Bridging the gap between high performance and wellbeing

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During my time as an HR leader there was a big focus on ‘high performance’.

At the time the term high performance felt like a buzzword – suggest now it’s all about ‘agile working!’.

Working in HR for a number of high profile organisations, such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, we took the approach of creating a frame work for what high performance looked like so that we could help our people understand what was expected of them on a day to day level.

What did good look like. What did great look like. And what did absolutely amazing look like!

That framework formed a competency model that we shared with our people, essentially communicating that this is what we expect of you. This is what we need you to demonstrate for us to measure your performance.

That would make sense logically, wouldn’t it?

However, what’s interesting to reflect back on now is what was lacking to support employees being able to behave in a certain way in the form of wellbeing and resilience training.

What is wellbeing and resilience?

Wellbeing and resilience is a big label! The words mean different things to different people.

Take yourself back 10 to 12 years ago and wellbeing and resilience meant employee assistance programs and occupational health.

In larger organisations you could add free fruit or some subsidised gym membership to that label, but that was about as leading edge as it got!

As for the leaders of the organisation, wellbeing and resilience may have included some type of leadership development training, but again it was very much focused on behaviour and output.

As a Psychotherapist having worked with hundreds of individuals what became apparent to me very quickly is that behaviour is actually the last thing we need to focus on when it comes to high performance.

I know that you might be reading this and thinking that doesn’t make sense! So allow me to explain…

Let’s take a step back first and understand how the mind works.

We have one mind, which has 2 dualities to it – we have the conscious mind and the unconscious mind (we also have a superconscious mind but that’s a whole different podcast!).

The conscious mind is known as the thinking mind, the pre frontal cotrex and makes up less than 5% of the over all mind.

Which means that the unconscious mind runs around 95% of your emotional responses, behaviours, thought structures and the physiology of the body. The unconscious mind is like a storehouse of programmes, much like the motherboard of a computer, keeping everything ticking over.

However, the unconscious mind can only do what it has been programmed to do.

This means that unless you are fully present, fully conscious and aware ALL of the time, then the unconscious mind is running the show.

Therefore when it comes to creating a change in our behaviour, we need to focus on 2 key components.

1. Emotions

First up you need to be able to regulate your emotions.

Think of the last time that your emotions hijacked you?.

Where your emotions had you running around, acting from a place that really wasn’t helpful!. And was absolutely not high performance!.

When your emotions are hijacking you, you’re experiencing what Psychologists refer to as amygdala hijacking.

The amygdala is part of the limbic brain and part of the freeze, fight and flight response.

When people don’t know how to regulate their emotional responses, then it’s fair to say that high performance goes out the window!

Without the knowledge of how to regulate your emotions you will simply keep reacting and responding to certain people and situations and getting triggered.

2. The power of thought

What creates your emotional responses, your feelings, is thought.

We’re told that we have about 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day.

A large number of those thoughts come and go and we don’t act on them, we don’t allow them to take over and affect our mood and behaviour.

However, certain thoughts which we place meaning on lead to another thought, which leads to another thought, which quickly builds momentum and has us caught in a spider web of thoughts.

And it is those thoughts that generate an emotional response in the form of feelings.

For example, if somebody in the team you work in has done something wrong and you start thinking “they always do this; why can’t they ever get anything right; I’m going to have to pick this up again; no one around here listens to me; I don’t have time for this; I don’t know why I bother; I’m never respect by my boss; they should see the amount of extra time I put into things…..”

You find yourself on a high speed train of thoughts which create any number of emotions from feeling frustrated to feeling angry.

If you have the level of self awareness to recognise that you have fallen into a thinking trap, and you know how to regulate your emotional response so that you don’t remain stuck getting more and more worked up then great!

However, if you stay stuck on that train of thought and you stay stuck in that emotional response then you cannot operate at a level of high performance.

Therefore, if we want our employees to be able to reach a level of high-performance and to sustain that level of high performance, then we need to bridge the gap about what we teach our people.

High performance and wellbeing at its best

To really create and sustain high performance, change has to begin from within.

Therefore when it comes to bridging the gap between high performance and wellbeing we need to go beyond running the odd wellbeing initiative.

A few employee webinars on the subject of wellbeing and resilience does not equal a resilient workforce!

We also have to recognise that change doesn’t happen over night.

To create long term profound change within our employees that leads to consistent levels of high performance we need wellbeing and resilience programmes that are both leading edge and go the distance.

Yes we can give people the basics around nutrition, hydration and movement. But to create real shifts in our thinking and emotions, we need to share with employees leading edge techniques, such as those from the world of energy psychology and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

So if you are really ready to create a high performing organisation then get in touch now and prepare to have your mind blown!

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