Everyone goes through a natural cycle with their career. The start of a new job is a time when enthusiasm, energy, and professional fulfillment is at its peak. Over time the level of enthusiasm and the feeling of satisfaction may fluctuate as the reality of the job becomes clear, which can influence a person’s performance in a positive or negative manner depending upon the circumstances experienced. The most common factors that can have an impact on how a person performs on the job may include actual work conditions or perceptions about a manager, supervisor, or the company overall. It becomes challenging then not to allow performance to become conditional as employers expect peak performance from employees.

There is a common workplace expression about putting in 110% performance as an indicator of maximum productivity, which is then used to identify the high performing employees and serves as a measurement tool. A common problem that is associated with this mindset, especially for those employees who are not operating at the same level as the top performers, is that it is an expression that can be highly subjective in nature to interpret and end up de-motivating some employees. You cannot control how others perform so the best approach is to focus on what you are responsible for and that is your own performance on the job. You can decide what matters most for your career – trying to achieve an unclear level of performance or functioning to the best of your capabilities while striving to learn more and putting in your very best effort.

Can Anyone Really Give 110%?

The phrase about giving more than 100% of your capabilities is typically meant to prompt a behavioral change or instill an expectation of performance. It may mean that employees are supposed to work harder, become more energized, or put in whatever time is required to complete the job requirements. It is also used to reprimand employees when a manager believes an employee is not doing enough or not meeting the performance expectations. The employee then has to prove they are doing their best or living up to the manager's expectations. A 110% effort may indicate peak performance to some people, it may signal a need to work overtime for others, and in most of the definitions it is a condition that must be worked towards and sustained. For those employees who believe they will earn approval, recognition, or something else such as a promotion, it could lead to becoming a workaholic in the pursuit of going above and beyond the required job duties. As most experienced leaders know, at the heart of performance is motivation and that is the determining factor for the level of effort put into an employee's job. 

Sources of Motivation

When it comes to performance on the job the most common sources of motivation involve some form of rewards and recognition, which are externally-based. It is understandable that someone would seek recognition for a job well done but that can also become a source of frustration because it may be beyond what they are capable of controlling. In other words, a person can work to their best capability, produce exceptional results, and still not receive a reward or any form of acknowledgement of that performance. This is a mindset that is subject to personal interpretation regarding how a manager should recognize performance, along with expectations that are held about what a person believes they are entitled to or deserve to receive – especially if they give what they perceive to be as 110% of their best performance. If these expected forms of recognition are not received it can cause frustration and become a source of de-motivation. It becomes important then to find internalized sources of motivation, such as putting in the effort required to excel for the purpose of feeling that you have done your best on the job. This is a strategy that can serve your career well in the long term as it establishes a focused mindset of performing your personal best at all times.

Personal Accountability

It should go without saying that regardless of conditions and circumstances in the workplace, each person is responsible for their own performance on the job. It begins with a mindset, is sustained with an attitude, and then manifests through an intention to be productive, unproductive, or otherwise. Many people want the perfect work environment in order to enjoy what they do but even if that cannot be achieved every day there is no reason to let your performance fluctuate. The attitude that you choose to cultivate will always show up through your work product or job outcomes. You will experience a greater sense of self-satisfaction if you work to perform your best and change your focus from external conditions to your goals and career plan. For example, if you aspire to advance or take on additional responsibilities establish a specific goal and plan of action as steps you can take to make it a reality. Then work every day as if you are preparing for that new role, even if you ultimately decide to find a new employer. It is the establishment of a mindset of being personally accountable to yourself and your career that will work to your advantage.    

Putting in Your Very Best Effort

If you think of your career from the perspective of the effort you put into it, you can focus on developing peak performance instead of striving to reach a percentage that may or may not be realistic. While it may be easy to let circumstances influence how you feel, you can look for triggers that prompt negativity or de-motivate you and then be intentional in your decision not to let your productivity decline. You have an ability to control how you feel at all times and you get to choose how you respond to any situation. When you make a commitment to perform your very best you are taking responsibility for your actions and attitude, which allows you to work on continuous career development. Become determined to continually put in your best effort and it will create a mindset that allows you to flourish within any work conditions and demonstrate qualities such as resolve, dedication, and perseverance. This makes you a stronger employee now and a better candidate for future opportunities.

About Dr. J

Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, and online teaching. Dr. J's roles included Chief Academic Officer, Dean, Faculty Director, Faculty Development Manager, Dissertation Mentor, Faculty Workshop Facilitator, and online instructor.

Dr. J has extensive experience with curriculum development, having authored courses and curriculum for bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs. He also developed a Faculty Performance Model, Faculty Orientation Program, Faculty Training and Mentoring Program, Faculty Professional Development Courses and Workshops, and a Faculty Remedial Program.

Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.

About Affordable Quality Writing

Dr. J founded Afforded Quality Writing in 2003 to offer skill-based resume writing and strengths-based career coaching. Dr. J helps hundreds of clients each year by providing a well-written and highly effective resume, along with instilling in them a renewed self-confidence and sense of purpose.

Dr. J's Featured Resources

Dr. J's new book is available as a downloadable PDF, and as an eBook: Transform Adult Education: Expert Teaching Strategies for Educators

Dr. J also published the following resources:

  • Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs
  • Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning
  • Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business
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