Friday January 27, 2017
By guest blogger, Sarah O'Connell
Company culture is at the heart of competitive advantage; setting the tone for everything that happens within an organisation. It’s the ‘how we do things here’; defining how your people behave, your teams interact and help drive the business towards success.
The subtle difference between culture and high performing culture is that it inspires employees to not just live by the values, but to go above and beyond each and every day. Employees want to win – thinking like entrepreneurs, working as a team to better the organisation.
The businesses therefore combine values, personality and beliefs to create a firm bond with employees; leading to people taking initiative, setting goals and making considered decisions without being asked. Yet research suggests fewer than 10% of companies actually succeed in creating this type of environment.
In our opinion this is down to a lack of understanding. People need to be clear about the ‘why’ – what is the business trying to achieve and what role do they play in this. Then they need to understand the boundaries – which we call freedom in a framework – and offered support and guidance. Ultimately, employees must feel like their work is meaningful and rewarding.
Whilst creating a high performing culture cannot be achieved overnight and will require long-term commitment from the highest level of the organisation; there are a number of steps you can take now to boost productivity within your organisation:
1. Set clear expectations
It’s important that everyone within the organisation is working towards a common goal, and that this is clearly articulated, with expectations and standards being well-defined from the outset. Understanding the ‘freedom in a framework’ is vital in a high-performing culture – with employees thinking like owners and wanting to take action; just how far can they go?
From this, people should be encouraged to work with their managers to set their own stretching goals which will have a direct impact on the overarching mission. Businesses must ensure their people have the tools, skills and resources to perform, whilst supporting one another to improve – so review and invest where necessary.
Cultural change doesn’t happen unless leaders themselves model the behaviours and values that define the new culture. They are true role models for the shared mission and purpose, who will spread the word through constant personal contact and communication with others. They also need to bring employees on-board by working with them to develop a performance strategy which best utilises their specialist knowledge and ideas. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to winning over employees is a lack of trust; creating internal barriers which prohibit productivity. Leaders need to constantly strive to build trust and remove barriers to enable employees to develop – in order to increase overall organisational productivity. They should therefore focus on…
Clear, frequent and two-way communication not only ensures that everyone’s on the same page and knows where the company is headed, but also builds a culture of trust and openness. People need to feel that they are able to share their ideas and speak openly without fear of repercussion, and that their thoughts and work add value. It’s therefore important to reinforce how and why each person’s contribution is fundamental to the success of their teams and the organisation.
Creating a high performance culture must be done as simply as possible for maximum ‘stickability’, and organisations that are serious and dedicated to getting this right are more likely to be able to capitalise on opportunities in the future.