Glass half empty, or glass half full? It’s completely full, of course!
If you think of your life as a glass and all the activities as the water in it, yours is completely full, isn’t it?
You’re a business leader, a partner, a parent; you run a local club, you go to the gym, you’re building your own house, you’re watching box sets; you’re the family taxi driver, you’re on social media, you’re watching sport, you’re cooking, cleaning etc. The list feels endless.
We can write all we like about how to become a high performance company, team or leader, but the fact is that unless you lower the level of water in your glass and set some ring-fenced time aside to take a structured look at where you are and where you want to be, you’ll just keep on getting what you have always got. Nothing will change.
We at Opsis have spent a long time identifying a series of processes and tools that just work. They help our customers step back in a structured way from day to day pressures both on a one to one basis through coaching, or with tailored team events. They clarify direction, improve team effectiveness, develop approaches to winning new business, and more.
Let’s look at one area you probably haven’t got around to yet: How do you become a high-performance organisation?
Becoming a high performance organisation isn’t an overnight process – but it is, of course, extremely worthwhile and hugely beneficial to your business, your employees and your customers. The process takes time and effort, and it means that everyone in your company – starting at the top – needs to be on the same page, focusing single-mindedly on your core goal.
But before we go into how you become a high performance organisation, let’s remind ourselves what a high performance organisation actually is.
What is a high performance organisation?
Solid, stable and growing revenue, ROI and profitability are hallmarks of a high performance organisation, but certainly aren’t the only signifiers of being one.
Over at least a five-year period, a high performance organisation will not only outstrip its competitors in financial results, but also in non-financial results.
How? By making targeted, positive changes to processes and behaviours. These changes start at the top and have total commitment throughout the business. Every employee has to buy into the change.
There are six characteristics at the foundation of every high performance organisation.
- Clarity of the needs and dreams of all stakeholders
- A simple, aligned business strategy
- A structured change process which starts with the leadership team
- Leadership effectiveness and people capability
- Clear, updated and applied processes
- An aligned supply chain
How do you become a high performance organisation?
You can buy many, many books about high performing organisations, getting the most out of your management teams, increasing sales, becoming a better business person etc. etc. Often, these books contain nuggets of gold surrounded by plenty of waffle.
Becoming a high performance organisation requires commitment, energy and focus at all levels, and there are tools to help you get there. (Practical tools which you can start using straight away, without the waffle.)
Step 1: Clarify what high performance looks like for individual, leadership, team and organisational performance, and identify the gap between current performance and best practice.
Step 2: Use practical, relevant tools and training to bridge this gap. Use these tools straightaway!
Step 3: Attract, develop and retain high-quality employees by offering a clear development path, from first line management through to senior positions.
Simple, right? But how do you go about doing this? Let’s take a real-life example.
One of our favourite examples is Johnsonville Sausage, the market-leading sausage company in the USA. This is how Johnsonville became a high performance organisation…
In 1945, Ralph Stayer opened a butcher shop in Wisconsin. Johnsonville is now America’s number one brand of sausage and is available in 40 other countries.
But it could have been very different if it weren’t for Ralph Stayer and his ambitions for the company.
Stayer realised that his company was full of bored, uninspired and demotivated employees who often made careless mistakes and seemed not to care. He realised that his management approach was probably the major cause of this, and sought to ‘fix himself first’, before ‘fixing’ his employees if he was to create conditions that would turn the situation around.
So what did Stayer do? Firstly, he visualised what he wanted his organisation to look like. That meant an organisation where:
- People took responsibility for their own work and the product they produced
- They were heavily involved in decision making
- They were appropriately rewarded and recognised for good performance
- And most importantly, this resulted in high levels of staff commitment and market-leading results for Johnsonville
Secondly, Stayer conducted staff attitude surveys to assess the current mood and contributing factors to the general laissez-faire approach. He found that his employees had very little connection to the company and they saw very little ‘in it for them’. He now knew that he had to create conditions that enabled staff to feel involved and committed if he was to make his visualisation a reality.
It wasn’t a quick process. Stayer found that just giving people responsibility didn’t work, as they often tried to make decisions according to what they thought Ralph himself would have done.
He realised that he couldn’t give responsibility – people had to want it. He embarked on a coaching approach which was centred on communicating a vision of the future and the benefits of this vision, then enabled people to assess their own behaviour and overcome problems towards achieving this vision.
The results were high levels of ownership and commitment. People are:
- Responsible for their own performance and that of others in their team
- Involved in making the decisions they would then implement
- Making product quality control decisions
- Taking responsibility for problem-solving
- Recruiting and training new starters
Stayer encouraged high levels of shared leadership, empowerment, accountability, ownership and effective teamwork. He realised his vision.
Results of becoming a high performance organisation
The results and benefits of becoming a high performance organisation are many.
- There is a vision and strategy in place which clearly guides the leadership team
- The business retains its top talent, who feel valued and equipped for high performance
- All employees are committed to the business and have a single focus
- Top talent from the outside wants to work for your business, because they know you have a strong, employee-centric culture
- Customers are happy, and they talk about how happy they are with your business – so you get more customers
- And of course…your financials are strong and stable
If you want to set some time aside to take a structured look at where you are as a business and where you want to be, write to me and we’ll set up a meeting and get things moving.
Alternatively, you can let the water continue to overflow from your glass.
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.