Carl Mays: The performance depends on the performers

May. 09, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

I have agreed with people who have said my long-ago experience of teaching speech, English and drama while being an athletic coach was an odd combination.

But over the years as a professional speaker and writer I have learned just how much this “odd combination” was actually a great match. This has especially become apparent in recent years as businesses competing for customers or clients have emphasized becoming “leaner” in the production of products and services.

Since “lean” business refers to using the least and best of personnel, inventory, space, tools, processes and time, the economic climate and the ever-increasing laws and government regulations have made it more important than ever. This is why personnel performance matters more than ever.

This is why “performance psychology” has flourished recently. In particular, more business leaders are studying what accounts for performance excellence in sports and how it can be applied to business. To a somewhat lesser degree, they are also inspecting that certain “it” that successful entertainers or performers possess.

In both the sports world and the world of entertainment, various methods and schemes have been used by coaches and directors to get the most from the participants. They realize the outcome of the athletic or entertainment event depends on the performance of the participants.

They realize that just showing up and going through the motions doesn’t get the job done. And, maybe you have noticed that major college athletic scholarships and professional sports contracts have been reduced from earlier years. These programs are concentrating more on getting the most from each team member and helping each person to grow as a performer.

Along this same line, business leaders are putting more interest and time in helping top performers grow and produce, rather than putting in an inordinate amount of time, effort and money for underachievers who just show up and go through the motions. These leaders see the “lean” sense in addressing the needs of top performers, helping them to help themselves and, in turn, help the organization.

Thus, business leaders have devoted more time to understanding the characteristics of high achievers in sports and entertainment, and applying them in business.

With this subject of personnel performance already on my mind as a result of a series of business seminars in which I recently led, I read a commentary this past week about how a governmental organization was fostering mediocrity by giving annual raises to all personnel for just showing up.

The commentator posed sensible questions by asking what motivation did employees have to work harder or to offer great customer service if they were going to get paid – and get raises – for just showing up and going through the motions? Of course, the situation is just the opposite of what competitive groups in the world of reality are having to do in order to survive and advance.

Henry Ford (1863-1947), who knew a thing or two about business and human nature, said, “There are no people living who aren’t capable of doing more than they think they can do.” He also knew they could not be motivated to do better by rewarding them for just showing up and going through the motions.

— © 2013 by Carl Mays, speaker and author whose mentoring site,, is based on his book and program, “A Strategy For Winning.” E-mail to, call 436-7478 or visit