Are You The Leader Of A High Performance Organisation?
To be honest, if you’re not sure of the answer to this question, then you’re probably not. But the good news is, you can be. It’s just a matter of knowing what high performance would look like for your organisation, and figuring out the steps you need to take to get there.
I’ve spent most of my career helping leaders develop both their organisations and managers to increase their leadership, management and organisational effectiveness – in effect, to become what I would term a high performance organisation. I know that this can be achieved in different ways, and I would really like to hear your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions. This is just my view – what’s yours?
“We worked as a team and we knew we were up against very strong opponents, but we went out on the golf course and believed in ourselves and what we stand for as a team. We never, ever looked towards their team about what they were about. We were about us as a team and what we do.”
Thomas Bjorn, captain of the winning Ryder Cup team 2018.
Most people work around 245 days per year full-time. If you have 50 employees, that means they’re collectively working 12,250 days per year – that’s 33 FULL YEARS worth of time invested in your company per year.
My point? Imagine your employees – not all, but a good proportion – aren’t satisfied at work. Perhaps there’s a negative culture, a lack of motivation, no desire to make improvements. Maybe they’re just going through the motions, eyes wide shut.
Now imagine you have 50 employees who take ownership, who are able and allowed to work on their initiative, they’re bought into the business strategy, thinking about profitability, improving processes, great customer service, even innovation.
Which business is getting the most out of that 33 years’ worth of time, each and every year? (That’s not a trick question!)
A Spotter’s Guide to a High Performance Organisation
A high performance organisation stands out a mile from its competitors. That’s because the whole company, from intern to CEO, shares the same energy and commitment to one vision and one goal.
They are one network with one set of values. John Morgan, CEO of Morgan Sindall Group, has described it to me as the “buzz factor,” which I think explains it perfectly. It’s obvious if you have it…and it’s obvious if you don’t.
Leading from the Top
A high performance organisation is built by a leader and a leadership team who are prepared to make significant changes and want to stimulate performance improvement across the entire business. Does that sound like you and your business?
Because it has to start with you, right at the top, before filtering down into the rest of the organisation.
Michael Howard, former CEO of Levi Strauss Europe, once told me that, “The role of management is to provide clarity.” Clarity will help you on your way to becoming a high performance organisation, no matter what your areas of development are, or what path you follow.
So, What Exactly is a High Performance Organisation?
A high performance organisation surpasses its competitors in both financial and non-financial results over at least a five year period. They do that by making focused, positive changes to attitudes, behaviours and processes which are driven from the top, have complete commitment at all levels, and an emotional desire to change in line with company goals. Every employee has to buy in to the change. Every brain must be in the game.
That means the culture in a high performance organisation is key. A survey on culture and change management conducted on more than 2,200 companies across the world found that 84% of participants believe that culture is critically important to business success. A strong culture also means increased revenue and net income – it positively impacts the bottom line.
How To Become a High Performance Organisation
Briefly (because this is a much larger topic for another article or two), the first step taken by effective leaders who want to implement the major change needed to become a high performance organisation is always to start with the end in mind.
You need to clarify what high performance looks like for your business at an organisational, leadership and team level. This helps you identify the gap between current performance and best practice. In essence, you need to have the ideal situation for your business – the ultimate goal – in mind, and then go back and decide which changes to implement which will get you there.
6 Characteristics of a High Performance Organisation
High performance, leading edge companies are doing something different, and to become one, you need to know what that something different is. The team on the top of the mountain didn’t just fall there.
There are six characteristics at the foundation of every high performance organisation. Think about what your organisation would look like if it was high performing – what needs to change in your organisation under each of these characteristics that would help you get there?
- Detailed clarity of the current needs and future dreams of both internal and external customers and stakeholders
- A simple, aligned business strategy which is regularly renewed, and is based on the above point as well as anticipated changes in the marketplace
- A project-managed, structured continuous change process which starts with leadership team
- Effective leaders who act as role models and competent employees using a common language
- Clear, updated and applied processes directly aligned to customer needs
- An aligned supply chain which uses a common language with your company
So going back to my initial question – are you the leader of a high performance organisation?
I hope so! But if reading this has made you feel like you want (or need) to dramatically increase your leadership, management and organisation effectiveness, we have the tools to help you do just that.
I’d be really interested to hear your comments as well – what’s your view on high performance organisations? Is there anything you’d add, or a different perspective you would share? Feel free to leave a comment below.
About me, David Williams – Opsis Consulting MD
Opsis have spent 24 years helping leaders develop both their organisations and managers in line with our purpose, which is to increase the leadership, management and organisational effectiveness of our clients. Prior to establishing Opsis, I was Head of Management Development & Training for Rolls Royce and Bentley. I have run key leadership programmes for Toyota, Bridgestone, Parker and Levi Strauss, and regularly work at board level with some of the U.K.’s leading companies. I’m passionate about ensuring that any development work we conduct is focused on live client operational issues. The tools we introduce just work.