What does a True High-Performance Culture look like?

Today’s employees are well-versed in the business world and have higher expectations of their employers. At the same time, employers want an innovative, steadfast and resilient workforce. In response to these needs, the human resource is budding to catch up with the tumultuous transformation. Now more than ever, business culture is about attracting, engaging and retaining the right people. Either by design or default, every business has a culture. The challenge lies in espousing a high-performance culture. While the lack of exceptional culture may go unnoticed for some time, the adverse impact of a deprived culture will ultimately destroy competitive advantage and lead to business failure.

A handful of companies boast of double profit margins and growth above their industry precincts. These high-performance companies did not get to where they are by sheer luck. Their frontrunners decided that they were not going to be bound by past policies and settled expectations.

Most companies presume that they have a high-performance culture, but the truth of the matter is very few actually do. In fact, many colossal enterprises do not have the slightest idea of what a high-performance culture looks like. But this doesn’t mean that these companies have reached a dead end. Any company can choose to create a high-performance culture regardless of its past, competition or industry. 

High-performance companies abide by an ethic that is manifested along two dire dimensions: determination and implementation. They set targets that trigger them to do the unthinkable and execute them with persistent discipline to deliver the unimaginable. The groundbreaking ethics are not rushed principles. They are practices that are deeply etched in the daily life of the organisation. Any company can choose to adopt these practices, but they must be accompanied with painstaking commitment.

What Can a High-Performance Culture do for a Business?

A spot-on high-performance culture provides a company with its single greatest weapon: competitive advantage. It drives the organisation, defines its actions and carves its road to success. A finely honed performance culture impacts positively across all capacities.

A high-performing culture amongst the employees is both enduring and profound. Most companies associate culture with control and imposition. But in reality, it cultivates an appetite for performance among employees and stimulates them to go the extra mile. Organisational cultures inspire employees to seek and create opportunities, anticipate needs, get involved and identify solutions, even when no one is monitoring. And they continue to elevate the bar by recognising collective achievement through teamwork. Those in highly cohesive teams are more accommodating and realistic in achieving the goals they set for themselves. Companies that use this approach to find the specifics that matter to them, find that culture is not a relic of dictatorship but a precise definition of the ‘what’ and how’.

The actual measurement of a palpably defined customer-focused strategy is directly tied to how well a company can relate to its vision, mission, brand, and community. As culture builds, managers learn to manage the quality of experience both inside and outside the company. Customers are in concurrence with established organisational culture and can quickly tell when functions are running smoothly and when they are not. And when their needs are met, they gain a sense of empowerment and to some extent authority to anchor their actions in the direction of the company’s mission. 

Leadership is the building block with which every organisational culture thrives. It blossoms in an environment where people have an unblemished sense of their role. A lack of steadfastness and sanctions usually leads to little or no culpability. On the other hand, a distinct culture recognises the fruitfulness of leadership at all levels of the company and offers a truly liberating experience for everyone involved. 

There is the ability to establish a common understanding of the objectives of a business and how to achieve them. They are not dependent on one simple factor but an expertly embroidered unit of proactive performance blocks and supportive reinforcements. This creates the biggest impact on healthy and sustainable growth thus reducing the chances of over-relying on unyielding management models. 

The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.

– Louis Gerstner

What has a major Effect on Culture?

Values Stand at the Very Heart of Decision Making

Companies need to be aware that the fundamental key to success begins with a deep understanding of its core values. Organisational values are conveyed through cultural behaviour; individual values are conveyed through personal behaviour. Employees feel truly liberated when the corporate culture strikes a balance with their values. When there is no alignment between cultural values of the organisation and personal values of employees, the result is likely to be low-slung output. 

The significant reimbursements of value alignment are immeasurable. First, a distinct culture is a powerful recruiting point. An organisation that can attract and retain talent is geared towards viable success. It outperforms other companies by a considerable margin. Secondly, there is a very close relationship between the values that make up a culture and the basis with which transformation begins. Even if re-engineering is introduced to an obstinate population, no change will be witnessed. This simply means that organisational change starts with the personal transformation of leaders and employees. Acceptable organisation values have the power to spark a change of attitude from exclusive individual focus to objective group focus involving the attainment of shareholder, employee, customer, supplier and societal prerequisites. 

Energy Drives 

Human performance is the function of a variety of influences — motivation, skills, knowledge, recognition and feedback. It is the amalgamation of these factors that results in anticipated output. High-performance leadership is the driver behind exceptional energy of teams and individuals. It drives them to be in continual contact with themselves, their company and outside world. Energetic leaders develop their own unique combination of ambition offering others a genuine reason to perform. 

Creating a high-performance culture entails designing a systematic approach to managing the performance of teams and individuals. Every employee desires an opportunity to maximise their energy, to contribute and to learn. When given the chance to concentrate on what they are best at, they will astonish. 

You have to talk about the culture before you can talk about business. 

– Peter Lai

HOW TO CREATE A HIGH-PERFORMING CULTURE

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Define Your Unique Culture

A high-performance culture has two central characteristics — it is unique and adopts a parallel set of behaviors. The particulars of a high performing culture are exclusive to a company since they are based on what will work best for the business within its defined parameters. These specifics are a set of guiding values and support systems that back up the principles.

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Remove Inhibitors to Change

It is crucial that leaders understand who they are and how their position affects their capacity to collaborate. They need to model a kind of approach that they consider essential to the success of the organisation. Once a leader has resolved his or her challenges, they can begin to systematically infuse strategic performance goals to other levels of the organisation.

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Align Leadership Traits

Leadership in a high-performance culture does not belong only to the top members of the team. It must transpire from and flow down to those in the customer facing title roles. The art of leadership must be rooted deep in the strategy of the organisation. The structural difference between team leadership and traditional leadership is that the decision-making process rests upon all team members sharing ideas and power, rather than centralising power with an individual who acts in a superior, dominant position. 

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Rally Performance through Transparency

By sharing information with employees, an organisation can be able to increase employee sense of ownership. However, openness alone is not enough. Employees need to be trained to understand financial statements and have enough insight into the day to day numbers in the business. They will be able to identify better with results and feel more included in the process.

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Define Behaviours in the Organisation

Culture is simply defined as the way things are done. While it may sound guileless in theory, it is much more demanding to pull off in reality. Yet a staggering 60% of organisations disclose that they have no processes for behavioural development. Behavioural development is much more than a group of employees meeting to brainstorm on a project. It is the way of doing the things that organisations develop through trial and error, over time. It is the set guidelines that every single participant in a group embraces holistically, whether or not they are under supervision. 

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Humility is Key to High Performance

Humility is a virtue, but it is also a competitive edge. The knack of humility is exuded in a high performing culture. Humble people are more likely to be top performers in culture settings and they tend to make preeminent leaders. Meek leaders tend to embrace a quieter form of leadership where they guide their employees behind the scenes and let them shine.

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Know There Will be Challenges When Creating a High-Performing Culture

It is an unfortunate fact that the significance of creating a great culture often gets lost in a cascade of other business tasks that are seemingly perceived to be more urgent. While driving revenues and controlling costs is crucial to the success of an organisation, a weak talent attraction and retention effort, a misguided multigenerational workforce and an unproductive approach towards consistent high performance, often get in the way of victory.

Talent Attraction and Retention 

The success of a corporation is directly related to the degree of alignment that exists between its culture and its talent. A long-term sustainable, high-performance culture is nurtured through the clout of talent attraction and retention. To put it in a simpler way, organisational transformation begins with the right talent. A high-performance culture will naturally attract those who want to work in that type of workplace. However, identifying and developing the right people works only if the can company retain them. 

More specifically, talent attraction and retention is highly associated with the extent to which the organisation is perceived to change, quality, creativity and knowledge management. All high performing cultures share a solemn dedication to results. They are serious workplaces where failures and letdowns are inexcusable. Besides, the workforce is a made up of a team of qualified employees who are always on the lookout for superior pastures. 

The best way to deal with retention is to give it strategic importance as part of outlining the road to success. Planning is a fundamental process that enables high performing companies to review the health of their talent pipeline and establish tactics to address critical gaps. Identifying and dealing with any problems that might arise among employees opens a platform for long-term productivity, creativity, and innovation. Businesses with high performing cultures tend to select their leaders from within. Low performing cultures opt to outsource talent in a bid to bring in a new leader who will hopefully spearhead transformation. 

Multigenerational Workforce 

The secret to transforming a low-performance culture into a high-performance culture lies within the employees. But with three or more generations working side by side, challenges are bound to arise. Each of the distinctive generations comes with their own metamorphosis, which can cause friction among colleagues. This calls for serious adaptation on all ends of the high performing culture. 

The fresh-faced younger generation needs to respect and conform while the middle-aged group needs to fine-tune and remain flexible. Leaders are faced with the task of imploring their employees to rise above multigenerational differences and tackle problems as a unit. 

High-Performance Consistency 

One thing that separates high-performance organisations from the rest is their ability to deliver sustained excellence. They work creatively, collaborate efficiently, make quick decisions and achieve desired results. But maintaining high-performance levels is an ongoing process. The highly productive days, almost invariably, fail to find the right direction and get stuck on trivial tasks. 

The difference between organisations with high-performance cultures and every other business is that they tend to have more productive days than dawdle days. They exude high performance regardless of the situation. 

How to measure an High-Performance Culture

Many studies have used assessment methods to try and measure what sets apart top performing companies. But the goalmouth of identifying the most durable high performers is a challenging one. One of the setbacks is the inability of one organisation to steadily maintain high performance. Ideally, there is no single factor or metric that metes out success. Rather, high performance is a fuse of several dynamics. Using certain qualities as metrics, organisation leaders can finally ascertain whether they are on route to culture success. 

Measure Collaboration

Strong work cultures are environments in which collaborations flourish and employees work together in unity. Collaboration evaluation has two primary goals. First, it pursues to quantify changes in team performance so as to determine the extent to which new technology or processes improve the effectiveness of teams. Second, it seeks to explain the reasons for changes in efficacy levels. 

Collaboration has several layers and employee feedback is essential in getting to the bottom. Evaluators use objective and subjective measures to quantify performance. Objective measures involve face to face interrogation with employees about team cohesiveness while subjective measures are based on self-assessment and opinions. Members of one department might work spectacularly together but find it difficult to work with members of another department. It is important to incorporate both subjective and objective measures to evaluate the impact of new tools on collaboration and team performance. 

Measure Responsibility

Responsibility comprises employee accountability for activities and outcomes. It also includes their ability to make decisions regarding their work. While responsibility may seem like a detached metric, such behaviours need to be assessed on a group level and not on an individual level. Employees are willing to participate in data collection regarding their proficiencies when they are involved in decision-making.

Where do a company’s responsibilities start and stop? Historically, most organisations used to draw the line at the factory gate or office exit. But responsibilities should not be overlooked as they can actually be measured. Such are the factors that help in cutting costs and boosting sales. Benefits such as improved reputation, customer loyalty and improved motivation among employees lead to reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover and repeat purchasing. 

Measure Innovation

The capacity to envisage the future is an influential stimulus in a high-performance culture. Innovation is closely related to communication. It comes down to whether employees are able to integrate ideas into the organisation and how much success they can achieve through implementation of the conceived ideas. When measuring innovation, it is important to take account of all dynamics that are involved including processes and resources. 

One vital characteristic of a high-performance culture is its ability to consistently deliver incremental innovations to keep its services and products relevant. Innovation is not a one-time thing, but rather a step-by-step process. High performing companies consider innovation so important to their business that they allocate a considerable percentage of their time to its exploration. 

Culture doesn’t just help attract amazing people, it amplifies their abilities and helps them do their best work