Performance psychology

Performance psychology is the branch of psychology that studies the factors that allow individuals, communities and societies to flourish. Most recently, performance psychology has included the study of the psychological skills and knowledge necessary to facilitate and develop peak performance guidelines into best practice for sport, business, fitness and the performing arts.

The past few years have seen an explosion in the field of performance psychology. This growth has been primarily in the study of performance excellence in sports as applied to the field of business. Important links have been made between world-class, championship individual and team sports performance and business results. In a similar vein, there has been an increase in the interest of coaching top performers and addressing their needs, not just providing remedial coaching for underachievers. During that time, more research has been devoted to understanding the characteristics of high achievers in sports as well as business.

The importance of dedicating the study of why performers want to succeed is a critical factor. It is understandable that sports teams and individual players will reap the rewards of pay and recognition in their sport. However, the basic link to why ordinary workers want to perform best on the job is another. Business relies on the entry-level and front line worker to build the foundation of their company. Their motivation is repeatedly ignored. Even the basics of an orientation to their company is withheld due to the belief that they are dispensable. Yet they are often the face (or the voice)of the brand to the customer. If that face (or voice)is unmotivated and untrained, the brand will suffer.

Performance psychology must be integrated into the workplace at the lowest levels. Where appropriate, it should enhance work/life values because when asked (if ever asked) what motivates workers, many times more flexibility of work routine is the surprise response - even over more money. We have much to understand about the psyche of the employee if we are to expect (or to exceed) the work performance needs of the company.

Human Resource departments have failed desperately (since the 1980's when the term HR replaced Personnel) in understanding the value of performance psychology at work. Most HR staff are now number crunchers and paper pushers who couldn't care less for the average employee and who are despised by the average employee. It has been on the backs of the training groups to raise employee performance issues and then see them ignored because of their psychology implications.

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