Fewer than 12 percent of the Fortune 500 companies included in 1955 were still on the list in 2017. In a constantly changing and evolving business environment, research shows that CEOs are becoming the champions of change, amid the fluid nature of business operations and new regulatory rules, companies that are identified as high-performing are coping not just with new rules, they are constantly innovating.
In a new business paradigm that is dictated by technology and talent, how should businesses cope and catch up to become high-performance organization? As business leaders look for new ways to ensure organizational agility to help their businesses become more efficient and adaptable, here are a few key factors that can help organizations achieve higher performance, efficiency, and engagement:
1. Organizational culture: It is critical to identify, plan, and cultivate primary cultural drivers that elevate efficiency and productivity. Research by BCG suggests that high-performance organizations tend to focus on a lean organizational design and structure, robust change management, effective leadership, and a healthy culture of engagement that keeps employees motivated.
Organizations are turning to leaders and managers and enabling them to create a culture of inclusiveness, transparency, and collaboration to help their employees work better. They are also identifying future leaders and supporting them in developing leadership skills that are essential for the future of work.
2. Understand the role of leadership: The role of strong and effective leadership is more important than ever in building a high-performance organization. A survey by the American Management Association indicates that clear, fair, and talent-oriented leaders not only improve employee retention and loyalty but also enhance the readiness to meet new challenges and innovate. Experts at Bain and Co. say that centeredness or the ability to be mindful and calm in stressful situations is critical to leadership. Leaders who empathize, listen deeply, and remain present are the most inspiring.
One of the key roles of a leader today is to enable employees with varying skills to work together in a team and training employees to be ready for the future. However, traditional leadership development training programs fail to support leaders in developing new-age critical skills like inspiring employees, collaborating, building a relationship, championing change, and practicing self-development. New leadership development programs that are in-tune with today’s business complexities and help in developing leadership skills that support high-performance organizations are needed.
3. Processes and ownership: Redesigning business processes and organizational structures to improve efficiency and inculcate a sense of ownership among the workforce will be integral for staying agile and responsive to digital disruption. Research suggests that high-performance organizations are better aligned, capable, effective, adaptable, efficient, and engaged as compared to their peers and the structure and design of an organization has a direct bearing on these characteristics.
Organizations should begin exploring newer models of working that are better aligned with their strategic priorities and focus on building capabilities that are essential to realizing their short-term and long-term goals. By eliminating bottlenecks in decision-making, companies can make better decisions faster and develop the flexibility needed to excel in today’s environment. Leaders must take into account the rising priorities of the workforce and the increasing number of gig workers while designing new workplace models that help them leverage modern talent effectively.
4. Investment in people: A common characteristic among industry leaders is their commitment to invest in their people continually. Be it Google, P&G, Facebook or Apple, Uber, Fitbit, progressive organizations—are leaving no stone unturned to invest in their workforce to drive and engage them. These investments are spread across learning and training, benefits, rewards, wellness, and more recently, career planning as well.
Organizations today understand that employees need to be feel valued in order to connect with the larger organizational goals and are training their leaders to connect with the pulse of their teams. Thus, most organizations today have dedicated training and skilling programs, wellness policies, lateral movement programs, executive development programs, employee groups, and networks to ensure that employees remain productive, engaged, and motivated.
5. Innovation: In an era of continuous digital disruption, high-performance organizations encourage innovation and experimentation among employees by reducing the fear of failure, without negating the importance of discipline and accountability. Organizations are not averse to innovating their internal practices and processes, and even their business models, to keep up with the changing business landscape. Leaders and managers have an indispensable role to play in this process, and they will become the agents of change that build a culture of innovation.
While there are several approaches to building a high-performance organization, the need to enable stable and imaginative leaders in the process is vital. The need of the hour is for business leaders to develop their own action plan to apply concepts and processes to their own Personal Roadmap. Executive development programs that include a coaching component could serve as the bridge to do this. Organizations must focus on developing leadership skills among hi-potential employees and executive development programs and leadership development training to bridge the skills gap in today’s leaders and managers.
This article is based on a leadership course offered by FLAME University. For more information about the course, click here.