6 Advantages of Putting Progress Over Performance

“True progress is to know more, and be more, and do more.”

– Oscar Wilde



The majority of us began our careers working for other people.  In many cases our experiences led us to strike out on our own, and start our own companies.


Whether our tenure as employees was satisfying or not, we got used to yearly reviews in which our performance was rated by other peoples’ opinions in standardized form:


  • Exceeded expectations
  • Met expectations
  • Did not meet expectations


It didn’t matter if you agreed with the assessment or not, you counted on it because your raise was dependent on it.  In fact, the majority of working stiffs spend the bulk of their professional lives trying to live up to other people’s expectations of them simply because it had a preordained percentage based on high performance.  But high performance and expectations are no more than subjective goals set by other people.


When it comes to our own businesses, that faulty methodology has, for the most part, become so ingrained in our thought patterns, we unconsciously still rate ourselves and our employees by those same, shortsighted standards that we tend to lose sight of the one change that could significantly increase our own value, and the value our employees place on themselves – and of you.


Here’s an idea for you. Rather than rate ourselves and others on performance, why not redefine expectations to and goals based on progress?


Don’t get me wrong.  Performance counts. It’s a measurement by which we prove our worth to the outside world, but it’s merely one success factor. The way to achieve greater performance is by  openly acknowledging and rewarding progress.  Our own, and our employees.


Performance alone should never be the yardstick by which we measure success. After all, it’s unrealistic to assume that achieving one specific goal means you will exceed expectations on all.


Businesses that succeed value progress over performance.  Yes, we all have deliverables and deadlines to meet, and I’m sure that most of us meet our obligations and keep our promises.  We’re smart enough to realize that being the quickest to get things done doesn’t actually mean that the work produced is going to be good, or that if we’re given the same goal in a different context, we’ll be able to guarantee a similar result. But when we build on what we’ve learned, assess what works and what doesn’t and put processes in place that expand our knowledge and increase our strengths and efficiencies, higher performance becomes a given.


For your health, and for the health of your team, focus less on performance and more on progress. Have you and your employees improved consistently? What have you learned from your achievements and failures? Establish new processes and metrics.  Ask different questions. Create new routines, systems and habits  that enable us and our teams to move forward, and  grow.


By putting processes in place that focus on progress, you’re in essence benefiting all and encouraging everyone to think in terms of, ‘Am I better today that I was yesterday’ and that’s the kind of thinking that cultivates success professionally, as well as personally.


You’ll find that you’ll be:

  1. Establishing repeatable patterns of excellence that build confidence,
  2. providing positive reinforcement and insights
  3. generating increased motivation and productivity
  4. increasing loyalty to company and culture
  5. discouraging competitiveness in the workplace
  6. reinforcing winning habits that will insure success.


Studies have shown that a progress over performance mindset actually increases performance, which is a boon not only to you and your employees, but to your customers as well.  You can’t ask for anything better than that.

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