Creating a High-Performance Organizational Culture: Aligning People, Strategy, and Processes
Mar 04, 2009
You have an impressive pool of talent. But even for organizations with strong people, it’s necessary to align that talent with strategy and process to create a high- performance organizational culture.
How? There are seven steps toward creating a high-performance organizational culture. From defining what “high performance” means to you to developing metrics to assess whether you’ve achieved your ultimate goals, these steps will help you effectively leverage your number-one asset: your people.
1. Define High-Performance Culture
Before beginning the process of creating a high-performance organization, it’s important to answer this critical question: Where do you want to go? Action plans must align with strategic plans, and including others in this process increases employee engagement. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include strategic planning, identifying leadership competencies, defining the culture that will support a high-performance organization, and creating mission, vision, and values statements.
2. Identify Gaps Between Current and Desired Culture
Once the destination has been identified, it becomes important to ask: Where are you now? Are you doing as well as you could be? This may involve benchmarking work or analyzing whether you’re using best practices. There may be some areas where your organization is functioning well and others where there are significant gaps. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include gap analysis, organizational culture assessments, benchmarking, talent audits, technology assessments, and process improvement.
3. Select, Develop, and Retain the Best People
Organizations are increasingly recognizing that having strong people is a key success factor for creating a high-performing organization. Now the question becomes: Who is going to get you where you want to go? Building a leadership pipeline that increases the bench strength of talent throughout the organization is a common success characteristic among high-performing organizations. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include personnel selection (assessment and interviewing), leadership development (training and coaching), retention programs (keeping top talent), and succession planning.
4. Create and Modify Processes to Support the Culture
Will your current processes get you where you want to go? Developing and implementing best-in-class processes or modifying existing processes and work procedures can increase efficiencies, increase productivity, and improve profit margins. Effectively leveraging technology also contributes to building high-performance organizations. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include process improvement innovations, implementing lean principles, and applying technology solutions.
5. Communicate Effectively at All Levels
Effective communication plans begin at the top but must provide local examples to people in the trenches. To fully engage employees, it’s important to be able to answer the following question: What is it that you want them to do differently? This question is best addressed at the local level by managers and supervisors. One tool that can be helpful at this stage includes developing a detailed communication plan to roll out to the organization, creating an opportunity for dialogue among the workforce.
6. Design and Align Reward Systems
How do you keep people on track? Measuring individual performance as it relates to organizational goals is an important step in aligning behavior, processes, and strategy. In creating performance management systems, emphasizing continuous “real-time” feedback rather than once-a-year evaluations becomes a key component in effectively managing performance. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include performance management systems that emphasize accountability and link individual performance to organizational goals.
7. Develop Metrics to Assess Progress
How do you know when you get there? While some argue persuasively that high-performance organizations are engaged in a state of continuous improvement, it’s important to proactively decide what you’re going to measure to determine if the organization is on track. Tools that can be helpful at this stage include balanced score cards, goal setting, and management by objectives.
At the core of a high-performing organization is a strong organizational culture. These companies benefit from higher revenue margins, higher employee commitment, and lower turnover and absenteeism. They also tend to be much more adept at recruiting and retaining top talent.