High-potential employees need to be challenged to learn, grow and use their ‘superpowers’ to propel your company forward; to do that, they need a culture that reinforces why performance matters, shares Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer, PMI Worldwide.

Building a performance culture means that each employee is accountable for the impact that he or she delivers. This powerful design fosters a shared sense of responsibility, as employees create their company’s success.

High-potential employees need to be challenged to learn, grow and use their “superpowers” to propel your company forward; to do that, they need a culture that reinforces why performance matters.

A performance culture stands to inspire your employees’ best efforts while growing their capacity to keep pace with business growth. A performance culture draws clear lines between the impact employees deliver and the rewards it earns them. It can position your employees to evolve into their best professional selves and to commit to your strategy, which they help shape.

Here’s how to build your performance culture.

Go big: Performance culture basics

In a performance culture, every individual and team is accountable for the impact that their work drives. Employees use their skills and talent to advance their company’s efforts, and they are instrumental to the growth and success of the business.

To foster a performance culture, build strategies that cultivate employee engagement. Develop your team’s skills, capabilities, and processes to achieve a competitive advantage in the market.

Differentiate talent by using a consistent framework and provide leaders with the data to make talent decisions. Link employee assessments to action. Map values to broader business priorities and goals, in addition to connecting each individual and team’s impact.

Performance criteria, then, moves away from the abstract and becomes about career progression, reinforcing the objectives that drive output.

One team: We are who we hire and develop

The talent you recruit goes beyond “nice-to-have”. Having a talented team who gets it makes or breaks your business. Systematise your hiring process to ensure that you make the right hires. Ask: What skills are associated with this role and culture? Where do gaps and risks exist?

Knowing what you need clarifies your strategy. The right person in the right role at the right time equals magic.

Feedback is a gift where positive intent is assumed and not a surprise. Provide candid and timely feedback. Performance cultures raise the level of engagement across the organisation, creating authentic performance conversations between managers and employees.

Own it: Performance mapped to values

Driving results is fundamental to success, but how you get there matters equally. It is imperative to make sure that “the how” (behaviours and values) are clear and embedded in your talent practices. Just as there is a high bar for recruiting the best talent, you need clear performance standards.

It is important to have a framework that maps both individual and team goals. This means identifying strengths for employees across your team and mapping their roles to those strengths. It also requires exposing talent gaps and addressing those through recruiting efforts. Finally, it requires building strategic succession plans.

Clarify performance objectives and priorities for improvement

Managing performance means continuing to upskill and offer opportunities so employees can earn better results. This benefits your business and your employees.

A performance objective may involve setting stretch goals that emphasise impact, or rotating to a new role to gain skills. Once employees understand expectations, they can adapt behaviours. To keep employees evolving, leaders need to be purposeful. This means developing career tracks for new opportunities, plus identifying the skills that the organisation needs. This also helps to identify and develop the next generation of leaders.

It is important to have clarity around expectations, so that low performers are identified and managed out with dignity.

Sometimes, coaching is not effective and performance does not improve. This can be a high-intensity culture that isn’t for everyone. There’s no shame in that.

Go big: Support outcomes

A high-performing team is distinguished by a culture of development. Once managers align performance with these expectations, identify individuals who perform at levels that exceed expectations. Determine where performance should be to isolate performance gaps.

Succession planning sends a clear message to employees that there are opportunities to build their future here. This is a performance outcome. It’s leadership delivering results, by assuring employees that their future is one of the company’s valued assets.


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