Standards set the bar of success, and in business, that bar raises and moves the bar. No wonder professionals often burn out – they take part in a rat race and never make it out of the maze. The work culture needs to move from a focus on achievement to a focus on learning.
The prioritization of performance over learning remains in education, which is where the root of the problem lies. Many studies have shown that test scores are not accurate indicators of student potential, talent, and knowledge. Still, the goal remains to get to the A and get to the next gate instead of actually learning the material – as if they were given the time to do it in the first place. When students graduate, this harmful mindset often persists in work culture.
There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but without learning, you’ll keep fighting the same battle. You end up losing if you burn out and limit your potential as a professional. Prioritize education to use these four tips for improved, sustainable performance over the long term.
Ask for feedback
As with testing, annual performance reviews rarely make improvements. This once-a-year picture usually fails on employers and employees. Feedback notes are a chore for both parties and do not encourage the growth or development of talent.
Feedback has to work together – employees want and deserve better feedback. Of all generations, millennial workers most want regular feedback, but every worker should seek it frequently.
CEOs should also seek feedback from their employees. More constructive, more transparent and more positive feedback opens the door to more trust, communication and performance. Think of feedback as a learning opportunity to improve your performance.
Focus on learning outcomes
Reviews measure a person’s performance at a given point in time and only provide a snapshot of an employee’s work, while a focus on learning extends the view lengthways. Regular reviews help keep track of the results of knowledge and provide a more holistic perspective on learning over time. The focus on both performance and learning outcomes increases employee contribution and growth, but a broader perspective is required to drive success and growth.
Develop an individual feedback process with your manager and plan a timeframe in which you will regularly ask for feedback. Communicate your learning goals to measure your performance more holistically and get a better view of how on the right track you are to achieve your learning outcomes. You will feel less stressed and more focused on your professional development.
Take part in mentoring
Open up mentoring opportunities to gain knowledge and give back to those who rise in the ranks. Do you admire a particular professional or entrepreneur? Make an appointment for a coffee meeting – your pleasure – to discuss the possibility of mentorship.
Come to the table with your learning goals and possible outcomes. Don’t worry if what you’ve sketched feels abstract – this is part of the learning process. You will gather information and develop a way to learn and grow professionally.
Older people who give back usually feel good about sharing their knowledge, but could learn more about how they go through the sharing process. Of the Fortune 500 companies, 71 percent offer mentoring programs for employees because they see the proven relationship between learning and performance.
Does the company offer mentoring programs? Why not be the first to come up with this as an idea and help build it? Cultivate something bigger than an employee – an opportunity that you will also benefit from in the long term.
Pursue investment opportunities
Achieving work-life balance feels like trying to clone a dinosaur – almost impossible. You have to take the time. Build a fulfilling life in your personal and professional world by looking for opportunities for enrichment.
Enrichment opportunities are a broad term, but one that encompasses endless potential. What learning opportunities are there in the workplace and in your private life? Take advantage of training programs, employer reimbursement, and scholarships for night or online classes. Take the drawing or marketing course you’ve always wanted to plan.
If you spoke to the right people and brought up the right ideas, what opportunities could you take advantage of? Do you speak.
Research shows that employee satisfaction depends on fulfilling work experience. One study found that employers who deepened employee knowledge through enrichment opportunities had more motivated teams and company loyalty. Workers were also more productive and happier because of benefits and programs that promoted recognition, achievement, progress, and responsibility.
It is possible to strike the right balance between fulfilling tasks and striving for growth through learning. Open lines of communication to a culture of knowledge and enrichment, and productivity and performance will follow. Honor quality over quantity.
Don’t let your focus on achievement hold you back from the richness of the learning experience. By focusing your attention on the creation of learning objectives and outcomes, you can broaden your horizons and improve your performance over time.