What is a Performance Culture?

No matter what industry your company is in, a healthy company culture benefits the organization in a lot of ways. Talented employees will remain loyal to your company and work there for years to come. Your brand reputation gets a boost, along with productivity, employee engagement, and workplace happiness.

One way to cultivate a healthy, sustainable work environment is to build a culture of performance within your organization. A high-performance culture sets clear expectations and steps to succeed for its employees. That in turn creates trusting relationships between employees and management.

Read on to find out more about what makes a performance culture and how you can achieve that for your organization.

But first: what is company culture?

Let’s talk about what company culture is. You can simply define company culture as the accepted set of customs and behaviors in your office. How things get done and why they get done are influenced by company culture.

You probably hear “company culture” thrown around a lot, especially in relation to millennials. Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, which means their workplace values are king. Those include flexibility, opportunities for engagement and personal development, a meaningful purpose, and a company whose values align with their own.

Your own organization may not employ many millennials, or perhaps your values are slightly different, but it’s still important to know what kind of company culture is in demand right now.

Performance culture goes beyond perks and benefits

Don’t forget that company culture is more than what you get at face value. It’s not all about a company’s casual dress code, pay rate, free snacks, happy hours with teammates, or ping pong tournaments. Those are perks. And perks don’t define company culture alone.

Culture goes deeper than that. It informs how everyone in your company behaves: how they make choices, what they decide is important, how results are measured, what constitutes a “win,” and so on. If you want a high-performance culture, you’ll have to build it into your organization.

Define your company’s desired culture

In order to create a high-performance culture, you need to define what that means to you first. What does your culture look like now? What do you want it to look like in the future? How can your team make that happen?

To help you build a vision for your culture, here are some common qualities that high-performing companies might share:

  • Communication. From top to bottom, from employee to employee, and from organization to client, communication is key to running a business successfully.
  • Accountability. Everyone in the organization is responsible for their actions and ideas.
  • Teamwork. It’s essential no matter what industry your company is in.
  • Innovation. You can’t move forward without introducing new ideas into the mix.
  • Support. Employees trust leadership to give them what they need to succeed in their work. In turn, leadership supports the team as best they can.

If you’re not sure about some of these qualities, why not survey your employees and see what they think? How do they view company culture now? How would they like it to change for the better?

Figure out how to cultivate your chosen culture

Now that you’ve outlined your company’s values, it’s time to put them into action to create a high-performance culture. How exactly can you do that? Let’s take each of the aforementioned qualities in high-performance culture and explain ways you can integrate them into the workplace every day.

Communication

When important company-wide information is kept to certain departments or management, that can create an atmosphere of distrust. Encourage immediate communication and transparency when appropriate.

Accountability

Give employees ownership of their work and goals. Hold everyone accountable not only for their mistakes, but for their accomplishments, too. Be sure that leadership sets an example for the rest of the organization by taking responsibility for their actions.

Teamwork

Not everyone gets along all the time, so it’s unrealistic to expect perfect teamwork. However, you can foster it in your organization by providing a clear structure, defined roles, and simple objectives. Reward great performances. And of course, encourage team members to bond outside of the office, whether you go out to lunch as a group or participate in a fun group activity.

Innovation

Let employees offer their opinions and ideas to encourage innovation in your workplace. Genuinely consider the ideas that you can. Thank them for feedback. And if a particular idea makes it further along into planning and implementation, give that innovator the proper credit.

Support

You can’t do your job without the tools you need, whether that’s adequate training, clear directions, help from coworkers, or enough time to complete a project. If you’re a manager of a team, listen to what your employees need so they can be successful. If you’re an employee, support your coworkers when they need help. Understand what your manager needs from you so you can do your job well.

Follow through and commit to your culture

Once you’ve built your company values into your culture, it’s up to you to be disciplined and maintain those standards. Communicate your organization’s new values to the entire team so that everyone is on the same page. An all-hands meeting is a great place to do this, but don’t stop there. Check that your values are defined and explained on your company website, intranet, employee handbook, on a poster in the break room…you get the idea.

You can also keep building up your new performance culture by finding new talent with similar values. Find motivated, skilled jobseekers who already embrace your company’s new mindset. Not only will this new talent help enforce the organization’s values, they’re more likely to be happy working for your company. That decreases turnover and boosts employee morale.

Remember that a new performance culture isn’t built overnight; it takes practice, and everyone has to be on board. Have leadership set examples for otherwise. Reinforce positive behavior with praise and appreciation. Encourage commitment to your company’s values. Eventually, your new culture will become a habit, and “just the way things are done.”