• Andrew Wien

How to help your people be at their best

My clients tend to be obsessed with helping their direct reports and employees be at their best. They believe that having the smartest people is no good if they are not performing at their best, so they invest in both finding smart people and then helping them perform.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned there are two reasons why people are not at their best:

1. External conditions

2. Internal conditions

External conditions might be a difficult client, clashing styles with a manager, not having the tools for the job, a high stakes and unrealistic deadline, or something going awry in their personal life. Some companies have done a great job mitigating these conditions through initiatives like relevant job training, a culture of frequent feedback, and rolling out tools to help managers and their team communicate more effectively. Keep it up.

However, these tools only go so far.

What I have found matters even more is internal conditions— how people filter external events through their brain.

Are people able to keep an effective frame of mind when the external conditions become difficult? Or are they paralyzed by their to do list, push send to fast on that email, or ruminate endlessly on blowing that meeting?

Most people perform well when the external conditions are favorable. What separates the high performers from others is how they perform when the external conditions become difficult—when things go wrong, the high performers can work at their best despite unfavorable external conditions.

If your company does not help with internal conditions, beware. What we are learning through society and technology (and what was absent in formal education) has only increased stress, reduced focus, and led most folks to a general feeling of being out of control. To make matters worse, people feel this way independent of external conditions. Some people struggle to drop this feeling even on weekends.

Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are powerful frameworks to help explore your internal world. What is going on in your head when the going gets tough? How do your thoughts help or hurt your decisions and actions under stress? Are you able to unplug when you want to?

If you don’t know the answers to some of these questions, that’s okay. Check out these articles to help improve your internal conditions. They are all in my blog.

· Re-focusing after vacation

· Pushing send on that email

· How to strengthen attention

· When things go wrong

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