Driving a strong business starts with the people who work for your business and those people align on the business through the company culture. How are you shaping yours?
A high performing culture is one where people drive performance because of the right behaviors. They’ve embedded these behaviors in their everyday life. People in high performing cultures require less supervision. They’re empowered to achieve goals that are consistent with the organization’s direction.
As a leader, you need to understand how to build a high performing culture and your responsibilities for making it happen. I found that there are six components to building a high performing culture.
First, you have to define the culture. What is a high performance? What are the desired behaviors? How will you know when you’ve achieved a high performing culture?
Second, set direction. What’s the vision for the organization? What’s the organization’s purpose? You have to be able to articulate this to the team. Third is communicating the culture. What are the communication vehicles and techniques you’re going to use to reinforce culture ever day?
You’ll have to organize your team to support the culture. How will you build your teams? What processes are you going to create for recruiting and talent development? You’ll have to manage performance. What are the goals of the organization? How are you going to measure people’s performance? How do you create the right behavioral incentives?
Last you’re going to have to live the culture every day. How are you going to capture culture moments and provide feedback to people to reinforce desired behaviors and to get rid of behaviors that are counter to the culture you’re trying to build? As a leader, creating this high performing culture is something that you can achieve. You just have to make sure that you take the right steps to get your organization there.
Creating the virtuous circle
Leaders who create a strong culture of outstanding performance will find that performance strengthens their culture. By strengthening the culture, the likelihood of better results and performance increases. This is known as a virtuous circle. You need to be careful though, the dynamic works in the opposite direction as well. Bad behavior begets bad performance, which leads to more bad behavior, and ultimately a bad culture.
I know one senior executive who always used to ask people, “How much money have you made me today?” That simple question flowed through all the behaviors in the organization. Everyone focused on financials, but it was at the expense of creating a great culture. Let me share an example of how to build a virtuous circle.
I worked with one executive who sat the team down and they created team operating principles. These principles dictated how they would work with each other, their standards of behavior, and how they were going to treat their customers. They went through their goal deployment process, and built their balance scorecard.
People knew what was expected of them, both in terms of behavior and performance. And that was tied into their goals that they set for the team. As they hit their numbers and drove results, people embodied those principles and strengthened the culture. They stepped up into bigger roles and hit bigger goals. That led to more success, which in turn, drove better embodiment of the operating principles and the culture they had created. Everyone grew and the team succeeded.
As a leader, know what behaviors you want, how they link to results, and how to take advantage of the positive virtuous circles you can build. When you see bad behavior and performance headed in the wrong direction step in immediately before it spirals out of control. It’s up to you to determine which direction these circles are going to spin.
Want to learn more about creating high performing culture? How about taking an entire course on it? Check out the video below to learn more about the course and get started. Or you can go directly to the course and start learning how to assess and improve your strategic plans. The entire course is available at LinkedIn Learning. Enjoy!
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