Murphy’s Law was coined because, in 1949, an entire project (Air Force Project MX941) came to a complete halt. That happened for no other reason than because a technician installed a little transducer the wrong way round, and no one noticed.
Murphy’s boss, the project manager, already had his own law: “Avoid any action with an unacceptable outcome.” (The transducer tech didn’t know that one, apparently.) That is, however, the secret to maximizing effective performance – avoid inappropriate actions. Unfortunately, most individuals, and entire teams, often learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, there is a better way: learn from your successes. These 5 steps enable and encourage the better way.
In this two-part article, we will look at how to set the performer up for success, and in Part II, we will discuss how the performer can carry out a short, to-the-point, effective review to ensure even better performance next time.
The 5 Steps
We will use the example of delivering an important presentation. It may be to a new client, to an existing client about a new project, or to a team of colleagues. We use this example because making effective presentations is common in all medical device and biotech companies. The presenter can follow these steps with or without the help of their coach or mentor.
The process works for any set of actions, and can be applied by everyone from the CEO to the sales exec. A very powerful way to improve without taking up someone else’s time is to self-coach. That is the principle behind this process.
1. Create a title for the event that clearly communicates what the event is about. E.g. “Project X’s Success Launch Meeting” instead of just “Project X”.
2. Clarify the presentation’s goals. E.g:
- The team will understand the project’s purpose(s) and goals.
- They will be excited about contributing to its success.
- They will immediately begin to work on the details of their successful involvement. Etc.
3. Define what your own successful performance will look like, so you, the presenter, can focus on what you will actually do, say and look like to deliver the content in such a way that it gets the team to where you want them. E.g:
- Show my own enthusiasm for the project.
- Be fully prepared to deliver a perfect presentation.
- Explain critical elements clearly.
- Cover the potential pitfalls to project success.
- Listen carefully to team comments.
- Encourage appropriate questions from the team.
- Win individual agreement on each point. Etc.
4. Review previous presentations. Decide how to repeat successes and avoid shortfalls, so this presentation will be better than previous ones.
5. Score yourself on how well you already do 3 above. Use a scale of 1 – 10. Score each performance element, so you know your strengths and where you believe you need to improve. Decide on an acceptable score – say an 8. So if you look at the material you are going to present, and you decide it doesn’t go into enough detail, or it goes into too much detail, you may decide to score it a 5. You have just told yourself that your material is only half as good as it needs to be.
You can follow this for every element. If you are not a seasoned presenter, you will practice delivering the presentation, and you will be able to score your own performance, and decide where, if at all, you need to change something.
In Part II, we will discuss how to do an effective review that really enables performers to learn from their success.
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