Workhuman Editorial Team
5 min read
As the business landscape becomes increasingly complex and dynamic, the traditional ways of defining and designating responsibilities in the workplace are gradually becoming ineffective and irrelevant.
Companies that strive to cultivate a high performance culture possess a competitive advantage by empowering employees to take ownership of their performance and fully commit themselves to pursuing business goals and initiatives.
In this guide, we’ll find out what it takes to develop and sustain a high-performing workforce, as well as the many benefits that come along with it. We’ll also discuss several strategies and examples of exceptional workplace cultures.
An organization’s culture is the sum of its core values, business goals, and collective practices that shape the working environment. Think of it as your company’s unique personality, which influences employee engagement and provides them with a standard for workplace behavior.
So, what defines a high-performance culture? Building a high-performance culture begins with establishing empowering beliefs and behaviors that fuel your company’s growth and development.
According to Gartner, it is a physical or virtual environment developed to make employees as effective as possible in providing value.
This type of workplace culture encompasses more than just having employees ace their annual performance reviews. It’s also about creating an environment of trust and accountability where employees are appreciated and encouraged to thrive alongside your company.
Discover how Social Recognition® and the rest of the Workhuman Platform can transform your organization’s culture into one with gratitude at the center.
A high-performance workplace can look different when cultivated in companies of varying sizes, industries, work structures, and leadership styles. Nevertheless, organizations with impactful cultures and highly motivated employees tend to have the following common characteristics:
According to McKinsey, achieving real alignment gives your company a major advantage because managers and employees will have a clearer sense of what to do and when to do it.
Everyone from your entry-level staff to the executive team should be on the same page about the company’s goals, strategies to accomplish those goals, and metrics that measure success.
For your organization to achieve accelerated and enduring cultural change, leaders must be focused and committed to high-performance workplace practices that catalyze employees to reach their full potential.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the relationship between employee engagement and company performance. This key component is also positively linked with company productivity, profitability, and market share.
Your employees feel trusted and motivated when they’re involved in problem-solving and company decision-making, so they’re more inclined to accept responsibility and perform well.
High-performing teams within an organization leverage the power of external coaching to facilitate cultural change and transform outdated organizational beliefs and employee perceptions.
You might be tempted to keep performance matters in-house, but Forbes says that peer-to-peer coaching and senior-junior coaching are limited in terms of confidentiality. External coaching can help team members who find it hard to be vulnerable around their bosses about their struggles.
What does it mean to be an agile organization? McKinsey enumerates five elements: a shared purpose, empowered teams, rapid learning cycles, dynamic people, and the right technology.
Together, these impactful elements drive highly successful agile transformations, which ultimately result in significant performance improvement.
Ultimately, what most business leaders are interested in is whether a high-performing environment makes a lasting and meaningful difference in the workplace. Is it really worth the investment of time, energy, and resources?
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of this dynamic culture:
It’s no secret that a positive workplace culture that ensures employees share a sense of purpose and a set of values are empowered to take on more of the workload, and thus, inevitably leads to more productive employees.
According to Harvard Business Review, this type of workplace is more successful in the long run because it boosts employees’ positive emotions, improves relationships, and amplifies abilities.
Meanwhile, cutthroat, high-pressure, and stressful working conditions do the opposite. Research shows that an estimated 550 million workdays are lost yearly due to workplace stress.
That’s right, there’s a link between culture and innovation as well! Forbes even goes as far as to describe culture as the “heart” of organizational innovation. But why is this so?
Well, companies can’t exactly force employees to innovate, but with the right culture, they can set up conditions that make it more likely to occur. For instance, organizations that encourage dialogue, embrace diversity and allow experimentation are highly supportive of innovation.
Your employees are less likely to leave when they’re immersed in an open and engaging environment where they feel attuned to company values and have a high sense of belonging.
Surprisingly, a study showed that strong work cultures have a projected turnover rate of only 13.9%, whereas companies with poor cultures have a staggering 48.4% projected turnover rate.
Toxic corporate culture is one of the driving factors behind the Great Resignation, a voluntary mass departure of employees that started in 2021.
Organizations with high performance cultures are more adaptable to a rapidly changing and hyper-competitive business environment. This type of culture enables you to recognize and fulfill new customer needs and generate better financial results in the process.
In fact, a research project that has studied the corporate cultures of 200 companies discovered that those with performance-enhancing cultures experience a 4x increase in revenue growth.
High-performing organizations utilize continuous improvement as a competitive edge. This ongoing effort unlocks a myriad of learning and development opportunities for everyone.
Knowledge or skill-enhancing programs advance your employees’ personal and professional growth, which benefits the organization as a whole. This also boosts engagement and reduces turnover by making workers feel that you’re willing to invest in their success.
So, what does a high performance culture look like in actual practice?
To answer this question, let’s take ideas and inspiration from several companies that have built exemplary cultures and what they have gained from doing so:
Adobe attributes the company’s record-breaking financial growth to its efforts in building a world-class employee experience.
This includes check-ins and direct reports with managers to support career growth and a data-driven Career Discovery tool to help employees discover new roles.
Employees and managers have to constantly touch base in order to align organizational values and achieve goals, which ultimately makes a difference when it comes to building a high-performance culture.
The company also offers a Professional Development Reimbursement of $1,000 for employees to pursue their preferred learning opportunities.
Lynne Oldham, Zoom’s chief people officer, takes pride in the company’s “culture of care.” She revealed that the company’s management strived to raise levels of care during the pandemic by providing additional mental health benefits for all employees.
As a result, the company successfully overcame the challenges of rapid growth, as the number of daily Zoom users skyrocketed from 10 million to 200 million.
Zoom also garnered multiple awards, such as Best Company Leadership and Best Place to Work in 2021.
In Deloitte’s Emerging Leaders Development Program, managing directors, principals, and partners provide valuable mentorship to high-performing employees. The program includes skill-building sessions, professional coaching, self-assessments, and 360-degree feedback.
Deloitte’s employees emerge from this program as leaders equipped to handle greater responsibilities and ready to take on the next stage in their careers.
Use these powerful strategies to guide you in establishing an exceptional culture of driven leaders and proactive employees:
An organizational purpose states your company’s reason for being, reflects your corporate identity, and demonstrates where you can have a lasting and positive impact on society.
According to McKinsey, connecting your employee’s individual purpose with organizational purpose is the critical link that encourages them to bring empowerment, creativity, and collaboration to the workplace.
Ongoing communication and effective leadership go hand in hand in providing your employees with the guidance they need to perform at a high level. Gallup data shows that employees are 3.6 times more motivated to do outstanding work when their manager gives daily feedback.
With Conversations®, your employees can request and receive feedback and high-quality coaching anytime and anywhere. Use this tool to set goals, conduct check-ins, and measure performance while fostering a culture of connection and employee growth.
A successful performance management process benefits your organization by clearly defining company standards, encouraging collaboration, and initiating corrective action to uplift poor performance.
Forbes enumerates three of the latest trends in performance management: hybrid work solutions, continuous check-ins, and data-driven decision-making.
Don’t miss out on recognizing and rewarding high-performing employees! This simple act can have manifold effects on employee turnover, engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, and workplace culture.
One thing to remember is that employee recognition isn’t just about saying “thank you.” Strive to create recognition moments that are personalized, meaningful, and memorable.
Did you know that a healthy work-life balance positively influences your employees’ job satisfaction and performance levels?
Health and wellness programs, bonding activities, flexible schedules, and paid time off are some of the ways you can support your employees’ mental and physical well-being.
After successfully implementing relevant systems and techniques to enhance your working environment, the next step would be to measure your company’s progress.
These metrics can help you track and determine whether you’ve achieved a high-performance culture that works to increase employee engagement and performance in your workplace:
Ongoing check-ins, workplace surveys, and two-way feedback are essential processes that define performance management. They’re an avenue for engaged employees to express their views on the company’s culture and important issues that need to be addressed.
These metrics also allow you to measure how your employees’ engagement levels, job satisfaction, and productivity evolve over time.
Some other methods of evaluating your organization’s culture include
These metrics serve the dual purpose of highlighting higher-performing employee achievements worth celebrating and revealing aspects of your company culture that need improvement.
Culture analytics enables your company to assess and measure key business dynamics using digital trace data from emails, customer communications, and other organizational data sources.
According to Harvard Business Review, companies should integrate data analytics and insights in their daily workflows and encourage employees to feel empowered in data-driven decision-making as opposed to relying on instincts or experience.
In today’s rapidly changing work environment, it’s more important than ever to cultivate a strong company culture. A recent report published by Gallup in partnership with Workhuman® reveals that only 1️⃣ in 4️⃣ employees feel connected to their company culture.
Don’t let the remote work revolution disconnect your team! 🌐
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A high-performance organizational culture is a collection of effective beliefs and behaviors that allow companies to optimize employee performance, achieve business goals, and attain superior results.
Alignment, agility, and goal commitment are some of the characteristics of high-performance organizational cultures.
Some effective strategies for creating a high-level performance culture include employee recognition, consistent performance management, and work-life balance initiatives. Organizations can also achieve a high-performance culture by providing learning opportunities for employees and establishing a worthy organizational purpose.
Companies are increasingly investing in physical or virtual environments designed to make workers as effective as possible in supporting business goals and providing unparalleled value.
A high-performance culture brings out the best in employees by creating an open and engaging virtual or physical environment that provides feedback, rewards achievements, encourages experimentation, and prioritizes well-being.
Establishing an exceptional environment is more than an overnight process and requires an ongoing commitment from all levels of your organization. Hopefully you’re now familiar with the strategies and key metrics you’ll need to develop a successful and proactive workforce.
With a shared vision, effective communication, and robust performance management systems in place, it’s possible for meaningful and lasting cultural change to occur.
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