In our business we have the pleasure of working with some very successful organisations and each has a culture that oozes high performance when you walk in their offices. You can see clues in the way people interact; looking at each other in the eyes, greeting people with their names, and well organised work spaces with personal touches. I am sure there are many factors that contribute to a performance culture but here are three factors that have been mentioned most often in my conversations.
1. Follow up and follow through. Sounds simple enough but one of the biggest killers of a performance culture is lack of follow up with other people. When leaders do not follow up it show a lack of care. As a leader people know you are busy but that does not forgive your lack of follow up. The lack of follow through is just as damaging. When a leader commits to something and it gets dropped or fades away the damage is serious. You lose trust when you do not follow through. Both lack of follow up and follow through are like a disease, when leaders exhibit these behaviours it creeps into an entire culture. Performance appraisals are one critical area that must never compromised by lack of follow up and follow through.
2. Person to person engagement. Managers need to meet with their teams as individuals and groups regularly. It is priority one and it needs to be scheduled and committed to. If a leader consistently cancels these meetings it sends the signal, ‘you are not important.’ A performance culture has a meeting rhythm and this flows to information sharing, communication, collaboration and often innovation. Some managers and leaders do not really know how to run effective meetings and these people need some coaching. In one client the change identified as being the biggest contributor to their culture is daily team meetings with a set agenda.
3. Learning is readily available and encouraged. Learning can be in many forms and it need not be expensive. For example, one client has brown bag learning sessions that are facilitated by fellow employees. Online learning is great and you can use your own content as well as find online courseware that can be delivered from your own LMS or via an online portal. Blended learning in a manager to employee coaching framework is one program that one of our clients has used to increase productivity and align activity with strategy more effectively. This program involves short online learning content, forms for applying learning and fortnightly coaching sessions with a direct or other manager.
These 3 factors were the top three mentioned in discussions with some of our clients. I am interested in learning about others that have been applied to create and sustain a performance culture.