Creating and Maintaining a High-Performance Culture
Posted on: 9 Oct 2018
Where did the UK rank in the most recent global productivity survey?
7th? Not even close. It came 16th with a productivity sum of £111 per person. Go up the scoreboard and Luxembourg reigns supreme at £301 per person.
That means workers in Luxembourg are 170.27% more productive than employees in the UK.
Including Luxembourg, France, Norway, Germany and the United States are but a few of the nations with better productivity scores than Britain.
Let’s take a look at the reasons behind our low productivity scores and how creating a high-performing culture can upheave the state of play.
Are We Overworked?
You could say we’ve been socially engineered to accept the 9-5, five-days-a-week working culture. Is this a bad thing?
Most of the nations outranking the UK have much shorter working weeks than ours. For example:
UK (16th in productivity): 32-hours on average
Norway (2nd in productivity): 27-hours on average
“You should not confuse your career with your life” – Dave Barry
The more hours people work, the less time they get to focus on personal things. This can cause stress and anxiety, and when coupled with exhaustion, sick days increase.
Could this be the root cause of our plummeting productivity? It’s certainly a contributor. But not the whole answer.
You can cut staff hours, revamp your offices and introduce flexible working and your business’ productivity level still won’t be as high as you’d like.
Because, at its crux, building a high-performance culture is about hiring the right people:
“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” – Steve Jobs
You need phenomenal staff to build a growth-boosting culture to elevate performance. But do you deserve them?
Have You Looked in the Mirror?
When was the last time you paused to think about why you do certain things? Zoom in on a high-performing candidate: will they be attracted to your brand’s values?
Olli Laurén, who leads the Global Machinery and Engineering segment of Egon Zehnder’s Industrial Practice, says that high achieving companies have a “passion for renewal”.
They are humble and comfortable with disrupting the way things are done to achieve progress.
Continually learning and seeking innovation is how they stay ahead of the curve.
Emulating this agile approach to your company culture will help you evolve. It will help you ask the right questions – are you sending a compelling message to growth-seeking candidates?
Enchanting Top Talent
Do you inspire people? If you can build a company culture on helping people grow, ideal candidates will flock to your doors. Make job offers exciting by tying your company’s success to individual actions.
When your employees outdo themselves and achieve their biggest goals, the company can flourish.
Also, make the endgame worthy of their time. It’s good to have a grand purpose – it can be momentous, like Amazon’s mission:
“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Or something as simple as TED’s narrative:
Herb Kelleher, founder of the widely-successful Southwest Airlines, highlights the importance of broadcasting a greater purpose.
If you want an effective way to attract talent, make it so that employees feel like they are “participating in a crusade” and they will devote themselves to the cause.
When team members are stifled by office politics, they can’t explore opportunities for self-development.
Martin Murphy, a performance and leadership coach who works closely with the Adam team, stresses how giving employees the freedom to thrive is critical for high-performance:
“High-performers, liberated from hierarchical and bureaucratic interference, unleash more of their creative potential. When candidates understand that your organisation will treat them like adults, then you’ll attract talented people who want to step up their game.”
Norway ranked 2nd in the global survey for productivity. Not only does the country advocate shorter working weeks but it enables individuals to enjoy their independence at work:
“There is a high degree of autonomy in both what employees do and how they do it, and there is generally a high level of trust that everyone contributes to the common goals and objectives.” – New in Norway
Give your teams creative autonomy and the freedom to develop on their own terms (in a way that accomplishes the team’s mission) and passion is born.
Passion fuels productivity: when people care about their work, they become highly motivated. You never know, you might have a Good Will Hunting situation on your hands – perhaps you’ll discover a prodigy who’ll lead your business to scintillating success.
Enabling Personal Progression
Learning is addictive for high-achievers. They are on a journey to self-actualisation: a term coined by the renowned neurologist and psychiatrist, Kurt Goldstein, to describe the process of maximising one’s potential.
Satisfy their hunger for self-development by providing an environment that unlocks learning and growth. Invest in tools to upskill your staff but also give peak performers the opportunity to work on themselves, as Martin Murphy puts it:
“As well as job-specific skills, top talent also enjoy personal development training. Boosting the collective intelligence of the team requires increasing their social perception skills such as empathy and self-awareness.”
Emotional intelligence is rocket fuel for high-performance. Such training enables individuals to express their emotions more effectively and look at situations objectively. They gain clarity of mind to think positively and work towards a greater goal rather than be motivated by individual glory.
Elite talent deserve the best training tools. That means investing in top-shelf software and highly-experienced coaches. This will help you create a dynamite employee value proposition, strengthening your culture.
And again, take a page from Norway’s book:
“For a newcomer it may be difficult to distinguish the boss from the rest of the employees.”
Break down the hierarchical barriers between staff and create an open feedback culture. When employees can provide or receive feedback from their peers regardless of their position, they open themselves up to wider learning, deepening their workplace relationships for improved collaboration.
Increase your employees’ happiness by giving them the training and feedback they need to flourish. Productivity will rise as a result, and when worker satisfaction soars, prospective candidates at the top of their game will take notice.
Show Your Appreciation
Finally, to really drive a high-performing culture, your people need recognition for their achievements.
“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward
A person who feels appreciated is likely to do more than what’s expected. But to really impress elite employees, you need to think beyond cash bonuses.
Consider the possibility of making your high-performers shareholders. This is a powerful incentive for your best employees to stick with the business. It tethers employees to your company’s success, pushing them to smash their targets while driving your bottom line.
EOG Resources uses this retention tactic masterfully through its annual equity grant program. In this highly-productive Fortune 500 company, every employer is a shareholder and a very happy one at that since the enterprise’s stock price has risen by 500% in the past ten years.
Another key element to productivity-boosting rewards is linking recognition to your core company values. This helps you reinforce your company’s message, consolidating that your employees are with you for the right reasons.
For example, high-performing cultures are built on teams working beautifully together. Rewarding your people with company away days or even holidays is a brilliant way to show your appreciation while encouraging continued collectiveness.
Take a page out of our book. We recently took the entire Adam team away for a weekend trip in Porto to celebrate their collective achievements.
On a smaller scale, we regularly reward employee excellence with meals out at first-class restaurants with directors. We also let our team spend days out networking in the countryside on events such as freshwalks, giving them a break from busy city life.
Redefine the Future
What will it take to drive long-term exceptional performance? As we’ve gathered, it’s as much about the things you do and how you do them as it is about the people you employ.
When you create a set of behaviours and norms that encourage better results, you’ll inspire industry superstars to join you in this mission and remain with you for the ride.
How compelling is your employee value proposition? Find out by reading our recent blog. We also discuss how to build a powerful individual value proposition to help you attract high-performing employees.
Additionally, are you an agency that needs deeper insight into improving your company culture? This blog contains all the information you need to create fantastic working environments.
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