Get high performance into your culture DNA

High performance cultures need leaders who behave like it really matters.

Leaders who are serious about it and show it in what they say, how they think and what they do.

This tool is about making sure you’re doing what you need to do to develop, grow and maintain a high performance culture.

Reading time: 4 minutes

What will it do?

This tool is about making sure you’re doing what you need to do to develop, grow and maintain a high performance culture. It’s a habit forming tool, not a once and done. So keep it close and use it regularly.

You can use it whether you’re at the start of developing your high performance culture, whether you need to maintain and nurture it or whether you need to breathe life back into it. It’s also worth looking at the “Building a Culture of Excellence” kitbag to make sure you’ve got the basics in place.

Three steps to take

Get focused on the things that will make the most impact for you

1. Look at the table. These are some of the most important things we see leaders do with passion, intensity and discipline. Prioritise the things you think will make the biggest impact, where “1” is highest and “3” is lowest.

Behaviours that make a difference Priority
Create meaning and purpose and refer to it a lot
Show how the result is achieved, it matters as much as the result
Champion creation of winning recipes – so review and understand wins
Be clear on the values and behaviours you expect and role model them
Encourage the seeking and giving of performance focused feedback
Constantly improve your performance and share what you’re doing
Make sure all your rewards encourage the behaviours you want
Explain decisions and choices through purpose, values and behaviours
Make sure your processes and rituals encourage the culture you want
Invite collaboration and contribution to the culture from everyone

2. Look at the table below. We’ve listed the behaviours that show someone’s serious. Take your top 3 priorities and check you’re doing at least 3 things every week that show you’re serious.

Evidence I’m serious Priority 1 Priority 2 Priority 3 How often (daily, weekly, monthly)
I talk about it a lot
I measure it
I report on it
I’m always looking to improve at it
It’s high on my agendas
I celebrate it when it’s great
I get on it when it’s rubbish
It’s in everyone’s objectives
Standards around it are high
It’s clear I really care about it

3. Now look at the key components of a high performance culture in the table below. Write down the things you won’t accept because they represent a danger to your high performance culture. Then choose what you’ll do whenever you see, hear or feel them. The first 3 are completed as examples.

Culture component What I won’t accept What I’ll do when I see, hear or feel it
Our purpose matters New joiners unclear on our purpose Talk to their leader about why it matters
Our results matter Results that don’t reflect our ability Make sure we do what we need to do to close that gap
Our performance matters Rewarding results though performance was poor Challenge rewards that ignore performance
Our values matter
Our behaviours matter
Our attitude matters
What we reward matters
Using tools and processes that work matters
Getting the best talent matters

Your plan

Get a plan Stan. The basics you need to have in your plan are set out below.

Plan basics

  1. What are you going to do? This bit is easy – it’s the 3 things listed above. No 3 is particularly helpful here. If there’s anything else you need to do, jot it down here.

    My actions:

  2. When are you going to start? You don’t have to be great to get going, but you better get going if you want to be great.

    My start date:

  3. How often will you be reviewing it? Getting great has a lot to do with making things a habit.

    Check in dates:

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.