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As business planning for 2023 approaches, business leaders are setting priorities for next year and beyond. For some, the focus may de-emphasize productivity or take away some of the benefits such as flexible working schedules.
A high performance culture improves productivity, drives higher profits and happier employees, improves talent retention and continues the growth cycle. A cornerstone of 2023 growth should be the creation or maintenance of a high-performance culture for all businesses. Avoiding or forgetting about culture in 2023 is a mistake, as it plays a vital role in company performance.
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Understanding the importance of a high performance culture
A high performance culture allows an organization to succeed and grow. This type of structure is good for the business and for each employee. Not every high-performance culture will look the same, yet every organization with a high-performance culture values workers and has their trust in return.
Employees may come to work partly for the paycheck, yet evidence suggests they seek meaning from work and are more productive when they receive it. Like everyone, workers want to feel a sense of purpose and mission in their daily lives, and it’s natural to enjoy this at work.
The best cultures embed their mission throughout the employee experience, honor these values, and advance them every day. These cultures also provide their employees with interesting and engaging projects that inspire their sense of belonging to the organization. A recent survey by McKinsey showed that workers of all income levels believe that having an interesting job is just as important as earning a solid income.
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Workers feel satisfied with purpose-driven work. Unfortunately, many employers neglect culture in favor of focusing on profits. Workers require clarification and engagement in these types of work environments. In a Gallup poll, only four out of 10 employees strongly agreed that they knew what their company stood for and what sets their company apart from competitors. Even for organizations that frequently articulate their values, management may be viewed poorly if employees do not see the connection between the values and the organization’s actions.
When leaders are concerned about the future of their businesses, it’s tempting to ignore culture at the expense of profit. In fact, culture becomes even more important in times of economic uncertainty. At such moments, employees will look to management to set the tone. Without a culture that fosters engagement and collaboration, workers may lose productivity to stress and conflict.
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How to build a high-performance culture
To create a high-performance culture, first understand how your culture functions. Employees usually best understand culture by looking at their own satisfaction levels. Their daily experiences are usually defined by coworkers and frontline managers more than company management. Leaders who don’t work with frontline managers on a daily basis will need to talk to employees to understand their experiences.
Signs of a poor performance culture can include low employee retention, low productivity and frequent workplace conflicts. Not every employee will be satisfied, even in the highest-performing cultures, but consistently unhappy employees reflect serious problems. Direct, private conversations between employees and HR can provide insight. If employees seem reluctant to speak up, much-needed feedback through surveys can provide ways to track improvement.
After gathering information about employee experiences, HR may want to generate a report assessing the culture. Strong cultures must have a clear understanding of what policies contribute to the culture and how to sustain them. Doing so will help preserve civilization in the face of future business difficulties or leadership changes.
On the other hand, struggling cultures need to identify the most negative factors in their culture to begin to change. High-performance cultures include strong leaders, actively engaged employees, ongoing workforce development, strong communication and adaptability. If employees are fired, explore whether unbalanced workloads, micromanaging, lack of flexibility or absence of trust may be contributing factors.
During this process, employees also feel that their input is really welcomed, which it should be. Psychologically, employees accustomed to a toxic culture may be afraid to express their true thoughts, especially if their frontline managers have previously engaged in verbal abuse or humiliation. Build trust by taking responsibility to acknowledge that the culture hasn’t met the mark and protect employees who raise their concerns from retaliation.
Every leadership level, from the C-suite to frontline managers, plays an integral role in rebuilding a company’s culture. The positive vision laid out at the top needs to be made actionable. Once the vision has more tangible qualities, through structure and processes, each level of leadership can provide the necessary training and articulate how these goals translate into the fabric of the company.
A high-performance culture is often viewed as optional. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A high-performance culture is the backbone of an organization, providing a strong framework for business growth. Entering 2023, culture must be central to every successful business strategy.