How to Build a Performance-Driven CultureMay 27, 2021
There are two main connections involved in a company’s culture.
Human to Company → Purpose-driven culture
Human to Human → Performance-driven culture
Both of these cultures coexist, support each other and are critical for overall business success. As Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. That’s because when broken down, the requirement to successfully execute a strategy is to make sure the people doing it are operating at their peak performance.
How to build a performance driven culture?
The very first step in building a performance driven culture is to focus on creating a foundation of connection. It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. Yet, it is often one of the most neglected and incorrectly done aspects of culture. However, the truth is, company’s typically have great intentions which are really just executed incorrectly- making this an easy and impactful fix.
Why is that?
There are 3 CRITICAL aspects to creating human-human connection in a company environment. Those are SAFETY, BELONGING, TRUST.
To make this really simple, let’s look at a non-workplace example. Out in the ‘real world’, who do you feel most comfortable around? Who do you feel most comfortable talking about intimate details of your life with? Is it the stranger at the corner store or is it your group of friends and family? My guess is it’s friends and family with whom you have an established connection. A connection in which you feel safe, belonged and trusting. The same applies to people in the workplace.
In fact, this is so important that Google has even attributed psychological safety as the NUMBER ONE success factor for their highest performing teams.
This comes as no surprise when looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs which indicates the degree of importance that these factors play; with psychological safety first and belonging second. The reason for this is because when those two basic conditions are not met, the majority of our attention is triggered into a state of stress at a subconscious level and narrowly focuses our brain on meeting those two needs.
Because this all happens at a subconscious level it means that the way it will reveal itself is through disruptive surface level symptoms. Making it particularly difficult to address the root cause of whatever issue is showing itself. That’s why this is so important to intentionally address as a company leader.
Whereas psychological safety and belonging are the precursor condition for establishing connection, building trust is how you strengthen and fortify it.
It's importance is obvious when looking at other key indicators for high-performing teams. Rather than being fearful about how you might look asking a certain question, admitting a mistake or exposing your work to the critique of others, an employee who feels trusting in their connections with their leaders and team will be more willing to:
- Take risks
- Admit mistakes and ask for help
- Ask questions and seek clarity
- Expose their work to the critique of others based on the assumption that it for their betterment and the betterment of the company
- Pursue out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions
All key factors for high-performing teams.
Now that we have covered the basics of the leadership-employee connection, let’s take a look at 3 additional techniques to leverage and to reinforce a performance-driven culture. This comes down to an understanding of what drives performance and how to operationalize and reinforce it.
Showing appreciation sends a message of acknowledgement to employees, and makes them feel valued, belonged and most importantly recognized as a person. The positive impact of which touches all things from an employee's commitment to the role, their relationship with their leader and their happiness in the company.
Appreciation should be shown on a weekly basis, not just at the end of the long quarter or during performance reviews. It’s important to include it as much as possible, both in 1-1s and openly with the team.
Here are several things you can show appreciation for:
- An employee's efforts that day/week
- A small win: presentation, overcoming an obstacle, one step closer to closing a deal etc...
- Progress made
- Catching a mistake
- Representing the company’s core values
Showing appreciation is one of the least expensive and most impactful ways of boosting performance, retention and engagement.
Show Employee Impact
Equally as important to making employees feel like an appreciated and valued member of the team, is providing them with visibility as to how they contribute towards the company’s purpose. In turn, this provides employees with an increased sense of fulfillment and likewise has a positive impact on their commitment to the role and company.
Take the time to make sure employees are clear about how their work impacts both the company and the end client. Even if they are not interacting directly with the client, it’s important for each individual employee to know that they are an important part of the collective and to understand how their work impacts others.
Two tips to get started with are:
- Take time in your 1-1s with each employee to really ensure their understanding.
- Leave space at the end of each meeting to make sure that all team members are clear of their role and how their work positively impacts the team's overall effort.
From a leadership perspective there are two critical components in creating a culture of feedback.
- First is understanding how to make employees receptive to receiving feedback.
- Second is establishing a feedback cadence. Both informal and formal.
A successful culture of feedback supports employee growth and development, betters company management's ability to lead and gives employees a voice.
Workshops are a great way to bring your leadership team with the ability to operationalize a performance-driven culture that sets both leadership and employees up for success.
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