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How to Build a High-Performance Culture

How to Build a High-Performance Culture

As organisations cast a weary eye towards the future, some will be forced to effectively reinvent their operations. However, before making changes to products, services and structure, it might be helpful to start with the workplace culture – that is, the sometimes hard-to-define building blocks that explain “the way things are done around here”.

Some business leaders may take the opportunity to strive towards the creation of a high-performing culture – the kind where everyone works towards well-defined goals, where discretionary effort (going above and beyond) happens as a matter of course, and where performance appraisals – or anything performance-related – is not deemed a chore. What sets those organisations apart? There are several key components outlined below. The good news is, all of them can be replicated.

  1. They invest in employee development – and protect that investment with constant refinement of engagement efforts

High-performing companies value the growth of individuals. Gallup[1] research indicates that organisations that have made a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. Two additional Gallup statistics seal the deal. Nearly 9 in 10 millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job. Finally, ‘career growth opportunities’ is the number one reason people give for changing jobs. So, high-performing companies are willing to invest in people, despite knowing that high performers will always be in demand from other employers, and many will indeed seek opportunities elsewhere.

However, high-performing companies have one further ace up their sleeve – they view engagement as a constant work in progress and invest constantly in engagement initiatives. Doing so helps to build the “psychological bond” between employee and employer. In addition, they invest in meeting the basic needs of employees – for example, clear expectations, sincere recognition, the right level of communication and the tools required to do the job effectively.

  1. They’ve broken the connection between development always equating to promotion

When most people think about a promotion, they associate it with professional development. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. While effective development may involve a promotion, it doesn’t have to. Excellent employees may not always desire promotion, especially if it entails taking on new management responsibilities, but they still seek growth. High-performing organisations take the time to understand each employee’s unique talents, and will then help them to find roles, positions and projects that allow them to combine their talents and abilities with experiences to build their strengths.

Research[2] indicates that when employees know and use their strengths, they are nearly 6 times more engaged, have higher performance, and are less likely to leave the company.

  1. Their managers act as coaches, not bosses – and will take an active role in development opportunities

Without intuitive managers, culture change and employee engagement is unlikely to occur. Managers play an equally important role in employee development, simply because they are typically closer to employees than HR, and are more aware of the challenges they face. It is logical that managers will therefore have a better sense of how to develop their team members. And since professional growth is more likely to occur when feedback is immediate and targeted, managers are the perfect people to coach employees and link them to practical, “on the job” learning.

  1. They obtain support from the front

Culture change is notoriously tricky and it doesn’t just happen by accident. Critically, it shouldn’t only be left up to HR; it should be the entire leadership team who owns culture change. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” is true in this case too. The actions of a leadership team – which shows a commitment to high performance workplace practices – will result in culture change. Why? Because when C-suite leaders model a focus on professional development and put resources towards it, managers and employees will start to mimic that focus on their own. Changing behaviours is the key to making culture change sustainable.

Why we need a winning culture

As the world starts to move to “recovery” mode following the trauma of COVID-19, it’s important to remember why corporate culture is so important. Firstly, and most obviously, it’s unique to every organisation – it could be your organisation’s unique fingerprint. Secondly, it can help you attract world-class talent. Thirdly, it can help create alignment so that everyone is working towards the same goals and objectives. And finally, culture affects performance – and that in itself is enough to warrant an investment of time, money and resources to get it right.

ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll can help business leaders manage their workforce, even while operating remotely. As a cloud-based solution, ELMO helps employers manage their teams from anywhere at any time from a secure, centralised database. All employee-employer touchpoints are covered by ELMO’s suite, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, payroll, rostering / time & attendance, learning & development, and more. For further information, contact us.

[1]What Companies are Getting Wrong About Employee Development” by Gallup

[2] “What is Employee Engagement and how do you Improve it?” by Gallup