Refocusing important on and off the court, says recent study.

Feb 12, 2013

(Phys.org)—If an employee's performance drops in one area, does that mean they're slacking off?

It could mean that they've simply shifted and refocused their efforts on a different set of tasks—a positive sign of that should be considered in performance evaluations, says a study lead by a researcher at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

The study, published in Human Performance, draws on statistics from professional basketball players for its data and conclusions. Researchers assessed data on more than 700 members of the NBA to see how players shifted their focus on different on-court skills and tasks over several years. A player displaying high performance scoring baskets in one season might show a shift in focus towards rebounding missed shots in another season. That could be because they were responding to a shift in their team's needs and/or a change in their coach's instructions.

Researchers found that about 10 percent of players refocused their efforts over time and were more likely to play again for the league in the next season. The findings support the idea that refocusing among job tasks is an important component of employee adaptability and should be a part of overall performance assessments. As well, they suggest that adaptability is linked to staff retention.

"Our paper is drawing attention to the measurement of performance, that refocusing is something that's important in the workplace, exists in the workplace, and for organizations to think about It as part of the job, " says Prof. Maria Rotundo of the Rotman School.

Prof. Rotundo acknowledges there are differences between and most workplaces.

But "there are parallels," too, she says, including the fact that NBA athletes are focused on a goal and must work together as a team to achieve it as they confront the different opponents. In the same way, employees in a company must work together to face market competitors and achieve their company's goals. And just like basketball players who go through changes in their team's make-up, many workplace staff must adapt to changes brought on by restructuring or the adoption of new technologies, requiring a refocus in their job's tasks.

"From a measurement perspective it's a fascinating area because the NBA ' is tracked meticulously. There's a wealth of data there," says Prof. Rotundo, who co-wrote the study with Prof. Paul Sackett of the University of Minnesota, Prof. Janelle Enns of the University of Lethbridge, and Prof. Sara Mann of the University of Guelph.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it

Jul 01, 2011

Scientists have shown that soccer players with superior ability in areas such as passing accuracy or sprint speed do not necessarily achieve better overall performance on the pitch.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.