If managing people were easy, then it would be a snap to build peak performance in five easy steps. In all my years working with talented and smart managers, I’ve seen a lot of hard work and effort wasted following so-called management gurus and fads du jour.
While no management guru has found the golden key to unlocking the full panoply of human potential at work, several diverse areas of research shed new light on the possibilities.
Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), synthesizes research into five sequential steps managers can apply to maximize employees’ peak performance.
A psychiatrist and ADD expert, he draws on brain science, performance research and his own experience to present a proven process for getting the best from your people:
- Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.
- Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
- Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
- Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
- Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.
“Neither the individual nor the job holds the magic,” Hallowell writes. “But the right person doing the right job creates the magical interaction that leads to peak performance.”
The majority of Americans—52.3%—are unhappy at work, according to a 2014 report by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group.
According to a 2005 Harris Interactive poll, 33 percent of 7,718 employees surveyed believed they had reached a dead end in their jobs, and 21 percent were eager to change careers. Only 20 percent felt passionate about their work.
When so many skilled and motivated people spend decades moving from one job to the next, something is wrong. They clearly have not landed in the right outlets for their talents and strengths. Their brains never light up.
The better the fit, the better the performance. People require clear roles that allow them to succeed, while also providing room to learn, grow and be challenged. Like I said, it’s not easy managing for peak performance.