Corporate Culture
Performance Management
Top 10+ key elements in creating a high performance culture

High performance culture are not dependent on one simple factor or as a result of one or two things. The entire context you operate in greatly impacts your results. This context includes the culture of the company – how things get done, how decisions get made, what works and does not work as far as behaviors and what gets rewarded and how.

The key to building a high-performing culture is to make sure you consider “‘what and “how you will get to your destination points – the clear definitions of where you are going in a specific time-frame.

The specifics of a high performance culture are unique to your company because they are based on what will work best for you to get you to where you want to go within the parameters you have defined. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to culture.

Creating a high performance culture

Creating a high performance culture

However, here are 10 key elements in creating a high performance culture that probably will fit most organizations:

# 1 – Clearly define what winning looks like

Look across the entire organization and define what it looks like from a variety of perspectives – sales, marketing, customer service, procurement, finance etc.

#2 – Spell out your “preferred culture”

In the same way that leaders shape and communicate a vision, they also spell out a picture of the culture they are striving for.

This can often be just a set of guiding principles or values, but the best seem to go further by establishing preferred behaviors that support these values: Which aspects of our current culture are we happy/unhappy with? What preferred behaviors do we need to create the culture we want? What behaviors actually get rewarded round here? Which unacceptable behaviors are actually tolerated here?  How do we measure up against each of our preferred behaviors?

#3 – Set stretch targets

Employees tend to rise to the standard set for them. The more you expect, the more they will achieve. But there is a fine line between good stretch targets, which can energize an organization, and bad ones, which can dampen morale

#4 – Connect to the big picture

The majority of employees want to be a part of a compelling future, want to know what is most important at work and what excellence looks like. For targets to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged. No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy

#5 – Develop an ownership mentality

When individuals understand the boundaries in which they can operate, as well as where the company wants to go, they feel empowered with a freedom to decide and act, and most often make the right choices. They begin to think and act like an “owner”

#6 – Improving performance through transparency

By sharing numbers with employees, you can increase employees’ sense of ownership. However, being open is not enough. You need to be sure your employees are trained to understand financial statements and have enough insight into their own jobs to know how to affect the numbers. Focus on additional metrics besides the financial ones. Employees who are not in the financial world will be able to relate better to the results and will feel more included in the process

#7 – Increase performance through employee engagement

Employees who are engaged put their heart and soul into their job and have the energy and excitement to give more than is required of the job. Engaged employees are committed and loyal to the organization

#8 – Storytelling

Storytelling can be a powerful tool when you want to drive organizational change and performance improvement. The leaders must be able use stories to motivate their employees to achieve more than they thought possible

#9 – Internal communication

Internal communication need to be on the top of the agenda – Have they heard the message? Do they believe it? Do they know what it means? Have they interpreted it for themselves, and have they internalized it?

#10 – Taking the time to celebrate

Do remember to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. Taking the time to celebrate is important because it acknowledges people’s hard work, boosts morale and keeps up the momentum. If you want something to grow, pour champagne on it

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

High-performance organizations do not take their culture for granted. They plan it, monitor it and manage it so that it remains aligned with they want to achieve. Do remember the famous words of Peter Drucker: Culture eats strategy for breakfast

This post as infographic:

How to create a high performance organization

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Top 10+ key elements in creating a high performance culture — http://www.torbenrick.eu/t/r/gwe

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Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland View full profile

6 Comments
Oscar Ayala

April 18, 2011 7:37 pm

Very good comment, Rick
I have a few comments on these ideas.
First, on point 3, “Set stretch targets” you state that “employees tend to rise to the standard set for them. The more you expect, the more they will achieve”. Unfortunatelly, that is not the case if the Company does not have a strong set of tools to drive high performance across the employee pòpulation. Many leaders thing that this is simple or “automatic”, but actually is very complex, full of elements of different nature. In addition, younger generations are less committed on their company responsibilities if they do not perceive a very strong commitment in their companies to support their advancement. You mention this on your point 7, but actually it implies a very demanding agenda. Why is that so? I think few leaders realize that generalizations are very dangerous and they understand the real need to understand different perspectives and point of views, because actually, several of them may coexist and they are valid. I’ll be glad to ellaborate for those interested.
Cheers, great exchange here !!!

Jon Martin

April 20, 2011 7:31 pm

Torben,

Is your list written in the order of importance, or are you just saying that these are 10 points to have when re-engineering a new culture?

Theresa Wang

July 19, 2011 6:08 pm

Those are very useful summary for building high performance-oriented management culture in company. And I also would like to discuss more possibilities on one point that mentioned by Oscar Ayala,by having an operational/systematical measurement tool to enable the leadership duties and enabling the stretch target management, my focus thinking would lying in, this is not simple individual leaders work or a group visioning and competent leader’s duty, but which is a common recognition and action commitment made from leadership team in certain market or global HQ based on business strategic goal and clear analysis for current organization/advantage and capacity.

Moreover, to achieve and operate it in a effective way, it even becoming more tricky, because a lot of issues needs to be address such as: who own the stretch target management role in terms of top leadership management team,(CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO/CIO,etc )which must be set up aiming on driving incremental and additional value contribution to business/P&L target and operation effectiveness, (ps: if operating feasibility and capability all allowed, who will/should dedicate to the reach of implementation and continuous supporting/monitoring on it in a period of time? this can be seemed as more vital point to realize already aligned management visioning there.)

Theresa Wang

July 19, 2011 6:20 pm

Torben, I do think those are very useful summary for building high performance-oriented management culture in company. And I also would like to discuss more possibilities on one point that mentioned by Oscar Ayala,by having an operational/systematical measurement tool to enable the leadership duties and enabling the stretch target management, my focus thinking would lying in, this is not simple individual leaders work or a group visioning and competent leader’s duty, but which is a common recognition and action commitment made from leadership team in certain market or global HQ based on business strategic goal and clear analysis for current organization/advantage and capacity.

Moreover, to achieve and operate it in a effective way, it even becoming more tricky, because a lot of issues needs to be address such as: who own the stretch target management role in terms of top leadership management team,(CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO/CIO,etc )which must be set up aiming on driving incremental and additional value contribution to business/P&L target and operation effectiveness, (ps: if operating feasibility and capability all allowed, who will/should dedicate to the reach of implementation and continuous supporting/monitoring on it in certain period of time? this can be seemed as more vital point to realize already aligned management visioning there.) What’s your opinion about it?

Richard House

January 3, 2012 8:56 pm

“High Performance Culture” passes the consultancy buzz phrase test: it would be a brave person to argue for the opposite (a “Low Performance Culture”?) so it is an easy sell. But actually, what is it? Interestingly the word “Customer” only appears in one of the 10 points, so I guess it doesn’t impact too much on the people who keep you in business.

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