.

Firstly – there’s an individual piece. Getting your people to own their own engagement and growth. Performance management is not done to them, it is driven by them.

Secondly – there’s a management piece. Developing your people managers/leaders to role model the right behaviours, provide great feedback to those around them and critically, look to grow themselves.

Thirdly – there’s an organisational piece. Embedding beliefs and behaviours that create the conditions for performance e.g. not just paying lip service to people looking after themselves but actually enabling, facilitating and demonstrating it.

There’s also another really important factor that straddles all of these – the human factor. In today’s modern workplace – complex, volatile and unpredictable – it seems we are forgetting that we are all humans with basic human needs – to feel valued and cared for. Whether the challenge is customer engagement or employee engagement – I often find the human factor is missing and these basic human needs are being ignored. We’d all do well to stop and think before we act and consider how people feel and therefore, how that should inform the actions we take.

The saying ‘I’m only human’ has always bemused me – because really, as humans, what we are capable of is so huge. As HRD’s, we need to lead work across our organisations but also at a team and individual level that pays close attention to the human bank balance of our people. Are they depleted and in the red or are they thriving and in the black? 

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