How to Achieve a High Performance Culture
A high performance culture is the goal of every organization, but not all achieve it. It takes planning and dedication. You need to understand exactly what it means to have a high performance culture and how to put those principles into practice.
It’s well worth the time to build a culture of high performance, as the consequences of not doing so can negatively impact your business. Low performers lower workplace morale and often cause high turnover rates. Over time, that can cause an organization to close its doors.
It is possible to create a process that supports a high-achieving culture. This article will start with defining a high performance culture. Next, we’ll dive into frameworks, characteristics, and high performance culture examples.\
What Is a High Performance Culture?
A high performance culture supports employees to be as effective as possible at their jobs. It results in the achievement of business goals and increased organizational value.
High performance is valued, supported and prioritized at all levels of the organization. HR departments are in a great position to act as leaders in this mission. Your HR department can create a work environment that is conducive to high achievement and growth.
What Are the Characteristics of a High Performance Culture?
You can support high performance by getting specific about what a high performing environment looks like.
In a high performance culture, characteristics like these are common:
- Unified mission and values
- Empowered employees
- Trust-based environment
- Growth mindset
- Streamlined work processes
Unified mission and values
Having a unified mission and sharing your values is a great way to attract and retain customers, but it’s also good for employees. Workers are 54% more likely to stay at a company for 5 years when they align with the company's mission. They are also 30% more likely to grow into high performers compared to those who are only at work for a paycheck.
Using cascading goals is one of the best ways to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your company’s mission and values. By starting with top-level goals, you can ensure every member of your team creates goals that align with your mission.
Encouraging high achievement starts with empower employees through supportive leadership, training, and development.
Leaders in a high performing environment act as mentors, guiding and supporting employees. Instead of acting as a critic who passes along information, they act as a partner in solving problems and achieving goals.
Training and development give workers opportunities to grow in their position. Employees develop new skills that launch them into higher positions.
Skill development pays off for workers in the form of increased lifetime earnings. This development also increases the company’s profitability. Companies that focus on people and performance are more likely to grow. In fact, many average more than $1 billion in profit.
Trusting and respectful environment
Not only do high performing organizations empower their employees, but they also trust and respect them.
By creating a safe atmosphere, you can ensure employees feel empowered to take risks. Employees won’t be afraid of making mistakes, and when they do, they’ll bounce back more quickly. Employees are more likely to engage in conflict resolution which results in change and learning. They may even feel comfortable enough to share even super risky ideas in the spirit of innovation.
It’s not just about the proper training and support so employees can do their job well. A high performance culture is always focused on growth. That means making sure their workers are learning new things that contribute to the growth of the company.
This is especially important in our fast-paced, technologically-driven society. Organizations with employees who are always growing are more likely to be resilient during a crisis.
Streamlined work processes
High performing cultures aren’t getting tripped up by apps and platforms that don’t serve them. They have created a streamlined work process with technology that supports the completion of daily tasks.
That includes streamlined internal communications. Employees know exactly where to go to send and receive messages for projects, performance, and other matters. There are boundaries around email, and all members of the organization stick to them.
What Are the Benefits of a High Performance Culture?
Creating a high performance culture is a lot of work. It’s not something you can create and then forget about either. It’s something that requires consistent effort, but it’s well worth it because it comes with benefits that include:
- Increased engagement and productivity
- Reduced turnover
- Increased innovation
- Better customer experience
Increased engagement and productivity
High performing workplaces are also engaged workplaces. Employees are respected and encouraged to grow. That has a real, measurable effect on performance.
According to Gallup, engaged employees increase overall productivity by an average of 14%. That figure goes up to 18% for sales. They also increase organizational profitability by 23%.
Turnover can cost your business a lot of time and money. It’s also a sign that employees aren’t happy with their job.
Although you can’t prevent turnover, you can drastically reduce it. One study showed that organizations with a rich company culture had a 13.9% turnover rate. Those with poor or low-performing cultures had a turnover rate of 48.4%.
The best companies are also the most innovative companies, but you can’t have innovation without risk. Not to mention, risk-taking is associated with increased perceptions of agency. It’s also associated with decreased perceptions of indecisiveness.
The trouble is, most people prefer to play it safe. Creating a high performance culture encourages employees to step outside their comfort zone. They’ll try new things and come up with innovative ideas that put you ahead of your competitors.
Better customer experience
It's also true that employee well-being positively impacts performance. There is a strong statistical link between employee well-being and customer satisfaction.
When you create a high performing environment, employees feel supported. They feel like they can contribute in meaningful ways, and are equipped to deal with any situation.
Five Steps to Build a High Performance Culture
A high performance culture isn’t something that just happens, but that doesn’t mean the process has to be overly complex. There are steps you can follow to build a culture that encourages employees to strive for excellence.
Building a high performance culture framework includes:
- Set company values
- Develop company goals
- Commit to performance management
- Clear communication
- Encourage innovation
- Reward stellar performance
- Don’t abandon struggling employees
Set company values
Setting your company’s values is the first step to creating a culture of high performing employees. Even if you already have a mission statement and values, you should revisit them. Having a meaningless list of values that sound good on paper, but no one follows, is just as bad as not having any at all.
Brainstorm a list of values and get together with others in your organization to distill the core elements into a values statement. Give employees at every level of the organization the opportunity to provide their input and they will be more likely to live by those values in the workplace.
Develop company goals
Company goals can include both short-term and long-term goals that involve things like the growth of the company, increased profits, scaling, and anything else your company is working towards.
Just make sure that your values are top-of-mind when you’re developing these goals. That way, they align with your ultimate mission.
Commit to performance management
The only way to reach your company’s goals is to make sure they are properly aligned with employee goals. That means making sure you have a performance management system in place.
A comprehensive performance management platform gives you the ability to create a system of reviews that works for your company. You can set cascading goals that piggyback off of team goals and department goals that are aligned with the organization's overall goal.
Having a performance management system in place also enables you to work more closely with employees on their personal goals. From tackling personal development opportunities to providing their input on changes that will make the next project go more smoothly, a performance management system allows employees to feel like they’re in control of their careers.
It’s easy for things to fall through the cracks at work. Whether it’s a lost message or a misunderstanding, unclear communication can negatively impact productivity.
Take the time to set up a clear system of communication. Workers should know exactly where to go to retrieve certain messages, and they shouldn’t have to waste time checking multiple platforms multiple times a day.
You should also look into ways to store important information. For example, performance goals and communications should be stored in one place so that they can all be accessed easily in the future.
To be an innovative organization, you have to encourage innovation. That means giving your employees the freedom to make mistakes. Welcome new ideas, no matter how offbeat, without judgment.
Innovation comes more easily in a cooperative environment as well. Reduce interpersonal incentives and activities that encourage competition. While you're at it, remove all the red tape, and don't make employees jump through hoops. Empower them to make decisions and take action on their own and you’ll see your employees come up with some unique ideas.
Reward stellar performance
Recognizing your employees for a job well done is important because 80% of employees say they would work harder if they felt better appreciated. Not to mention, 92% of employees are likely to repeat a specific action if they are recognized for it.
Come up with a system to reward stellar performance, whether it includes a raise, a bonus, extra time off, or even a thank you card. Make sure it’s something that every employee has the potential to earn—and not just the top few performers—to reduce competition and foster an environment of continued excellence.
Don’t abandon struggling employees
Most employees don’t actively try to do a poor job. There’s a reason why they are underperforming. Supporting your struggling employees will decrease turnover and increase employee happiness.
For example, underperformers may not feel like they have a strategy in place to reach their goals, they could be in the wrong role, or they could feel unsupported by their manager. With a strong performance management system in place, you can create a system of check-ins that opens up a continuous dialog between employees, managers, and HR to better support everyone.
People + Performance: How Investing in People Creates a High Performance Culture
If you want to propel your company into a high performance culture, you have to pair high expectations for performance with people-centered processes that prioritize human capital.
When you emphasize skill development, you enable your employees to boost their lifetime earnings, but it also contributes to greater organizational success. With new skills, employees provide the company with greater resilience during a crisis, in addition to contributing to attrition rates that are five percentage points lower than others.
Achievement also comes through bottom-up innovation. Employees are empowered to contribute to the organization in meaningful ways through management practices, systems, and a high performance culture.
In contrast, organizations that solely focus on performance may have outstanding performers, but ideas and knowledge are distilled in a transactional, top-down way that leaves all innovation and control in the hands of management. A true high performance culture encourages high performance from everyone, which means innovation and control comes from the bottom too.
How to Use Engagement Tools to Build a High Performance Culture
A bottom-up approach to achieving a high performance culture can’t be achieved without direct input from employees.
That’s where an employee engagement tool comes in.
Using surveys and tracking responses enables you to understand your employees' needs, monitor employee sentiments over time and across different cohorts, and identify specific issues so you can make improvements.
It also enables you to see what’s working well so you can do more of it. Not to mention, it gives employees the ability to feel like valued members of the team.