Organisational culture encompasses everything from a company’s values and beliefs, leadership styles and operational policies and how these elements work in concert to impact and empower employees. A high-performance culture enables an organization to achieve excellent results and a high level of growth. Expressing company culture through effective people processes and creating a work environment that is conducive to growth will ensure that departments throughout the organization consistently achieve and even exceed their targets. A high-performance culture prioritises employee growth and development, focuses on employee engagement which improves retention rates and creates room for employees to innovate and try new things which improves organisational agility. This article aims to elucidate the factors that are critical to building the right culture.
Cascading the ‘Big Picture’ to Employees
Eloquent vision and mission statements are drafted by the top executives in a company and beautiful plaques engraved with these statements are carefully arranged on the walls. Unfortunately, many organisations neglect to communicate the ‘big picture’ to their employees in an engaging manner. One key for unlocking human potential is to define the purpose of your organization and connect the people to this purpose. Employee engagement is boosted when people feel a sense of purpose in their tasks and understand the integral roles they play in the overall success of the business. Inculcating a mindset that is focused on performance and growth is achieved when employees feel that they are valued and that they are actively engaged in building something they believe in. Involve your employees in developing the organization’s purpose through company culture surveys, town-hall meetings, and through constant and consistent communication practices and encourage continuous dialogue.
Employees that are aligned to company values can promote an enthusiastic work culture. Focus on exploring what your company values really mean and how they are embedded in your practices. Encourage debates on the philosophy of your values and allow your employees to devise strategies to help the organization actively live the values you have defined so they embrace and resonate with them.
Establish a ‘Caring Ethos’
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged during the last two years and people went through extremely difficult times, mental health awareness programs and supportive work environments came into sharper focus. Employers that embraced an ethos of caring that demonstrated care and respect for their employees fared better than others during the ‘Great Reshuffle’, where thousands of employees left their jobs in search of greener pastures. An environment where employees feel valued will breed a high-performance culture where employees will actually go the extra mile to ensure their company succeeds. A sense of identity, a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging are three fundamental human needs. An organization that can provide these elements for their employees will boost their performance dramatically.
Building a culture of trust can enhance cooperative behaviour amongst colleagues and reduce social friction. High-trust teams become high-performance teams if they feel secure in their organization and company processes are transparent and ethical. Organisational trust is a social lubricant that can boost employee satisfaction and productivity. Strive to build a culture of trust where people can feel at ease coming to work. Foster a sense of community and a sense of belonging.
Goals should be set that resonate with the changes in the business environment to ensure they are still relevant to the situation on the ground. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. Ensure that employees have all the resources they require to achieve these goals and that the goals set are realistic. It is better to focus on a few key goals then dilute the focus of your staff. If employees are spread too thin then the quality of their output will suffer.
Organisational goals must be linked to individual goals so that they are aligned. Clearly defined expectations at the individual, team, departmental and company level will ensure the company moves in the right direction and that employees have clarity. Linking goals with the ‘big picture’ will also motivate employees and help them understand the broader purpose of the tasks they are working on.
Once employees understand what is expected of them, having an established system to measure performance is critical. Accountability is important. Performance measurement systems and regular meetings between supervisors and their direct deports will help drive performance. A feedback culture will help employees to grow and develop. The system should seek to build the confidence and capability of employees rather than just criticise them for perceived inadequacies.
Recognize and reward good performance. When employees feel their output is valued and recognized, it encourages them to deliver more value. Appreciation and gratitude are underrated in most companies. High-performance teams look forward to delivering outstanding results because they know they are valued.
Draft an ‘Innovation Policy’
Innovation, creativity and experimentation are all elements of a high-performance culture. To create an environment where employees are encouraged to experiment without fear of judgement or penalties will foster innovation. Tech companies such as Google were inspired to use ‘Innovation policies’ to encourage employees to work on their own interesting projects. Google maps and Google News are children of that inspiration. Online forums and clubs can be created to encourage these initiatives.
Become a Data-Driven Organization and Embrace Technology
Data is a business asset that cuts across organisational boundaries and flows through an organization. Harnessing the power of data can help a company improve its processes and minimise inefficiencies, gain insights into market trends, track the progress of goals and objectives and improve resource allocation and deployment. Embracing technology and having the right systems in place will facilitate the process of collecting and managing data.
Promote Organisational Learning Processes
Learning and development plans for all employees will help them stay engaged with the company. They also benefit the company when employees put their new skills to use to build the organization. An organization that is committed to continuous learning for all its employees creates a culture of growth and continuous improvement.
Good leaders know their strategy must go through their culture to be successfully achieved. Does your culture help or hinder your goals? Create a culture that is healthy, high performing and people-centric. Be intentional about how you shape your cultural norms. Build trust in your employees and motivate them the right way and you will reap the rewards that will be inevitable as your culture shifts to a high-performance culture.
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Article by Shailja Sharma, Executive Fellow and Coach