Wednesday, October 15, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Three
Lift Your Limitations

After returning to the top position, our office leveled off in production exactly where we had been when I took over. Once we returned to our previous level of performance, we went no further; we unknowingly reached our self-imposed barrier.

I emphasize the word self because the barriers are not imposed by the company or customers. A self-imposed barrier is nothing more than the dividing line between developed and undeveloped potential. Yet, we look at that line as though it’s a wall. Self-imposed barriers are not walls around our lives. They are the margins of our lives where nothing has been written––yet. A self-imposed barrier is nothing more than the dividing line between developed and undeveloped potential. Yet, we look at that line as though it's a wall.

Imagine what the world would be like if explorers throughout history believed that they couldn't go anywhere for the first time. That's what we were up against after my office was back at number one. Pushing production higher than ever before meant venturing into uncharted territory. We had reached the collective personal barriers of the team.

My people were not slouches. They were the best in the company and would have been the best in any company. We were already receiving monthly awards for being the top office. Success became a barrier for us. Walt Disney is remembered to this day throughout the Disney organization for warning his staff against “resting on their laurels." Ralph Waldo Emerson put it even more profoundly when he said, "A great man is always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep."

Another great executive once said to me, "Good is the enemy of best and best is the enemy of better." When most people get to be good, they start to think, "What's the point of struggling to be best? Isn't good, good enough?"

I challenged my team to break through their personal production records and they responded. I asked them to focus on their own records on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis, instead of other people's records. When they did, energy, morale, and production skyrocketed.

As our performance received increasing acclamation and overall attention, I was asked where I got all of those great people and how I built such a record-breaking team. Did I steal top producers from our competition or recruit at the top business schools? The one-word answer was "no." They were just ordinary people who discovered they could do the most extraordinary things with their newly discovered potential.

Here are some things you can do right now to help develop undeveloped potential in your team:

Meet individually with your key people to set goals: Tell them, "Don't worry about breaking anyone else's personal record. Just think about breaking your own record on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis."

Monitor each team member's progress continuously: Help that person stay focused.

Celebrate record-breaking performances: Do this on a regular basis to show your support and appreciation for your team's effort.

"Accomplishment is your birthright. Limitations are adopted."

No comments: