What is a Performance Culture?
- Accountable, results driven
- A focus on people
- Long-term orientation
- Proactive and decisive
- Open and transparent
How do you create a Performance Culture?
Changing a culture is really about changing the behaviors of the people in the organization. Changing behavior is not accomplished through a one-time training class or some special incentive. Instead, it requires a long-term view with regular and frequent support from the top of the organization.
Leadership’s Role is to Provide Clarity & Ensure Accountability
Senior leaders have the greatest impact in terms of creating a performance culture. It starts with the creation of a strategic direction, delivered with great clarity. Employees must get a sense that those leaders are taking the company in the right direction. A second element involves leadership’s focus on people. Part of that focus must be that the leaders are seen as being concerned for the well-being of their employees. In addition, they must be viewed by the ‘rank-and-file’ as being accessible and approachable. Finally, leaders must model the desired behaviors (and values) every day and with every employee interaction. Their most critical behavior is demonstrating accountability.
Many companies struggle to hold their employees, managers, and leaders accountable for performance. Likely a big reason for this is that people struggle to set clear expectations and have difficult performance conversations. The truth is that there must be consequences for failing to meet expectations and commitments. That is the essence of accountability. Without consequences, there is chaos.
A terrific resource for helping to people better understand and deliver accountability is ‘The Oz Principle.’ The book is dedicated to sharing practical methods on how to improve both individual and organizational accountability. The spirit of the book is that both people and organizations have a choice to either act above or below the accountability line. This thin line separates success from failure.
Below the line lies excuse making, blaming others, confusion, and an attitude of helplessness. Conversely, companies and people that act above the line have a sense of reality, ownership, commitments, and are solutions oriented.
Answer these questions to determine if your organization is operating below the line:
- Do our employees tend to ignore or deny problems?
- When something needs to be done, do our employees say “It’s not my problem”?
- Is there finger pointing behavior in which people seek to shift the blame to others?
- Do our employees say “I’m confused, tell me what to do to solve the problem”?
- Is there a CYA mentality?
- Do employees take a “wait and see, maybe things will get better” approach?
The Role of HR
How can you as an HR professional influence the performance culture? Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Train on Accountability
- Train both leaders and their teams on the crucial relationship between accountability and organizational results
- CAI has an excellent training program called, Becoming the Totally Responsible Person ® (TPR). This program reinforces the importance of personal accountability.
- Coach Accountability
- Ensure that continuous feedback becomes an everyday part of every manager’s job
- HR needs to assume that managers will need formal training of how to provide performance feedback
- Reward Accountability
- Recognition programs should spotlight those who consistently are highly accountable
- Reward project teams that deliver on their commitments
- Measure Accountability
- Train managers on how to have difficult conversations with their team members
- Use metrics, tools and resources to make the process easier
- Use success factors (profiles) rather than generic job descriptions to clarify expectations
For further information on this topic contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team today!
Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team. He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.