The importance of a company’s culture can't be overstated. Organizations now understand the impact that company culture can have on day-to-day operations, brand image, and ultimately, profits. By not actively working to create a high-performance company culture, leaders inadvertently create a culture that encourages inefficiency, poor problem-solving, and in-the-box thinking. Companies that play an active role in shaping company culture, on the other hand, are far more likely to create a culture that encourages innovation, inclusivity, and excellence.
A high-performance culture is one that guides employees toward becoming the best team they can be without the use of heavy-handed approaches. Employees within a high-performance culture feel empowered and care about sales figures and how the organization performs as a whole. Creating a high-performance culture isn't always easy, but it's almost always worth the time and effort a company puts into it.
Elements of a High-Performance Culture
Teams consist of a group of individuals that collaborate in order to achieve the same goal. The highest performing teams, however, aren't just a group of people working on a task. High-performing teams possess a mixture of numerous traits that help them achieve outcomes that go far beyond set goals, and a high-performance company culture pushes teams to give their best and produce greater results.
What is the difference between a high-performance culture and one that has room for improvement? Efficiency and better profits are some measures one can use to determine how well a company's culture performs, but they aren't the only important aspects of a company's culture. Some of the most important elements of a high-performance company culture include:
According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), employee empowerment involves giving employees opportunities and resources that allow them to work independently and problem-solve on their own. This looks more like employees working on their own projects as they see fit instead of managers assigning specific projects with a detailed outline to employees. Many companies find that once they help their employees feel more empowered, their turnover rates go way down relatively quickly.
Employers that bark orders at their employees and hand-hold them through every process often make employees feel like helpless little kids, making them seek employment elsewhere. Employers that instead make employees feel like a trusted, valuable part of the team are far more likely to bring out the best in their employees, and experience a significantly lower turnover rate.
Agility and Flexibility
Although it's important to have employee manuals and conduct certain operations by the book, not everything within a workplace has to be so rigid. This goes back to employee empowerment- employees that feel suffocated by intense policies and rules will have less room to grow and feel as though they are making a difference. A workplace with little room for flexibility also stifles creativity and collaboration, which can help companies innovate and improve over time.
Of course, there is a need for workplace standards and expectations, especially for certain systematic practices and jobs. But giving your employees more flexibility, whether allowing them to work from home some days of the week or choosing their own hours when possible, can work wonders in making them feel much more happy and satisfied with their jobs. As Oxford University found, happy employees are about 13% more productive.
Trust can be difficult to earn and easy to lose. This is true when it comes to organizations attempting to build trust with their customers, but it's especially true for companies and their employees. Trust is a contract, spoken or unspoken, between people that permits them to articulate their expectations. It gives people a space to feel safe, be vulnerable, give and receive feedback, and respectfully disagree with one another.
Employees that feel supported because of their employer's policies and workplace culture are far more likely to put in as much effort as possible. They trust that their company will take care of them if they do their best, and that mutual understanding and respect is essential for any workplace that wants to create a high-performance culture.
Inclusion and Collaboration
Inclusion and collaboration drastically improve organizations in numerous ways. When each and every team member truly feels a sense of belonging and support, collaboration becomes more effective and fluid, which leads to higher productivity and better overall results. Inclusion is often tied to diversity, but they are distinctly different concepts. Inclusive cultures are ones that ensure that people from different groups have a seat, and a voice, at the table, or opportunities to participate and contribute. These environments also encourage people with all different perspectives and experiences to share their ideas. Giving everyone on your team a voice, along with the right environment to share, provides better opportunities to collaborate and solve problems.
Including people from different backgrounds and roles within the company in the collaboration process can also make a significant difference in the ideas proposed and the practices that emerge from them. For example, it's hard for executives to come up with solutions for the problems that junior teams face if they have never worked in those positions.
Leadership sets the tone for a team to be high-performing. Leaders that are demanding and unapproachable often see high turnover rates as employees quickly become burnt out. Conversely, leaders who are approachable and able to inspire their teams help foster an environment that creates resilient teams. Resilient teams can better deal with failures and setbacks and are more innovative and successful over the long haul.
Examples of High-Performance Cultures
Some companies are known for having a less-than-ideal workplace culture, while others are revered for their unique approaches toward building the type of high-performance cultures that leave us in awe. Two notable workplaces that have successfully implemented high-performance cultures include Netflix and Zappos.
Netflix absolutely changed the way we consume content, from sending DVDs in the mail to being able to stream our favorite shows instantly over the internet. NPR interviewed the Netflix CEO and co-founder, Reed Hastings, who has implemented a "no rules" policy at Netflix. No rules means that there is no dress code, unlimited vacation days, and no need to ask for approval for business expenses. This sounds counterintuitive, as many would assume that employees would abuse those policies. This type of company culture has made employees feel empowered, which has helped the company stay on the cutting edge of streaming and entertainment.
Anyone who has ever gone online to look at shoes has probably ended up on the Zappos website at least once. Zappos has grown exponentially since it first began in 1999 as ShoeSite.com. Zappos is known as a quirky company that does everything it can to "wow" the customer. This often includes free returns, free next-day shipping, and the widely-recognized support team that is there for customers, no matter what they need. The company has been profitable for a long time, though that wasn't always the main focus.
Tony Hsiesh, the company's CEO from 1999 to 2020, once famously stated, "We're willing to give up short-term profits or revenue growth to make sure we have the best culture." Business Insider reports that one key way Zappos created a high-performance culture was to offer $2,000 to employees to leave the company after undergoing training if they were unhappy. Most people who reached that point chose to stay instead of accepting the money, which helped recruit the types of people that genuinely cared about the company and everyone involved in it.
Putting people first, whether customers or employees, can go a long way in developing a high-performance culture with higher profits and lower turnover costs.
High-Performance Cultures Start with High- Performance Teams
Shifting your company culture to a high performance one takes thought, effort, and time. Although it's an entirely worthwhile endeavor, some companies choose not to pursue it because of the investments in time and money, not seeing how it can pay off in the long run. Companies that do put in an effort to foster a high-performance culture will be rewarded with better efficiency, lower turnover, and dozens of other benefits.
If you're ready to elevate your team's performance and strengthen its working dynamics, a comprehensive team development platform like RallyBright can help. To learn how we help teams identify strengths and weaknesses and then follow a roadmap to improvement, sign up for a free demo.