It is clear when browsing through business related articles, that the primary concern of professionals in every industry is performance. Performance can be defined as:

“The action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.”

We also see this in articles and books that focus on being effective, efficient, or productive.

Performance is action-oriented. It is geared towards getting things done. This is rightfully a concern among professionals. It is a valid pursuit to improve our performance, our ability to overcome obstacles and accomplish tasks. Beyond performance, however, we must assess the why and how of our work.

Why do we work? How do we go about it?

It is at this point that I want to remind ourselves that humans are in fact, human. Humans are not robots. It is important to remember that about ourselves and about those we work with.

When a co-worker is underperforming, it is important to look at what is going on behind the scenes in this person that could be contributing to their not meeting deadlines or letting details slip in their work.

The analysis could go along two avenues, first, is there something that we are doing as a company that is inhibiting this person’s ability to do their work? Lack of information, resources, or tools (as well as many other factors)? Second, is there an issue at home that is acting in a debilitating manner on their ability to work. This should be handled discreetly, but also with true concern for the individual, not merely the companies bottom line. What can we as a company do to assist them in bringing their home life into order, or create a better balance between the two?

Rewarding or punishing merely based upon performance may, in fact, be shortsighted and overly simplistic. Looking deeper at underlying issues will enhance our ability to understand why someone’s performance is at the level it is. This is true for both the over-achiever and under-performer.

Do we as a company reinforce a work/life balance that is not balanced at all? Do we “reward” those that work overtime with accolade and bonuses? Do we look down on those who “just” put in their 40 hours and go home to invest in their families? Asking those questions and reflecting on the answer will give you a picture of what you and your company values.

Remembering that my co-workers and my clients are human beings worthy of my respect and thoughtful consideration is essential to the satisfaction I derive out of my own performance. What about you?

Read Part 4 here

Read Part 3 here

Read Part 2 here

Read part 1 here