Updated: Sep 11
Individual, team, or organizational, there are five things that must align to drive high-performance. Compromise any of these and you and others will notice sub-par individual, team, and organizational performance.
Which one are you struggling with?
Never achieved high-performance
Haven't been able to sustain high-performance
Performance is dwindling
Whatever your challenge is, take these five to be your dashboard indicators of what needs to be worked on to develop a performance culture, and run an efficient performance-driven system.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Again, whether individual, team, or organization, if you don't know your purpose, you will go through the motions of everything else. "Going through the motions" has never been a descriptor of high-performers.
Seeing yourself or others lifelessly trudging through work?
Has the purpose for why I am/we are here clear and compelling high-performance in me/us?
If the answer is, "Man! No, it's not!" You have problem, and opportunity to instill a sense of purpose, meaning, and passion in yourself and others. And you will see it reflected in overall performance.
According to Harvard Business Review, when asked for their reasons for Quiet Quitting (where people are coasting and doing the minimum at work), and McKinsey & Company on the Great Resignation (where masses are quitting their jobs), "lack of a sense of purpose/meaning" is cited as one of the top three reasons for the unprecedented post-pandemic levels of decreased performance and outright quitting.
Instilling purpose into work turns out to be a greater determinant of performance and success than individuals and organizations have given it credit for.
“Culture is how employees hearts and stomachs feel about Monday morning on Sunday night.”
If you have a negative psychological and physiological reaction to the thought of going to work, it is a no-brainer that your performance will be impacted too.
Whether known or unbeknownst to you, this signals one of two things; your core "non-negotiable values are unmet or dishonored in your work environment" - Modesta Mahiga in Start Now! With Purpose & a Masterplan.
With diversity in race, gender, age, location, and a myriad of other differences that come together at the workplace, managing organizational culture is a critical success factor for individual, team, and organizational performance.
If your individual performance is waning, ask yourself whether any of your own core non-negotiable values are unmet or dishonored at work, and what, if anything you can do to address that. If you are a leader over teams and the larger organization, assess whether low performance is an indicator of workplace tensions that need redressing for greater harmony, creativity, contribution, and ultimately high performance.
“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well - that's work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, what's what continuous improvement is all about.”
Nothing kills morale, productivity, and performance like chaos. It is tragic to see how many organizations spare no cost to attract talent, only to lose them to a chaotic organizational ecosystem that they neglected.
The CEO of one of the companies I consult for recently recounted how he had headhunted and hired some of the best in the industry, high-performers with great promise. In a short span of time, those high-performers started getting luke-warm, until they performed no better than the processes in the system they worked in allowed them to.
If your individual, team, or organizational performance is mediocre despite high-caliber contributors, audit the processes you are working with, and you may notice wasted talent, productivity drag, and process loss due to working in an inefficient environment.
Improve processes, and you will certainly move the needle on performance.
“You can't manage what you don't measure.”
If you can't define and measure performance with metrics that matter, performance loses context and effectiveness. People do what is before them to do without an indication of whether it is good enough, great, or mediocre. Whether it is mediocre, average, or high performance, no one knows because no one measures, and as Peter Drucker cautioned us, "you can't manage what you don't measure."
Seeing a lot of busyness but cannot attribute any of it to increased performance? Implement a performance management system that defines, measures, tracks, and takes action to steer individual, team, and organizational performance across a measurement scale.
“The goal of measurement is to not only do things right but do the right things and continuously improve doing that.”
5.Reward & Penalty
“When there is no consequence for poor work ethic, and no reward for good work ethic, there is no motivation.”
Behavioral psychologists will tell you that people take cues from group dynamics. If a high-performer is not rewarded for their effort or sees no penalties for their colleagues' mediocre performance, they will either lower their standards, or get resentful and leave. The performer whose low work ethic is not penalized will also have zero motivation to do better.
Individuals, teams, and organizations need and expect reward for high performance, and penalties for poor performance. Without these, lackluster performance is the most that can be expected.
Wondering why your or others' performance is low? Assess whether there is any reward for good performance, or penalties for low performance. You may find that this is what makes your and others' performance ebb and flow.
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