“Performing vs. Performance” and how it impacts team culture.

In the corporate world, the distinction between ‘Performing’ and ‘Performance’ is often blurred, but understanding the contrast between these two terms is crucial for unlocking and nurturing high-performance teams (individuals too) and culture.

Let me explain.

When asking numerous leaders globally about how they define and measure performance, the majority point to results. Here’s the thing….. results or outcomes are in fact the lagging indicators of the performance that took place. Performance is what comes after ‘performing’. Results or outcomes are typically the tangible metrics and deliverables that are often emphasized and celebrated…. But, if there is a poor performance, it’s often too late to see and measure the ‘performing’ that led to the poor performance. 

Performing on the other hand, is about the action and process to get to the results or outcomes. This is the leading indicator of the performance results. It’s made up of actions such as the collaboration, problem-solving, and the continuous improvement that takes place to achieve the results. It involves the daily efforts, the softer less tangible skills, the behaviors, and practices that teams engage in while working towards their goals. 

Capturing the essence of ‘performing’ in a typical corporate setting can be challenging for a few reasons:

  1. With leaders and managers having limited face-to-face (online or live) time with their team members and traditional feedback tools not capturing the full spectrum of team dynamics, the essence of how someone or a team is  ‘performing’ can be missed.

  1. When the soft skills, the team interactions, and the small yet impactful day-to-day behaviors that often go unnoticed are missed, they are then also underdeveloped. Our employees’ potential is closely tied to their level of development and nurturing, and the ‘performing’ part – the soft skills that are often hard to define and measure (and yet are crucial).

  1. When there is some level of measurement, then just like defining “high-performing” which can be a challenge and quite subjective, the measurement too is subject to the perspective of the manager who has limited facetime (back at point 1). 

Picture a champion sports team. Their excellence isn’t just determined or judged by the score at the end of the game or their position at the end of the season. It’s built through constant feedback, training, observation, refinement, communication, and accountability. This continuous process, or ‘performing’, is what leads to the ultimate ‘performance’ – the wins and losses that we see publicly. 

Yet, in many corporate settings, the spotlight falls disproportionately on ‘performance,’ overshadowing the critical ‘performing’ aspect. Just like a sports team, corporate teams also need this relentless focus on ‘performing’. It involves the everyday actions and interactions, the strategies employed, team collaboration, problem-solving, the communication between team members, the giving and receiving of feedback, and the ongoing commitment to improvement. To name a few.

As such, there is a hidden cost associated with focusing solely on performance. When we recognize and reward based solely on performance, we risk masking or even encouraging unresourceful or even detrimental behaviors. Or, we might think we had a good performance, when a more enhanced focus on ‘performing’ could have led to exceeding expectations. 

Consider a salesperson who consistently hits their targets for example but leaves a trail of destruction in their wake, or creates a toxic environment for their colleagues. Their ‘performance’ in terms of numbers is commendable, but the way they got to their results, the ‘performing’, is far from ideal. This ‘performing’ and acceptance or tolerance of, erodes team culture and overall morale, ultimately impacting the team’s and company’s long-term success.

Recognizing and addressing these challenges is crucial. It’s about balancing the celebration of high performance with the mindfulness of how it’s achieved. By shining a light on and working through negative behaviors, challenges or what’s getting in the way, we not only improve the team’s overall dynamics, raise the performance of the whole team including further enhancing the true potential of our high performers. This approach ensures that success isn’t just measured in outcomes, but also in the quality of interactions and team harmony. 

So, raising the performance bar doesn’t just mean achieving higher numbers; it also means cultivating a positive, productive team environment. This dual focus is what truly elevates a team from good to outstanding, and creates a sustainable model of success. It means ‘performing’can be addressed, modified or fine tuned before the final ‘performance’ results are out. When we clear the challenges that are holding individuals and teams back, the way they begin to show up and produce really starts to shift.

By implementing a more holistic approach that values both ‘performing’ and ‘performance’, we can foster a culture where excellence is achieved not at the expense of team health, but through its enhancement. This is the hallmark of a truly high-performance team culture.

Here’s where our unique approach makes a difference. Traditional methods of measuring performance, or gaining feedback (still looking back and reflecting) may overlook the intricacies of ‘performing’. To address this, we’ve developed a cutting-edge tool based on extensive research that defines the 10 attributes and 38 sub-factors of a high-performing team. This tool goes beyond surface-level indicators to measure the ‘performing’ aspect, allowing for meaningful conversations and targeted development strategies that move the needle. It focussed on HOW the team is ‘performing’, right now.

With this tool, we can now accurately assess and nurture the soft skills and behaviors that constitute performing. By understanding and improving how teams perform daily, we set the foundation for exceptional performance results. It’s time to shift the focus from solely outcomes to the process, from just the ‘what’ to the ‘how’.

In a high-performance team culture, both performing and performance are integral. Our high performance team assessment bridges the gap, ensuring that your teams are not only achieving their goals but excelling in the process that leads there.

Are you interested to know your team’s high-performance score based on how they are currently performing? Get in touch for a conversation today.

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