Two fascinating ideas come out of the expert performance research:
- It takes an average of 10 years to become expert in something
- Practice means deliberate practice, not doing by rote
Deliberate practice means pushing the boundaries of our practice – expanding our capabilities and working on new areas within our field. It also means getting feedback on how well (or badly) we are doing, and practicing afresh in light of that feedback. To build expertise it is necessary to reflect on the processes and methods used to perform well.
This is important in performance management. Whatever we are striving to do well requires both practice and feedback, both external and internal. It means keeping a record of our performance and improvements. All of which takes effort, but the months and years pass whether or not we are gaining new skills and pushing our professional capabilities forward.
And of course deliberate practice and monitoring progress is as applicable to a business or department as to an individual. The larger the group, though, the more structured the systems need to be for providing feedback.