Robert Sutton, a Stanford Professor, has suggested that at times like now the keys to a high performing culture are
1. Predictability – give people as much information as possible about what is happening and likely to happen.
2. Understanding – accompany any change with an explanation of why it’s happening and the impact on current routines.
3. Control – break down challenges into components to avoid overwhelming people.
4. Compassion – do not ignore the emotional needs of your people.
These reminders and the following tips by Associate Consultant, Paul Tyquin will help create a high performing culture.
- Strong Leadership. Set a vision for the organisation with clear and measurable goals. In demanding a high performance culture the leader needs to lead from the front and link their own performance success to the success of everyone in the organisation. This will be even more important in moving your organisation forward through or after this pandemic.
- Define what ‘high performance’ means. Establishing a culture of high performance relies on your ability to define what ‘high performance’ means within your organisation. It must be clear, realistic and achievable (but not too achievable or it would not be high performance). People need to know what success looks like in your organisation. Equally people need to know and understand what failure looks like. Failure is not simply the opposite of success.
- Continuous improvement. The bar should always move upwards. Remaining static will ultimately result in an organisation’s demise. A high performance culture means that individuals, departments and teams within organisations are always striving for new ways to improve their performance. Continuous improvement should be a consequence of a strong performance culture and not necessarily an objective by itself.
- Establish a reward and consequence culture. All people are incentivised by reward. The reward will need to vary depending on the environment, the people and the culture of the organisation. Get this right and people will strive for excellence. There also needs to be a consequence for poor performance. If there is no consequence, there is no incentive for people to push themselves.
- Openness and willingness to change. The current happenings in the world might be enough in themselves to drive a sense of urgency in all people within organisations to be open and willing to adapt to a changing environment. If it is not enough, then the leader needs to step in to create a sense that inertia in a highly volatile and evolving marketplace is no longer acceptable.
- Build empowered and engaged teams. Ensure that you establish empowered and engaged teams who understand their purpose and objectives, how they fit within the organisation and who contribute to the organisation’s overall goals.
- Surround yourself with positive people. In more uncertain times you need to constantly be ‘upbeat’. Avoid whingers and complainers. Look for people who will energise you. Remember it’s not the people you remove from the organisation who make your life miserable; it can be the ones who remain.