We know that elite level athletes, unlike their corporate counterparts, often spend more time training than performing (though training is part of their performance). Similarly they can compete on learning, through performance reviews (corporate meetings tend to focus on operational issues, sometimes exclusively, rather than improvement) where the focus is on getting better, with feedback given and received with the intention of improving performance and criticism not taken personally. Here’s England rugby player Steve Thompson, after England’s first two games at the rugby world cup:

“Sometimes you’ve got to have a little bit of an argument. It’s like a relationship. Sometimes you get a little bit stale, don’t you? Sometimes everyone needs to give each other a little pat on the back or a little boot up the backside and that’s what’s happening. It’s perfect for us. Some reviews are nice and easy, some are harder and some are a bit more brutal. The harder meetings are just because we’ve got such high standards and we’ve got to get up to the standards again. Honesty is the best policy, as they say, ‘stab you in the belly rather than in the back’, that’s what we need. In 2003, we had exactly the same thing after the Samoa game when we came close to losing. We had to move on. Sometimes if you are winning ugly and being harsh on yourself, it’s a good place to be.”

How good are you and your team at giving, and receiving, performance focused feedback to one another? Do you need to go through a team leader or manager, or are the relationships strong and trusted enough to make that loop unnecessary.