COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- High performance in business starts with high performance by the people who make up the organization, and no one knows that better than treasury professionals. Thursday morning at the EuroFinance International Cash & Treasury Management conference, Jogi Rippel, CEO and co-founder of research firm Tignum, provided attendees with some clues as to how they can become high-performance treasurers.
Success really comes down to four pillars of performance, Rippel noted:
Performance mindset: Your thinking process when you go from meeting to meeting, etc.
Performance nutrition: Making sure your brain is working at full capacity.
Performance recovery: Making sure to balance your autonomic nervous system continuously throughout the day; taking time to recuperate between tasks.
Performance movement: Making sure you keep your energy up to reduce pain, fatigue, etc.
“It’s about the integration of all four,” he said. “All four impact your brain; all four impact your mental agility.”
Tignum noted that what is happening in your body and your brain while at work can have a significant impact on your performance. As treasurers are going from meeting to meeting, traveling the globe, answering constant emails, etc., they must take time to recuperate. If they don’t, it can have detrimental effects on their performance. “Energy is one of the main currencies you as executives and leaders need,” he said. “You have to have energy. You need to have it at work, but also outside of work.”
It is a typical practice of people who have “extreme jobs” to not give themselves the time to recover, noted Rippel. An extreme job is any job where stress levels are high, the workflow is unpredictable, the work environment is fast-paced, and you have to be available all the time. Treasury undoubtedly fits into this category. “There’s nothing bad about an extreme job,” he said. “But it requires a new level of preparation so that you can be your best and that is actually sustainable.”
Rippel noted that email in particular can be a heavy inhibitor of high performance in extreme jobs. Tignum recently performed a study on a number of students to determine the effect that frequent email interruptions have on performance, and found that they causes a drop in performance equivalent to losing 10 IQ points.
A new performance approach
Rippel provided treasury professionals with some best practices to help get them on the right track to becoming high performers.
Change how you train. Rippel noted that Germany won the World Cup in 1990. When it was assembling a team in 2006, Germany found that it had the roughly the same physiological data on its players as it did in 1990. The problem was that the game had completely changed, and therefore, it was impossible to win a trophy with the physiological parameters of 1990. “So what they did was start individual training plans, which was not common in soccer at all,” Rippel said. “Everyone has different roles on the team, so you can’t train them all the same.”
Rippel noted that most human resources departments train employees in much the same ways, and that has to change. “But business has changed. Since the recession, it has obviously changed dramatically,” he said. “We approach our own human performance like we did 20 years ago. There hasn’t been much innovation or change. That makes no sense.”
Take time to recover. Tignum did some research with the McLaren racing team. Racecar drivers wear shirts with sensors that measure their recovery level. Leading up to a race, a racecar driver often endures a long flight, followed by a multitude of meetings. For one driver in particular, his sensors read that he was only at 30 percent of his normal recovery before a race. So McLaren canceled some meetings to give him more time to recover.
“They realized how important recovery is,” Rippel said. “And for business professionals, recovery is part of high performance.”