Three Cornerstones of a High-Performance Culture

In an earlier post, I talked about the opportunity to turn the “great resignation” into the “great talent retention.” But then what? Just because you find a way to keep your existing talent doesn’t automatically make your organization a high-functioning, well-oiled machine. Now you have to figure out how to maximize the value of your talent by creating a high-performance culture.

High-performance teams are the building blocks of a high-performance culture. And capable, highly motivated individuals are the building blocks of those teams. As I have been building new teams in my own organization, I have tried to focus on three cornerstones that I believe are key to creating a high-performance culture:

Provide direction and support—not control.

Provide an overall direction for achieving a shared vision, then assume a coaching—not a command—role. Avoid the evils of micromanagement. Encourage initiative; allow time for a person to develop their own approach to achieving an agreed-upon goal. This creates a sense of ownership, rather than just doing a task they’ve been told to do. Encourage risk-taking. That means you don’t punish an employee when they get it wrong. Instead, look together at where the points of failure were and encourage your employee to take another shot at it. Giving people an opportunity to learn from their mistakes ensures they won’t make those same mistakes again.

Find a creative way to give recognition.

When we talk about recognition, job titles and salary increases are probably the first things that come to mind. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing an opportunity to create an empowered, highly motivated team. Build a sense of trust by untethering people from their desks. Perhaps that means allowing remote or hybrid work, or additional time off. Or you can encourage your team to take “walking meetings,” allowing them to get a breath of fresh air, clear their heads, and even walk their dogs while talking on the phone. One of the most powerful things you can do is to actively make your employees’ good work visible to higher levels in the organization. What could be more validating to an employee than having their boss’s boss congratulate and recognize them for their work?

Give them a journey to growth.

Employees who feel they’re in a dead-end job can’t be part of building a high-performance team. But if they see that what they’re doing now connects to the direction they’d like their career to go in the future, they will have a sense of purpose. They will see that the work they do will not only benefit the company today, it will benefit their own career path tomorrow. Some individuals may want to grow into a slightly different career direction than where they are currently headed. Support them in this. By building new skills, they will not only become a higher performer for your team, they will also increase their potential contributions in other roles in your company. Otherwise, they’ll likely leave to pursue other opportunities.

One way you can support employees’ path to high-performance is to avail yourself of tools that can pinpoint both employee strengths and where there are gaps in their skills. I have seen impressive results from G-Smart, an assessment platform from Global Indirect Markets that produces personalized learning pathways to sharpen your teams’ competitive edge, enhance specific skills, and speed up time to productivity. In your coaching role, you can help employees use the data produced by an objective assessment process to create their own development plan and chart their own path—a path that can fulfill both organizational objectives and employee aspirations.

Following these principles will help employee retention and drive high-performance. As individuals grow in their skills and experience, they create high-performance teams, which in turn create a high-performance culture.