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Performance Improvement

The Reciprocity 

The Reciprocity Approach of performance improvement is a process of exploration and development that is realised within the following framework.

  • At the base of the performance pyramid lies the key building block of the reciprocity approach: the core reciprocity belief that my needs are best met by meeting the needs of all other. Individuals and teams members must recognise the significance of and consistently apply this belief for performance to improve and be sustained.

  • The core belief informs the next element in the performance pyramid, the development of Significant Others - Relationship Awareness. Individuals and team members individually and collectively develop their Relationship Self-Awareness – being conscious their needs and how they behave in the relationship; Relationship Other-awareness – being aware of needs and behaviours of ‘significant others’ (those who has a significant impact on the realisation of an individual’s or team member’s needs); and Relationship Self-Management. Relationship awareness is focused on the articulation understanding, and fulfilment of the relationship needs of all parties in the relationship.

  • As a result of increasing relationship awareness individuals team members move to the next element of Building Shared Understandings and Shared Agreements. In this element of the process, individuals and team members initially build high levels of shared understandings among all parties in the relationship. Secondly and most importantly, individuals and team members seek to build shared agreements all parties in the relationship. (Note: It is important to recognise that in a relationship just because you have shared understandings you don’t necessarily have shared agreements…you might understand but not necessarily agree.)

  • The continuing development of shared understandings facilitates of the next and most critical element in the process, the creation, development and maintenance of reciprocal (mutually-beneficial) relationships. In this element, individuals or team members explore and constantly evaluate opportunities and options to mutualise their individual needs with the needs of all others in the relationship.

  • As the levels of mutual benefit in the relationship/s increase, the outcome element of the performance pyramid is reached: the performance of the individual or team members and the team as a whole improves. Only through the conscious, rigorous and ongoing application of the preceding elements in the Reciprocity process framework can high performance be created, developed and sustained.

The “Golden Rule” of ALL Performance Conversations

“We NEVER discuss another person’s performance unless they are present!!”


“Golden Rule”

Note: the operationalisation of the Reciprocity process is not strictly linier and uni-directional in application. While it is clear that the process is underpinned by the core reciprocity belief and moves up the performance pyramid, all elements of the process function interdependently over time. For example, performance improvement informs levels of relationship reciprocity, which adds to the pool of shared understandings, which in turn builds on relationship awareness and confirms understandings, recognition of and value for the core reciprocity belief.


Specifically in terms of team performance: Developing high performance of a team also comes from building individual and shared understandings of the key factors that limit team performance. Using the performance pyramid as a model and progressing downward, my post doctoral primary research highlights the following:

  • Team performance improvement is most commonly conceptualised, structured, recognised and rewarded on an individual basis.

  • Self-benefit first is the dominant team relationship paradigm.

  • There is a limited shared understanding and significant shared misunderstanding among team members.

  • Team members have low levels of relationship awareness: self awareness, other awareness and self management.

  • Finally, team thinking is underpinned by the belief that my needs as a team member are best met by advocating for and seeking to fulfil my own needs regardless of or to the detriment of other team members needs.

As Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese Psychologist so poignantly reminds those who seek to improve team performance,

“It is the individual who is not interested in others, who has the greatest difficulty in life and provides the greatest injuries to others. It is from such an individual that all human failure springs”.


“Core Belief”
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