Four Ways to Confirm a High Performing Culture

June 9, 2016

“An approachable and authentic CEO is essential to fostering a high performance, open communications culture.” – Scott Weiss, Author

The definition of high performance: Designed to operate at greater speed or with greater power than other things of the same kind. As applied to organizations or teams, high performance is indicated by focus on singular goals and achievement of superior results. A culture of high performance has indicators such as engaged employees, distributed accountability, delighted customers, and plain old-fashioned getting stuff done.

Many organizations talk about high performing people, teams, and culture…but do they really act and lead in ways that move the performance needle?

  1. Tone from the top. If the CEO and executive team are not themselves a high performing team, there will at best be only pockets of high performing culture and related results. Executives must be approachable, professional, show genuine interest in employees, and relentlessly constructive. Negative words or body language from an executive has a tremendous quelling impact. Employees who avoid executive interaction for fear of ridicule or reprisal are employees who are not positioned for high performance.
  2. Excessive and effective collaboration. If anything should be done to excess, it’s effective collaboration – personal, digital, and otherwise. Organizational structures have teams, units, divisions. But “divisions” shouldn’t lead to “divisive.” Are successful teams willingly jumping in to help struggling teams? Do struggling teams reach out for help because they know that help will be provided without judgment? Are resources generously shared versus hoarding?
  3. Singularity of purpose. When people ask what employees do, do they answer with a business result orientation? For example, in higher education do they answer: “I work on increasing graduation rates” or “I’m focused on lowering the cost of education”  instead of “I work in the registrar’s office.” While providing a title and role information is fine, leading with outcomes indicates that people understand and are passionate about the work.
  4. Results, results, results. Goes without saying that the ultimate proof of a high performance is results. Products that grow market share. Customer satisfaction that increases over time. Unit costs that go down. Ability to attract and retain good talent goes up.

In the Scott Weiss quote above, CEOs are mentioned. CEOs hold the primary accountability for culture; however everyone holds a piece of that accountability. Be the high performing culture that you want in your organization.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

Worth mentioning:

Worthwhile: #CIOChat every Thursday 2-3 p.m. ET on Twitter.

Also worthwhile:  The State Higher Education Finance Report, published by sheeo.org. A detailed report (with helpful charts) on the financial trends that shape state higher education, dating back several decades.

Worthless: A slap on the wrist for any person convicted of a crime.

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