The Obsession With “Development Areas”

I am passionate about developing elite level performance.

Through my work I have the opportunity to support businesses and leaders in a wide range of industries and sectors and one of the things I observe is an overwhelming obsession with talking about what people do not do so well. Their weaknesses or more politely put their development areas.

It is an obsession

Why the focus on development is killing performance

When we focus purely on the things that we could do better we start to undermine confidence and belief. When the conversation is focused purely on the things we don’t do so well we start to doubt our own skills and abilities. Coupled with the tendency in most businesses to only share feedback about what has gone wrong or is not up to standard we start to create a crisis of confidence that is actually doing the complete opposite of what is intended.

Performance management in most organisations has a lot to answer for. Rather than supporting performance growth it is largely eroding belief, creating anxiety and doubt and building a culture of mediocrity.

You see, no matter how hard you work on a genuine weakness you are only likely to achieve a good, if not average outcome. The time invested and the energy simply does not deliver an ROI! Plus, when we focus on what we don’t do so well we diminish motivation, starve ourselves of celebration and wins and basically turn work into a chore we must endure!

How to M-Power High Performance

There is a better way.

If you look to elite disciplines the focus is always on strengths first. They look to recognise unique abilities and talents and then from this lens, they look at what development will enhance performance. They explore the fine margins that take great to world class and they work exceptionally hard to hone these skill areas.

In business we can take this approach and apply it.

It starts with understanding the unique gifts and talents that our team members have – what stands them out from the person next to them. There will always be something they do better than others. What is this is unique ability?

Once we spit this talent we then should explore what will help them to take this gift and make even greater impact with it? What will enhance this gift and channel it so that it creates even better levels of outcomes?

Let me use an analogy that I have used a lot with clients. Usain Bolt is famous for being the fastest man on the planet over a short distance. He has a unique psychology and physiology that makes him an excellent sprinter. ow if we were to treat Usain like many in the corporate world are treated we would notice that he is not very good at long distance running and then make him go and work on his stamina. We would take a potential world beater and turn him into an average distance runner because we have spotted a development area and we want him to work on it.

What Bolt actually did to become the superstar he became was to focus on his strength – sprinting, and in particular his stride length when in full flow. This gave him an advantage over others. However, throughout his career he was renowned for having a slower response time and “pick up” meaning that he was often behind until, he got into full flow. So he worked on this because he knew that if he developed this aspect he could fully maximise his strength. Each millisecond saved out of the blocks would be accentuated when in full flow and this is how he became unbeatable.

It starts with strengths

It has to. We have to look at performance first through the lens of our real strengths (sprinting) and then explore how we can enhance this strength by looking at areas we have a gap in performance – these become our development goals.

Don’t get me wrong – elite performers want to ring every last drop of opportunity and they will seek out feedback and measurement to show them exactly where they can do better. They are meticulous on exploring every gap they can find between perfect and their actual. Yet it all starts with strengths.

They begin with knowing that they have a brilliant talent and everything is geared towards making this talent as good as it can be and becoming world class. They hone their craft and they seek to master what they are doing.

This is how we create elite levels of performance in our business – not wasting our time filling in paper work and having conversations about our development areas. Recognise where we make unique contributions, focus on how we can do that even better and watch your team win.

It will boost confidence, motivation, drive and passion and you will see rapid results.

If you think we can help your business and you would like to get a feel for who we are let’s have a chat.

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