Breakthrough Performance: Peak Performance at breakthrough
It is general belief that performance is a function of learning. Let’s stick to this preposition for the time being in this blog. My research reveals that performance itself is not a simple bell curve as is generally depicted. It takes several years to reach the maximum or peak performance. In the performance vs. learning function, we found in our research that there were several stages or levels of performance as shown in figure:
The first level performance comes through training event or the very first learning event. During this event, the performance rises sharply but only to certain level. This is termed as ‘crawl stage’ in which you are yet to figure out how you would make the most of the learning you just received. This sudden rise is similar to charging of the capacitor. In this stage, you can perform only to a certain level as a result of training irrespective of how much you learned during the training event.
If you do not give any reinforcement or practice to this newly learned information, you may lose the performance eventually. However, in professional world, we usually practice what we learned and that’s how we start building performance steadily. This is termed as the STEADY state.
The slope of steady state can be changed by reinforcement. Larger the amount of reinforcement longer you keep the rate of slope intact. This enables you to reach to a level of optimal performance. You got to reach this level as a professional to survive your day-to-day jobs responsibilities. This is minimum level you have to show to survive in the job.
Run and Jump
As you start getting more opportunities to better handle the unpredictable parameters of your environment, you get a sharp increase in performance. The beginning portion is called RUN and later portion is called JUMP. Usually this is the strategic component of your learning that makes you shine in your job or profession for a short time.
This leads you to achieve MAXIMUM performance. As usual you cannot maintain it at same level due to dynamics of environment. We observed an inherent capacitive-type decay effect in performance. This is the maximum performance you can achieve with a given combination of skills, knowledge, attitude and environment. Here is where things defy rules. Even if you continue learning more and more at this stage, it would not mean your performance will improve. Also an interesting finding is that it declines more as you learn more. Isn’t it surprising as against the conventional theories?
Reason probably is…now you need new opportunities to experiment with. And if you don’t get it, your performance will start declining.
The critical question is: Is this performance “the” maximum possible performance you can deliver?
It may be a silly question. By definition it is termed “maximum”. Right? But real answer is NO. In our research we found that there is one more stage after ‘run and jump’.
At one point in your life there comes the “breakthrough” when you know how to use your skill, knowledge and attitude to make it resonate with your environment to give you all possible channels leading to a FLY stage leading to the PEAK performance. This point of resonance is where a breakthrough occurs. Breakthrough is certain set of alignments of internal and external forces in your personality, behavior and learning which opens up gates for new possibilities for your personal leadership. This is the stage which the organizations ideally would want to drive their top talent to be. This is the breakthrough point where they can transform their top managers or employees into leaders with peak performance.
In my subsequent posts I will shed more light on what factors control this transition and how corporates can make this breakthrough to occur fast.
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Raman K. Attri is a Training Transformational Consultant, Learning Strategist and Researcher with rare experience in shortening time-to-proficiency of employees performing complex jobs at complex organizations. Strong believer in personal performance as the starting point of any world-class leadership, he developed a scientific model Personal Resonance© to achieve peal personal performance and self-leadership. Additionally he helps trainers, learning specialists, instructional designers and training professionals with articles on proven techniques to transition successfully into training and learning management role.