Standards set the bar for achievement, and in business, that bar raises and shifts position. No wonder professionals often burnout — they’re competing in a rat race, never making it out of the maze. Work culture must move from a focus on performance to a focus on learning.
The prioritization of performance over learning persists in education, where the root of the issue lies. Many studies have shown test results are not accurate indicators of student potential, talent and knowledge. Still, the goal remains to get the A and move on to the next score goal, rather than truly learning the material — as if they’re given the time to do so in the first place. When students graduate, this damaging mindset often persists in work culture.
There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but without learning, you continue to fight the same fight. You lose in the end when you burn out and limit your potential as a professional. Prioritize education to achieve improved, sustainable performance over the long-term with these four tips.
- Ask for Feedback
Like tests, annual performance reviews rarely get into the nitty-gritty of generating improvement. This once-a-year picture usually fails the employer and employee. Feedback notes feel like a chore for both parties and don’t encourage growth or nurture development of talents.
Feedback must function collaboratively — employees want and deserve better feedback. Of all generations, millennial workers most desire regular feedback, but every worker should frequently seek it out.
CEOs should also seek feedback from their employees. More constructive, transparent and positive feedback opens the door to improved trust, communication and performance. View feedback as a learning opportunity on the road to improved performance.
- Focus on Learning Outcomes
Reviews measure how someone performs at a specific time, offering only a snapshot of an employee’s work while a focus on learning stretches the view longitudinally. Regular reviews help track the results of knowledge and provide a more holistic vantage point of learning through time. The focus on both performance and learning outcomes adds value to employee contribution and growth, but a broader lens is needed to nurture success and growth.
Develop a customized feedback process with your supervisor and plan timeframes during which you’ll regularly ask for feedback. Communicate your learning objectives to measure your performance more holistically and get a better view of how on-track you are to achieving your learning outcomes. You’ll feel less stressed and more focused on your professional development.
- Participate in Mentoring
Open up mentoring opportunities for yourself to gain knowledge and give back to those rising in the ranks. Do you admire a specific professional or entrepreneur? Arrange a time for a coffee meetup — your treat — to discuss the possibility of a mentorship.
Come to the table with your learning objectives and possible outcomes in mind. Don’t worry if what you have outlined feels abstract — this is part of the learning process. You’re gathering information and developing a pathway to learn and grow professionally.
Senior-level employees who give back usually feel good about passing on their knowledge but could stand to learn more about how they work through the process of exchange. Of Fortune 500 companies, 71 percent offer mentoring programs for employees because they realize the proven link between learning and performance.
Does the company offer mentoring programs? Why not be the first to pitch this as an idea and help set it up? Cultivate something bigger than one employee — an opportunity that benefits you in the long run, too.
- Pursue Enrichment Opportunities
Achieving the work-life balance feels like trying to clone a dinosaur — nearly impossible. You must make the time. Build a full life in your personal and professional worlds by pursuing enrichment opportunities.
Enrichment opportunities is a broad term, but one that encompasses endless potential. What opportunities for learning exist on the job and in your personal life? Take advantage of exercise programs, employer tuition reimbursement and stipends for night or online classes. Attend that life drawing or marketing class you always wanted to schedule.
What opportunities might you cultivate by talking to the right people and pitching the right ideas? Speak up.
Research reveals that satisfaction among employees relies on having a fulfilling experience on the job. One study found employers who deepened worker knowledge through enrichment opportunities possessed higher motivated teams and company loyalty. The workers were also more productive and happier due to benefits and programs that promoted recognition, achievement, advancement and responsibility.
It’s possible to achieve the right balance of completing duties and pursuing growth through learning. Open up the lines of communication toward a culture of knowledge and enrichment, and productivity and performance will follow. Honor quality over quantity.
Don’t let your focus on performance hold you back from the wealth of the learning experience. By redirecting your attention to creating learning objectives and outcomes, you can broaden your horizons and improve your performance over time.