Process – Performance – Outcome…

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Tis’ the season for managerial sackings in football, combined with more doubts raised over David Moyes as manager of Manchester United following the defeat at home to Everton in the week and an insipid performance in losing to Newcastle today.  While the powers that be stated that Moyes was the right man for the job and that he will be given time, it is highly unlikely that he will be given the time that Ferguson was given before his first trophy win.  Indeed the manner of performances that the United squad, which won the title with ease last season, has put in would suggest that his period of grace is rapidly getting shorter.

The focus in football has become increasingly short term over the last 20 years, closely paralleled by that in the commercial world. With Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Arsene Wenger stands out as remarkable as a long serving manager.  In the corporate world the average length of tenure at CXO level has also decreased over the same period.

The focus is of course on results so why the ‘process, performance, outcome’ heading?

In sports psychology it has long been a mantra used to enable elite athletes to think of how they can achieve their targeted outcomes or results.  It enables a performer to work back from the outcome to focus on what they need to do in the present.

  • Outcome or result – what do you want to achieve?
  • What performance is needed to achieve the outcome?
  • What processes do you need to go through to achieve that performance?

The result is not something that is achieved in the present but is a consequence of the processes and subsequent performance.  This is equally true in the work environment.

Too much of a focus on results can end up with a number of negative impacts:

  • too much pressure on players and the possible creation of a FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) mentality
  • takes players out of the present and impairing performance

In looking at most of Manchester United’s performances this season there is a sense that the urgency has gone out of the game, not just the ‘never say die’ attitude at the end of games when they are looking for a win, but during the game they are often second to the ball when they shouldn’t be.  The fluency has gone out of their passing and they rarely dominate possession.

On the other hand, Roberto Martinez at Everton has done focused his team on the process and performance, getting his side to play a competitive passing game that has seen them able to challenge the best teams in the Premier League and, in beating United, achieve at the first time of asking what David Moyes failed to do in over a decade as Everton manager.

In a commercial context, I have often seen organisations focus on financial results without attention to the service or product they provide and the process and performance needed to do that with quality.  The upshot is invariably a reduction in value, or failure, of the organization, the exact opposite of the desired outcome.  Whether in a bank or hospital the focus needs to be on the service provided and the what processes are needed to perform this.

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