Attracting top talent and building a high-performing culture are the most important elements in a company’s success. High-potential employees need to be challenged to learn, grow, and use their “superpowers” to propel your business forward. To do that, they need a framework and a culture that reinforces why performance matters.
A performance culture inspires high performers’ best efforts. It also builds accountability and rigor around how you set goals and reward employees for results. When this is done well, you create an environment where employees can evolve while aligning people development with business strategy.
Here’s how to build your performance culture.
Performance Culture Basics
Building a performance culture means ensuring that every individual and team is accountable for the business impact it delivers. It is a powerful design that ensures a shared sense of responsibility companywide. Through their skills, talent, and impact, employees cocreate the company’s success.
Employee assessments are linked to action. In addition to each individual’s and team’s impact, this cultural paradigm shows how values map to broader business priorities and goals.
Performance criteria move away from abstract and become about career progression and succession planning. This reinforces the objectives that drive output.
You Are Who You Hire
The talent you recruit goes far beyond “nice to have.” Having a talented team who gets it makes or breaks your business. Your team delivers your success.
Systematize your hiring process to ensure you make the right hires. Start by asking: What are the most important skills associated with this role? What does a new hire need to be successful in this culture? What skills exist today? Where do potential gaps and risks exist?
Having a clear sense of what you are looking for in new hires and what they need to be successful in their work will help clarify your strategy.
Performance Management Basics
Driving results is fundamental to success, but how you get there equally matters. It is imperative to make sure that “the how” (behaviors and values) is clear and embedded in your talent practices. Your performance mechanisms reinforce your values. Just as there is a high bar for recruiting the best talent, you need clear performance standards to manage that talent and develop and keep high performers.
Performance cultures help to raise the level of engagement across the organization, creating authentic conversations between managers and employees around performance. It is important to have a framework for what success looks like that maps both individual and team goals.
This means identifying strengths for employees across your team and mapping their roles to those strengths. It also requires exposing talent gaps in your bench and devising plans and strategies to address them through recruiting and development efforts. Finally, it necessitates building succession plans around the specific capabilities critical to success.
Clarify Performance Objectives
You build a performance culture by ensuring that every individual and team is accountable for the business impact and results it achieves. Managing performance in such a culture means continuing to up your team’s skills and opportunities so it can earn better results. That is a win for your business and your employees.
A performance objective may involve setting stretch goals with a focus on impact rather than activity. It could mean rotating to a new role to gain new skills or experiences. Once employees understand what is expected of them and how these expectations link to impact and drive business performance, they can adapt their behaviors to those expectations.
Providing meaningful paths for growth and development is essential for employees’ success. To keep high-potential employees evolving, leaders need to be purposeful. This means developing career tracks to help employees develop and explore new opportunities. It also involves identifying the skills that the organization needs to evolve, which helps map development programs. This initiative helps to identify and develop the company’s next generation of leaders.
It is important to have clarity around expectations so that low performers are identified and managed out with dignity. Sometimes, coaching is not effective, and performance does not improve. This can be a high-intensity culture that isn’t for everyone. There’s no shame in that.
Support Performance Outcomes
Performance management is vital to the success of a performance culture. Managers need to understand the nuances of performance accountability, improvement, and management.
A high-performing team is distinguished by a culture of development. Employee commitment is driven by different factors, including job design, growth opportunity, and culture. Once managers align performance with these expectations, identify individuals who perform at levels that exceed expectations. Determine where performance should be to isolate performance gaps. Then, design an action plan for career progression.
Career development and succession planning send a clear message to employees that there are opportunities to grow, succeed, and build their future. Leaders reinforce performance and future-proof their business while creating an exciting culture for employees to contribute and thrive.
Tammy Perkins is the Chief People Officer at PMI.