How performance psychology blends in with workplace learning
6th Jun 2012
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Ever wondered how to get that extra edge on your performance at work? Geoff Greenwood tells us.
As organisations face up to solution demanding customers in distant fragmented markets, often with declining support resources, it is clear that a new approach to performance is needed. Training professionals have addressed the technical needs of their staff and management and have efficiently implemented training programs that utilise differing platforms and applications for training delivery for all. However, there is a fundamental shortfall in this and the employee's true potential, and that is the development and improvement of the mind. This gap is the mental edge or the ability to perform at the highest level under the most extreme forms of pressure, consistently.
Performance psychology addresses this area and looks to instil mental toughness and strength in its subjects. Often in the past the training of the mind has been avoided because of the stigma and unease at addressing these issues and the uncertainty at matching cost and benefit to the program. The rumour was that it was needed only in situations of mental sickness and dysfunction but performance psychology has removed this as it is a forward thinking, performance based goal achievement program culminating in outstanding experience and performance for both the individual and the organisation.
"All business people at all levels understand the needs for performance within sports. They acknowledge the need for the mental side of the game and understand when it is right and when it isn't."
Performance psychology has its roots in sport psychology and extracts all the research and science from this field and applies it to the business world. The two fields are very closely matched in terms of pressure, performance, rewards, longevity, competition and challenge. All business people at all levels understand the needs for performance within sports. They look for the results, view the challenge or game on television and play social sports themselves. They acknowledge the need for the mental side of the game and understand when it is right and when it isn't. However, they will not understand how to put it right if something goes wrong or to improve an area by mentally training in that particular skill. A couple of examples below may explain better.
- The need for energy, both in terms of creation and maintenance. The biggest threat to executives and often their company is that of their energy. This is affected by mental processes, nutrition, physical fitness, health, emotions and purpose. Performance psychology addresses this with athletes of all levels who train everyday leading to their moment.
- The need for motivation. Sport highlights how motivation really works and how this engagement can be transferred into the business world. Consider an athlete starting on a 15 year journey towards self achievement often with no compensation who drives themselves on daily towards this goal, by training their mind in the right techniques.
Training professionals need to know that this works and is proven and underpinned by the scientific research both in the lab and in an applied setting. They need to know when we talk about mental skills training that we work in areas such as motivation, professional attitude, self-confidence, team dynamics and cohesion, mental toughness and many more that will address stress, relaxation, thought and vision control along with the control of emotions and concentration for true focus. The world's greatest sporting champions acknowledge this and practice them on a daily basis to support their performance both in terms of their mind and health. If we agree that the sports and business worlds are similar then we must also agree that if the mental edge is achieved through this type of training in one then it must also apply to the other.
The benefits of this type of training are applicable to the organisation but also to the individual.
- Consistent performance even under extreme pressure always delivers success
- Financial returns because of performance with customers, suppliers, peers and other stakeholders
- Cost savings due to reduction in staff turnover dissatisfaction and ongoing recruitment costs
- Improvements in work atmosphere, environment, health and creativity of solutions
- Returns from having a fully engaged workforce eliminating excessive management time and costs
There are many more and if someone presented these benefits to you without revealing what the package was, then you would have no hesitation in implementing into your business and if you knew that it was used by organisations like the US Army, businesses such as Google, Pepsi-Co and individuals involved in Wall Street and top level sport.
The next question from trainers is how easy is it to implement such a system? This question would consider the number of trainees, at what level in the organisational structure they were, budget and access to a skilled implementer. Solutions are available either through workshops, personal coaching, train the trainer, online based material or a blended learning approach utilising the latest technology applications and platforms. Whichever solution is chosen it highlights a commitment within the organisation towards exceptional human performance for the business, its customers and the individuals themselves. A couple of terms phrased for this training are corporate athletes or executive athletes. This is not a soft or psychodynamic approach but one that is built upon realistic performance enhancing strategies, tips, tactics and interventions.
"Next time you watch your sporting hero on television, consider the sacrifice and unshakeable belief that the individual has in both their body and in their mind to help them keep performing at such a high level all the time."
So in conclusion, performance psychology can help deliver a special form of training into organisations of all sizes both in the private and public sector with differing budgets. It develops mental skills training for all, assisting a performance level that exceeds expectations of the past and allows the ability to respond after setbacks, take the critical decisions at the right moment, ensure that they have the endurance to go the distance and exhibit true intrinsic motivation, total focus, the ability to respond to stress and determination to achieve their goals. Next time you watch your sporting hero on television, consider the sacrifice and unshakeable belief that the individual has in both their body and in their mind to help them keep performing at such a high level all the time. Consider the words of Lance Armstrong a seven-times Tour De France winner who overcame advanced cancer with secondaryies in his brain and lungs: "It wasn't my body that got me through it was my mind"
Geoff Greenwood creates and delivers mental skills training and development for exceptional human performance at www.businesstrainingonline.co.uk. 25 copies of his book entitled 'The 12 biggest business problems you cannot solve...are all really mental' are available free-of-charge to members of Trainingzone's community here
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