A culture of performing well in a team is cultivated, fostered and nurtured, it’s not happenstance. This cultivation mixes motivation, encouragement, rewards and training in the right amount to propel the results and help employees reach their potential.
High-performance culture is often studied and analysed, in singular case-study based terms, which decreases the scope for identifying generic features of the same. In the bigger discourse in the corporate world, culture usually finds a place only after compensation, rewards, and incentives. But reading a little literature, on what promotes high-performance culture in a team, and an organisation on the whole, will throw up a few terms over and over again.
We have collated such concepts, to help you identify where you can get started on developing a high-performance culture in your team. We have also suggested some practices to inculcate these features in your team. Here are the 6 Cs of high-performance culture, which a leader must take due care of:
Probably an oversight by several leaders, establishing clarity in the team – structure, roles, chain of command, functioning, and evaluation–is not given as much importance as it should be. Humans, by nature, are complex beings, and more people than you would imagine fail to communicate clearly. Create policies and processes that are self-explanatory and evoke a sense of lucidity and ease. Open-meeting policies – meaning meetings that do not cover confidential information should be open to everyone, Open Book management – to evoke a sense of understanding as to how the company is doing, explaining performance evaluation systems and metrics, and how their role feeds into the bigger picture are a few starting points. Change and alter these according to your company culture and feedback.
In the same line of thought, having effective communication channels with everyone is essential. Break the habit of having an inner and outer circle of employees – both privy to different amounts of information and progress. Make sure what you want to convey – about micro and macro targets – actually reaches the team, and everyone understands the vision, the goal. Make room for feedback to reach everyone timely; some organisations have experimented with anonymous feedback mechanisms – see if you can do that as well! Establish processes that allow you to check in with your team – personally and professionally – to fully understand what is working, and what is not, and more importantly, why so. Be generous in praise and be clear and conscious in feedback.
Allow your team to take charge. Give them autonomy – and ownership, not just of decision-making but also small things like having the liberty of their office space, their routines, and respect their decisions to maintain a work-life balance. You need to allow your teammates to be confident in the position they are in, and this can only be built by a consistent effort to ensure that they fully understand and appreciate the importance of their work. Additionally, work actively to knock down informal barriers that prolong decision making and ensure that centralisation of power is limited to only important and bigger decisions. Encourage and commend them when things they are responsible for turn out well. You can read more about creating empowered employees here.
This particular term has been used around so much that it has probably lost its sheen. But learning from each other – not only in skill-specific professional terms, but growing together in every respect is an essential part of ensuring that everybody does well. Devise a way that is unique to your organisation and do not stick to the traditional – yet often outdated – practices of collaborating. Do not restrict your definition of collaboration to using technological tools and interfaces, and instead focus on simple and effective practices. Even the most basic tips to promote collaboration find their roots in simple communication, diversity, and building on what you already have – instead of spending heavily on software or technological support.
A leader must facilitate an effective mechanism for critique and failure to be systematically studied. There must be spaces to bring up bad news, ask difficult questions, and take onus and responsibility. There are ways in which you can relay the worst information and give the harshest of criticism effectively, while being professional. But, the difficulty and awkwardness in conveying a critique, or talking about weaknesses, must not be reason to abandon it altogether. If it is common knowledge that one will be answerable and accountable for the outcome, and clever wordplay or shifting the blame won’t work, or consistent mediocrity will not be awarded – the team will strive to do their best every time.
Finally, fostering a high performance culture takes dedication and commitment, and more importantly consistency in following through. The leader needs to be able to fully reflect and act on the rules and processes designed for everybody else. It isn’t very inspiring when a team leader reminds everyone the night before to reach on time for an early morning meeting and rushes in 20 minutes late cussing traffic. Additionally, admitting to a wrong decision or acknowledging limited understanding of a particular area will not always result in loss of influence or power, as one might assume. A leader really needs to believe in his or her team’s progress and must be invested enough to see them shine; and it is the ingenuity of efforts to work towards the same that will earn respect and admiration.
There you have it, a basic beginner's guide to promote a high-performance culture in your team. You have heard all these terms before, and the concepts aren't entirely new either, but these can serve as directives and yardsticks for you to first understand what sort of a culture sustains in your team, and then go on to improving it. Also, all of these operate in unison – for you cannot expect team members to collaborate successfully or have clarity if the communication is patchy. Finally, all of this will be put to test, not only when you implement it, but also when (and how) you attempt to rise above the challenges and obstacles that come while establishing a high-performance culture.
How do you ensure a high-perfomance culture in your team? Leave us a comment, or write to us.