Tags: Human Resources

Welcome back!  Last month in this blog, we discussed the impact of culture on performance and employee satisfaction in the workplace, as well as shared the top 10 signs of a destructive, toxic culture. 

In today’s blog, we are going to outline the critical elements of a high performance culture (HPC) and how to go about implementing it.  

As we discussed in last month’s blog, culture affects every aspect of your company, from the public’s perception of your brand to your employees’ job satisfaction to your bottom line. Because there’s so much at stake, it’s important that your corporate culture is focused on efficiency, collaboration, adaptability and open to improvement – and all starts with articulating just what kind of culture you work in and what you aspire the culture to become. 

A few things to keep in mind before we jump in - high performance culture is not dependent on one simple factor or as a result of one or two things. The entire context you operate in greatly impacts your results.  This context includes the culture of the company – how things get done, how decisions get made, what works and does not work, and what gets rewarded and how.  The key to building a high-performing culture is to make sure you consider the “‘what” and the “howyou will get to your destination points – the clear definitions of where you are going in a specific time-frame.

The specifics of a high performance culture are unique to your company because they are based on what will work best for you to achieve your goals and get to where you want to go.  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to culture.  So, based upon the research completed by Torben Rick and first published in 2011, outlined below are the ten components to consider as you are evaluating and implementing a High Performance Culture:


Look across the entire organization and define what it looks like from a variety of perspectives – sales, marketing, customer service, procurement, finance etc.


In the same way that leaders shape and communicate a vision, they also spell out a picture of the culture they are striving to create.  This can often be defining a set of guiding principles or values, but the best culture examples seem to go further by establishing preferred behaviors that support these values, with the following questions addressed:

  • Which aspects of our current culture are we happy/unhappy with?
  • What preferred behaviors do we need to implement in order to create the culture we want?
  • What behaviors actually get rewarded?
  • Which unacceptable behaviors are actually tolerated here? 
    • What are the consequences for those who continually violate our values?
  • How do we measure up against each of our preferred behaviors?


Employees tend to rise to the standard set for them. The more you expect, the more they will achieve. But there is a fine line between good stretch targets, which can energize an organization, and bad ones, which can dampen morale. 


The majority of employees want to be a part of a compelling future, want to know what is most important at work and what excellence looks like. For targets to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged. No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy


When individuals understand the boundaries in which they can operate, as well as where the company wants to go, they feel empowered with a freedom to decide and act, and most often make the right choices.


By sharing numbers with employees, you can increase employees’ sense of ownership. However, being open is not enough. You need to be sure your employees are trained to understand financial statements and have enough insight into their own jobs to know how to affect the numbers. Focus on additional metrics besides the financial ones. Employees who are not in the financial world will be able to relate better to the results and will feel more included in the process.


Employees who are engaged put their heart and soul into their job and have the energy and excitement to give more than is required of the job. Engaged employees are committed and loyal to the organization.


Storytelling can be a powerful tool when you want to drive organizational change and performance improvement. The leaders must be able use stories to motivate their employees to achieve more than they thought possible.


Internal communication needs to be on the top of the agenda – Have they heard the message? Do they believe it? Do they know what it means? Have they interpreted it for themselves, and have they internalized it?


Remember to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. Taking the time to celebrate is important because it acknowledges people’s hard work, boosts morale and keeps up the momentum. If you want something to grow, allow it to enjoy the sunshine!

So, there you have it, the ten components needed to effectively assess and implement a high performance culture that can be unique to your organization.  In next month’s blog, we will focus on how to cultivate an HPC for long-term sustainability and success.  I look forward to sharing the final step of the blueprint with you!

For more information like this, visit our HR Legal Insider Blog! For advice on cultivating an HPC in your office, contact one of our Sioux City attorneys, Sioux Falls attorneys, or Omaha attorneys today!


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