What is performance profiling? What can we learn from athletes as they prepare for international competitions such as the Olympics?
What is performance profiling? World-class athletes train for hours every day and often for years at a time as they prepare for international competitions such as the Olympics. That level of performance, endurance and dedication can only be achieved by having a coaching team and robust training system around them.
How do athletes stay on top of their games so consistently? Can we learn something from the way athletes work towards personal development? A growing community of sports psychologists and coaches attribute part of the successes to a technique called performance profiling. So what is performance profiling? It’s a communication system between athletes and coaches that gives the athletes a voice in how they assess and manage strengths and weaknesses.
The great thing about performance profiling is that you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the rewards. It can work just as well for achieving any personal or professional goal. If you’re looking to boost on-the-job performance, then look no further. Performance profiling might be the right tool for you.
In this blog post, we’ll explain what performance profiling is in detail. We’ll investigate how it works and learn how you can apply it to your workplace situation. Doing so can help you maximise your upskilling opportunities and achieve your career-related goals.
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What is performance profiling?
Performance profiling is a coaching tool. It’s a system to help coaches identify the strengths, weaknesses and training preferences of their athletes.
We’ll first explain how it works for athletes as the method originated from sports coaching. You’ve probably heard the sports adage that athletics is “90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical.” The exact attribution to mental and physical efforts is still under debate. But that the mental aspect is significant, is generally accepted by both coaches and athletes.
And the same applies to your work and personal life. Some of it comes down to physical restrictions, but so much of it is related to mental capacity. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a consistent way to train and develop the mental aspect of your life, too?
For decades, coaches and trainers intervened on an athlete’s journey by providing external remedies to issues that the athletes faced. For example, a gymnast who had troubles landing technical routines would get blasted by an 8-hour session on improving the shortcomings.
However, recent research suggests that they achieve better results if the athlete is part of the planning since they don’t always respond positively to external interventions. In other words, athletes want to be in control of their own training programs.
So what is performance profiling and how is it related to an athlete’s performance? It’s a survey of the athlete’s cognitive, emotional and physical needs. That survey is then compared against a baseline to assess how to develop the training regimens. The process opens up a dialogue between an athlete and their coach. This dialogue ensures that they meet the needs of both parties. If there are any discrepancies in how the two parties view the training priorities, a middle-ground can be found organically through the profiling process.
Can performance profiling be used in your everyday life?
Performance profiling is a coaching and communication system more than a purely athletic training program. That means that yes, it can apply to professional, personal, academic or business performance, too!
Especially in the management environment, performance profiling is increasingly being used to inform human resource strategies and corporate decision-making.
What makes performance profiling so effective?
Whether it’s for an athletic environment between an athlete and a trainer, or a business environment between a client and a job coach, performance profiling has many benefits:
It addresses the needs of both parties: the client and the coach.
It supports a constructive dialogue between an employer and an employee.
It helps an employer or business tangibly define performance.
It helps to determine valuable metrics to assess performance.
It gives employees and managers a way to measure their own success.
It increases focus on meaningful activities.
It boosts training and development efforts since it provides a system to identify the best training opportunities and a way to evaluate their success.
It provides a fair performance evaluation system since both parties will have agreed to the metrics.
Related: What is performance coaching?
Setting up your own performance profile at the workplace
Let’s walk through the process of setting up a performance profile at the workplace, so you can see how it can work in practice.
Introduce the idea
The first step is about bringing awareness to the process. That’s true whether you’re an employer wanting to use profiling with an employee or a business coach assessing a client. Be sure that both parties are aware that the success of the program relies on trust and openness.
Develop a profile
Next, create a profile of someone (not yourself) that would be the ideal candidate for the position. Ask yourself – what does the job look like if the best possible person were in the role?
In the athletics world, they call this ‘creating the ideal athlete’.
In the business environment, you can call it the ideal employee.
You can do this by defining the following features of the position:
- Key results: what type of work should get done?
- Key actions: how should the key results be accomplished?
- People skills: what types of people and personality skills are essential for the person to have?
- Technical skills: what type of technical skills are essential for the position? These will depend on the industry and the business in question.
- Education or training requirements: what level of training or education would the ideal candidate possess?
Now is the really interesting part. You have to do some assessments.
The first involves ranking the above profile – everything from the skills, motivation, key actions and training requirements – from the most important to the least important. A simple scale from 0 (not important) to 10 (extremely important) works well here.
The second is a self-assessment completed by the client or employee. How does the client picture themselves, from 0-10, as fulfilling the profile that was created in Step 2?
Here comes the crux of the assignment. It’s time to create the discrepancy score. It’s the gap in the rating system between the ideal candidate and the self-assessment. The bigger the gaps in each category, the bigger the need to address the shortcomings.
Use the assessment to inform the development opportunities
By now, you have a thorough analysis of what it takes to be a top-performer, and how closely you resemble that top performer in terms of abilities, skills and achieved results.
Now you’re ready to work with your coach or employer to address the issues. Use the discrepancy score to come up with training solutions and fill those gaps! The exercise should illuminate some very fitting and timely ways that you can create goals and an action plan to improve yourself as an employee or client.
Best of all, your own voice is part of the planning process. Your involvement ensures that the evaluation and the solutions are fair, rigorous and custom-suited to the needs of both you and your employer or job coach.
We hope we’ve answered the question ‘what is performance profiling?’ in enough detail so that you can use it yourself.
With performance profiling, you don’t have to be an Olympic-level athlete to benefit from the same motivational coaching regimen that high-calibre athletes use all the time.
Try using performance profiling to your advantage – whether you work with a coach, a mentor or your employer. You can even use it as part of a self-coaching program. In any case, remember that your own honesty and openness is essential to achieve the best result.
So ‘get set…get ready…and go!’ achieve your personal and professional goals!
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