High-performance culture

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After leaving a client meeting the other day, I reflected on a manager’s comment about not understanding the value behind tightening up their management processes, improving communications and making performance visible (both good and bad).

In short, this was an individual who lacked the understanding, the desire and the commitment to make the changes necessary to drive performance within their department and throughout the organization.

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The answer to this person’s question – What’s the value? – is simply to create a culture of high performance. This implies using the reporting tools and processes that enable meaningful dialog to occur about the things that drive performance. When a simple but effective management system is implemented and consistently used, it will support the achievement of the following:

  1. Top line revenue growth.
  2. Employee engagement and retention.
  3. Earnings growth.

In a nutshell, when an effective management system is part of your corporate DNA (meaning it’s what your corporate team does all the time), this will create a culture of performance that will ultimately lead to profitable growth. Performance management is about creating a management system that enables continuous evaluation, which ensures continuous learning, which leads to continuous improvement, which supports the achievement of continuous acceleration (profitable growth).

Does this work in every situation? In other words, when we tighten up the management processes in any company, will they achieve acceleration?

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The answer is yes in the vast majority of companies, but there are variables in every organization that are very clear predictors of success.

The main predictor of success is commitment and discipline (among the leadership team). Let’s see how your leadership team performs. Rate your leadership team A, B, C, D, F based on the following criteria:

  1. Discipline is evident in the way the chief operating officer and the leadership team operates, communicates and manages time, priorities and the company.
  2. Based on demonstrated behavior, the COO and the leadership team is committed to continuous improvement throughout the entire organization.
  3. Based on demonstrated behavior, the COO and the leadership team are effective at creating a culture that evaluates performance consistently and correctly.
  4. Based on demonstrated behavior, the COO and the leadership team follow through and execute on their commitments.
  5. Based on demonstrated behavior, the COO and the leadership team have created an environment that is safe and open (culture and communication).

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Predictors of success

As you can see and probably already know, the variables are usually people (leaders), and their desire/ability to adapt and stay focused on the implementation and use of some fairly basic management processes/tools that support the achievement of accelerating profitable growth. Leaders must also have the ability to speak honestly and candidly (management courage) about the issues impacting performance. Good management processes/tools will make this easier.

Creating a culture of high performance is closer than you think. It becomes more challenging, however, when you’re part of a family business. The challenge in most family businesses is that if a family member is underperforming, they know they are usually a protected class of employee. Often times they are protected from tough conversations, changes in responsibilities, and/or protected from dismissal if performance continues at subpar levels.

But even in the family business, the goal is to create a management system where it’s part of the corporate DNA to evaluate, learn, improve and grow. Once this is part of the corporate DNA, people tend to understand the importance for continuous evaluation and performance related discussions.

In fact, this is what happens in every consistently high performing company.

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