How collaboration, competition and commitment drive performance
When it comes to performance, one doesn’t see many organisations, which will put teams at the centre of their reward system.
We have all gone through yearly appraisals and, personally, more often than not, they have been a disappointing experience, mainly because of their lack of transparency and objectivity.
Prime reason for this is that the appraisal criteria aren’t in many cases clearly enough related to personal contributions to business objectives that we can actually influence. Moreover, they are used to compare individuals, who don’t always perform the same tasks or operate in different contexts.
Comparing individual performance in these circumstances is always going to be a complicated task and one that is subject to interpretation. And that is a problem. Yet, there is nothing wrong with measuring individual performance and define rewards based on it.
At the end of the day, we have been used to that from a young age, when we were at school and later in life at college.
The difference though is that during our studies, we were not competing for grades with people we had to work with. On the other hand, everyone could get the same rewards provided they got the right marks. Exams were the same for everybody. Transparency, objectivity and fairness were rarely, if at all, questioned.
As a consequence, it is a fairly common thing to see students helping each other prepare for exams or share notes, tips and tricks about certain subjects, to boost their chances of success.
Things tend to change, once in the corporate environment. People are expected to work together and maximise the use of their collective potential. However, appraisal mechanisms and reward systems often result in individual competition, at the expense of the collaboration benefits.
In the long-run, this situation drives the wrong attitudes and behaviours, with a negative impact on staff morale, retention and productivity, as a result.
To get the benefits from competition at individual level, a key driver for progress and success, the focus should shift towards encouraging and rewarding indivdual excellence, as a means to contribute to collective performance, along the lines, which enable students and sports people to grow and thrive in their disciplines.
This requires the definition not only of objective and measurable appraisal criteria, based on the individual contributions to the realisation of the business objectives, but also to consider the business objectives themselves as the result of a value chain built upon these individual contributions. Balancing the appraisal over the individual contribution and the overall outcome of this value chain creates a healthier and fairer reward foundation.
But in itself, the appraisal mechanism and reward system will not be enough to ensure that organisations are reaping the benefits of objectivity and transparency. People must also develop a mindset, by which common objectives will take precedence over personal agendas and by which individual objectives are being realised, at least in part, through team goals. Key to this mindset are direction, alignment and commitment skills.
This approach is also the one found in race sailing teams, where the only result that matters in the end is the boat ranking, resulting from the crew performance during the race. Each crew member will have a well defined role and contribution to the boat performance, which will also be critically dependent on the quality of the collaboration between the crew.
Hence, ALL4ONE consulting uses sailing and sailing-based tools to develop the team and leadership skills, attributes and behaviours, which will enable people to get the best out of themselves and of those around them, as a means to enhance organisational performance.