Hallowell (2011) explains, “What I mean by peak performance—and what most of us seek in our lives and what managers wish to help their people achieve—is consistent excellence with improvement over time at a specific task or set of tasks.” He further asserts, “Those three factors—excellence, consistency, and ongoing improvement—define peak performance for my purposes.” Managers should always be on the lookout for employees who just don’t “fit in” with the organization’s culture. “You can tell a person is not in the right role if he feels no enthusiasm for what he’s doing, if his mind never lights up, if he never gets excited about his job, if he chronically complains.” And, the author continues, “This doesn’t mean he’s a dull person or that the line of work he has chosen is intrinsically dull, just that he’s not assigned to the right task.”
Being assigned the right tasks and then being responsible for those tasks relates to the “division of labor” concept coined by Adam Smith (1776). “The goal is for employees to spend as much time as possible at the intersection of three spheres: what they like to do, what they are most skilled at doing, and what adds value to the project or organization.” For peak performance or enhancing productivity levels, many would argue that specific tasks should be assigned to specific individuals with specific skills. Strategic leaders are known for being able to quickly match skills to tasks.
HR managers need to understand the importance of employees having fun while at work. Many organizations are highly task oriented and forget the importance of being relationship oriented. “One way you can tell if your employees are in alignment with the Cycle of Excellence is to see if they are having fun.” For example, some modern managers see the value of having fun at work or even taking time off from work to just relax and reflect. For example, Bill Gates is famous “for taking seven days off, twice a year, in a secluded cabin where he reads, drinks diet Orange Crush, and thinks.”
The author provides the following recommendation for managers, “Consider having a goofy day of some sort now and then. It must conform to the basic rules and values of your organization’s culture, of course. But make it fun.” By having a goofy day at work or dressing up for certain holidays, employees are able to have some fun, which also relieves stress.
“Effective management limits bad stress as much as possible, while promoting good stress in the form of surmountable challenges.” Effective managers also understand the importance of recognizing employees for their daily contributions. The author continues, “Recognition is so powerful because it answers a fundamental human need, the need to feel valued for what we do. Managers are in a unique position to offer—or withhold—such recognition, and with it, the feeling of being valued.”
According to Hallowell (2011), there are five steps to igniting peak performance in an organization. He calls the steps the Cycle of Excellence:
Step 1—Select: Putting people into the right jobs so that their brains light up.
Step 2—Connect: Overcoming the potent forces that disconnect people in the workplace both from each other and from the mission of the organization, and restoring the force of positive connection, which is the most powerful fuel for peak performance.
Step 3—Play: Play, or imaginative engagement, catalyzes advanced work, and managers can help people tap into this phenomenally productive yet undervalued activity of the mind.
Step 4—Grapple and grow: Managers can create conditions where people want to work hard, and employees making progress at a task that is challenging and important turns ordinary performers into superstars and increases commitment.
Step 5—Shine: Doing well—shining—feels good, so giving recognition and noticing when a person shines is critical, and a culture that helps people shine inevitably becomes a culture of self-perpetuating excellence.
The five steps of the Cycle of Excellence provide a novel approach to maximizing peak performance.
Reference: Hallowell, E.M. (2011). Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review. Check Attachment
Homework Case Assignment
Draw on the material in the background readings and do additional research to prepare a magazine article in which you do the following:
- Analyze the five steps of the Cycle of Excellence and discuss the added value of using the Cycle of Excellence.
- Critique Hallowell’s Cycle of Excellence and use it as a starting point to create your own cycle of excellence. Share real-world employer examples (by employer name).
- Discuss how the cycle of excellence you have developed is the optimum approach for managing human capital.
- The magazine article you are writing should be similar to an article you might find in TD: Talent Development (magazine of the Association for Talent Development) or in HR Magazine (magazine for the Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM). Both are found in the Trident Online Library.
- Utilize at least three other reference sources to build your article. Cite sources within your paragraphs and include them in a References list at the end of your article. (Note: Even though practitioner magazine articles at times do not cite sources or have a reference section, they are needed for our academic purposes. See the Student Guide to Writing a High-Quality Academic Paper for additional information.
- Include a cover page and a reference page. Note that the deliverable for this assignment is not an essay paper, but rather a journal article formatted like other published journal articles. (Most articles are written in columnar form.)
Written Communications Assessed
As you may recall, your Written Communication skills were assessed at the “introduced level” in MGT302 (Organizational Behavior and Teamwork). Now at this “reinforced level,” MGT407 Case 3 takes written communications a step further by having you work on a submission that could be presented to a practitioner’s magazine for publication.
Later, in MGT491 (Capstone in HRM), your written communications skills will be further developed.
The skills needed in these three assignments build on each other and offer you the opportunity to enhance and practice your written communications preparation skills.
The grading rubric for written communications at the undergraduate level has been developed to measure student success in meeting the MGT407 Case 3 expectations related to written communications. Rubrics for the other two courses are included in their respective written communications assignments.