Information Is Critical to Peak Performance

A recent Leadership Report discussed employee engagement and specific conditions that need to be met for people to achieve peak performance. Those conditions are:

  • Line of sight, or the ability to connect my work to results I can affect;
  • Autonomy and involvement, or my ability to take action needed to improve results;
  • Information sharing (there are five categories here)
  • What’s in it for me (WIIFM) if I help improve our business.

In the last issue, I discussed autonomy and involvement, or how much better engaged employees perform than unengaged or disengaged employees. This Leadership Report is focused on information people need to achieve peak performance.

Here are the five categories for information sharing:

  1. Context
    Context gives us perspective.  It answers “why.”  It helps make sense of everything else.  It’s the business case for change—the argument for becoming better. Context is the foundation for change. It gives people a reason.  Without it, people lack an argument for doing things differently, which is what change is all about.
  2. Vision and Strategy
    A vision is a target, a picture of the future. A strategy is a roadmap, how you are going to create the vision.
    A vision needs to paint a clear picture of the future. It helps people understand what the finished product is supposed to look like–what needs to be different in the way we do things. A vision represents a behavioral portrait, so to speak. When we know what the portrait is supposed to look like when it’s completed, we can better understand what we need to do to contribute to the bigger picture when we have decision moments and action options.
    Strategy, then, is the plan to realize the vision, which helps people understand what needs to change and when.
  3. Linkage
    Linkage is the stake in the action. It is the quid pro quo, that binds people to the business and to each other. Linkage can represent “the deal,” an employee value proposition that represents the contract we make with our organizations.
    Different people are motivated by different things.  Some of us look for more pay, a promotion or recognition. Others of us are motivated by internal drivers such as personal work ethic, a chance to connect our own sense of worth with a sense of higher purpose, interest in a given task or the excitement about learning something new.
  4. Role
    We all want to know our responsibilities.  What results am I being held accountable for?  Which levers, if any, are exclusively mine to pull?  Which levers do I share with other team members?  What impact do the levers have on the finances of the business, on customer satisfaction, on service, on speed, on whatever is important to the business?  When I pull this lever, what happens?  When I pull that one, what happens?
    Knowing what role we play in a change effort is critical to making that effort a success.
  5. Support
    People want to improve. They want to win. But, they are often frustrated because they can’t get the support they need to deliver what is expected of them.  To make matters worse, no one bothers to tell them why the support is unavailable.
    Support comes in many forms.
    Basic information needed to make decisions. Tools to do a job. Technology, training, promotional support and information to get the job done.

When people have plenty of information in each of these five categories, they are more apt to achieve peak performance than if they have to guess what needs to be done, or don’t have the information they need to get the job done right.

Do your employees—all of your employees—have a lot of information in each of these categories?

Key Takeaway: If one of your departments, divisions, business units or teams is under performing, in all likelihood there are information gaps somewhere in this list of categories.   

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