Put aside cynicism and concerns about cheating. There is much to learn from the Olympics’ blend of celebrating individual success whilst not losing sight of team performance.
Organisations often struggle with performance management. It’s debated, altered and debated again. Should the focus of reward be about an individual’s achievement or the collective efforts of a team? How do they inter-relate? Bonuses paid to high performing employees can be portrayed negatively both within and outside an organisation. People question the validity of their contribution and whether it’s “worth it”.
Olympic events are team activities that are delivered by outstanding individuals. Athletes and coaches are interdependent. Rewards differ and so they should. The competitor may get the glory but everyone wins. Including, (with good fortune), at team GB level.
What lessons are there for effective performance management? Success at the Olympics is calibrated, comparable, clear, lauded. In an organisation it is essential to strive to do better, know what success looks like, for there to be a transparent system of measurement, for there to be understanding and communication of each person’s contribution with clarity about how and why rewards may differ. Organisations and teams need high performing individuals. They should be celebrated and potentially cherished. But may need to be grounded. An employee who thinks they can do it alone has the potential for a short corporate career.
So there is no need to dust off your running shoes or put on your Lycra. You too can be an organisational Olympian by applying what’s great about the movement. And if performance management isn’t your thing, the following goal of the International Olympic Committee doesn’t beg further explanation. It sounds like work place nirvana; -
"The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play".
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