Cultivating the Elements of a Performance-Driven Culture

December 13, 2017

Performance-driven culture

Results! We all strive for them, yet we often fall short of our own and others’ expectations when striving to create a performance-driven, results-oriented culture.

Are our expectations too high? Have the expected outcomes been clearly articulated? Are they achievable given the talent we have—do we have the right people in the right positions?

These are questions that leaders continue to grapple with in an increasingly complex business environment. It’s likely time to step back and look at what your people are achieving. If they are underperforming, can you diagnose why?

How organizational alignment (or a lack thereof) affects performance

Research shows that among organizations that consistently meet or exceed desired performance, one of the common themes is an alignment between business objectives, functional roles, and the people in those roles. This alignment sounds simple enough, but it is not in place at many organizations.

Senior leaders come and go, and with them organizational strategies and priorities. Yet job descriptions at lower levels of the organization and the people in those jobs don’t always change with the strategy.

Building blocks of a performance-driven culture

If we use the common definitions of culture as “the way we do things here” or “the personality of an organization,” then how is it that certain organizations “do things” that yield exponentially higher results than others? What actions can you take to create a performance-driven culture?

A behavioral concept that has been growing in popularity and acceptance is “flow.” As reported in an article, this results when employees are “doing work that is highly satisfying and intrinsically motivating.”

An increasing number of companies are using this organizational approach to establish an authentically performance-driven culture. And while talent development and performance management systems are certainly part of the solution, they’re only a framework for setting objectives, documenting performance standards, and assessing employee output. Additional building blocks of a performance-driven culture go far beyond those.

It is an organization’s holistic approach that leads to outstanding results. This approach includes:

  • Employees who are fully engaged and have a clear understanding of the goals, objectives, and expected outcomes
  • A valued, diverse and inclusive workforce and environment
  • Rewards and recognition systems that are transparent

These items are just a few of the commonly accepted foundational elements of a healthy organization, one that produces a performance-driven culture.

Measuring a performance-driven corporate culture

Once the building blocks above are established, your ultimate test is whether your organization measures its culture, and if so, how. Before you say that culture metrics are “impossible,” take heart. In an article for Entrepreneur magazine, Greg Bresner presents research showing that the following 10 qualities make up a strong culture and are shared by high-performance companies:

  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Agility
  • Wellness
  • Environment
  • Collaboration
  • Support
  • Performance focus
  • Responsibility
  • Mission and value alignment

Use this list to create a roadmap for infusing positive behaviors, attitudes, and attributes into your organization. Plant the seeds and tend to them over time, and you’ll see your organization’s culture transform.

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About The Author

Nicole Morgenstern is a learning solutions and alliance manager at American Management Association. Prior to joining AMA, she spent several years in international development and education with the Institute of International Education, International Organization for Migration, and Department of State.

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