Building a Performance Culture

Building a performance culture starts with understanding that employees desire to GET something from your organization, as much as they want to give their best. It’s a 2-way street, just like any other relationship.

The mistake most leaders make is that they focus only on their half of the relationship, expecting, and in some cases, demanding performance. This never works, because mediocre performers always return to their ordinary levels of performance once the pressure is off. Conversely, if you hire high performers intentionally, you won’t need to motivate them to perform at their best, because they are intrinsically driven to do so without your guidance.

The truth is, as leaders we don’t want to manage staff performance. What we REALLY want is to hire and promote leaders who are intrinsically driven to perform. True performers excel, with or without our leadership, because of WHO THEY ARE, not because of what we expect.

So, the question in building a performance culture isn’t, “How do I drive performance?”, but instead, “How do I attract performers?” Here are 3 tips we’ve used to build a performance culture at Share On Purpose:

  • Authenticity Attracts: Promote who you are, at your company’s core, rather than who you want to be. True performers value honesty and directness, and probably have done enough of their own research anyway. In addition, they enjoy being a part of the solution, which means being part of performance improvement.

In addition, discuss openly what your guiding principles are, as well as how you’re living them. This is key, because true performers will ask those they encounter during the interview process, as to what your culture is. If your front-line talent team doesn’t know how to define your culture, it will turn performers off since they value authenticity and transparency.

As part of our effort to ensure transparency at Share On Purpose, we not only outline our Culture on our website, but have defined the Guiding Principles that make our culture work. These Guiding Principles were developed WITH our key leaders back in late 2013.

Starting in October, as CEO, I will dedicate one article per month to writing about each principle. In addition, we’ll share an honest assessment of how one of our leaders or team members is demonstrating this principle through another article. Although we’re far from perfect, we pride ourselves on striving for excellence and that includes promoting what our leaders are doing to live our brand.

Culture doesn’t happen because we put words on the website, or even on the wall. Culture, and in particular a performance culture, happens when you manage the company, its leaders and its associates to a set of guiding principles that make the culture authentic.

  • Together is More: Never forget, for a second, that true performers are recruited constantly by other organizations. If you want them to stay, build an organization worthy of their commitment. That requires building a relationship with them, investing in their development, and of course, listening to their feedback. Not only will this serve you in the good times, but it will also breed loyalty in the hard times.

Today, the job market is strong, and top performers inside most brands are looking for new roles outside their organization. Research shows that the reason they are doing this is because they don’t feel valued in their current organization, and/or they do not have a relationship with a top executive. Part of the reason why our executives dedicate 25% of their time to mentoring and developing performers is because we VALUE our current team as individuals, in addition to both their contribution, and future value.

The best advice I ever got from one of my mentors, my former CEO Burl Hogins, was to constantly “re-recruit” my best people. By meeting with them frequently, and learning about their passions and interests, I can ensure that I am supporting THEIR career ambitions, as well as my business goals. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. Thank you Burl.

  • Measure What Matters: When you hire performers, you don’t have to manage them. That’s the good news. But you do have to manage performance, just not for the reasons one may think. We measure what matters, not for our business, but for the leaders themselves. By letting leaders know where they are, in as many ways as possible, they will motivate themselves and their teams to improve results.

Now, I’m not advocating meaningless reports or needless management meetings. Just the opposite, in fact. Keep your meetings short (less than 30 minutes, if possible). Find ways to track meaningful statistics in every area of the business and share these statistics openly with your team. Let them know where they stand against the goals, and inspire them to achieve those goals. When you measure what matters, performers rise to the occasion. On their own.

Again, watch for future articles about our guiding principles and culture as we want to attract performers who fit our culture and who aspire to BE MORE.

If you’re ready to become part of a performance culture, and if these 3 tips sound like they fit who you are, check out our open positions. We’re always looking for smart, driven leaders.