There is much rhetoric within organizations and certainly lots written on the subject of achieving great performance. Much of this is insightful and well researched. Precious little of this, however, is really understood by most leaders and senior practitioners and still less is actually used! And so, organizations have ended up in a terrible bind on the subject of performance – needing to improve it more than ever, yet can’t seem to get much traction.
A significant part of the problem is the lack of a simple, accessible way to understand what is necessary to achieve great performance. To describe this we have clustered these factors into what we call the “Conditions for Great Performance”. That is, employees must Know What to do, be Able to do it, be Equipped to do it, Want to do it, and experience Interactions that foster trust, respect, integrity, collaboration and accountability. Having these conditions, or not having them in our organizations, is not a matter of choice.
Great Workplaces energize, support and satisfy. They are safe & healthy – physically, emotionally, and mentally. They enable performance at its best. And, they retain good employees. In a great workplace people willingly hold themselves accountable for efficiently, effectively and safely achieving great results.
Great workplaces don’t just happen. Leaders create and sustain them. They inspire shared purpose and enable action, they encourage the hearts of their people and expect great results, and, they develop themselves as a personal model of the change they want to see in others.
There are Five Conditions that influence great performance:
- Employees Know What to do. This means that everyone is crystal clear about the “Great Performance” that is expected of them, including the behavioural expectations – that is, not only what work gets done but also how it gets done. No assumptions. No guessing. Performance expectations and their measures have been discussed, clarified, agreed upon, communicated and understood, and they are aligned to organization vision, strategy and goals.
- Employees are Able to do it. This means that employees are truly capable to perform the work from a variety of perspectives, and they possess the personal attributes, traits and characteristics that “fit” the requirements of the work. Employees are competent, they have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to achieve the results required.
- Employees are Equipped to do it. Employees are provided the resources, business processes and procedures, organizational and IT systems, and the physical environment in which work is done. They have the information required to do the job as well as measurement data that lets people know how they are doing. People need to be clear about the scope and authority of their roles so that there is no confusion about “who does what around here” and how they are expected to work together to achieve the organization’s goals.
- Employees Want to do it. Great performance happens when people are willingness to hold themselves accountable for quality work and achieving agreed upon results. They know the contribution they make is valued and rewarded, that they are recognized for “doing the right things right” and are held accountable for performance shortfalls and inappropriate behavior. Leader support is crucial. A large part of employees feeling challenged, valued and recognized is up to themselves.
- Interactions are about the way we work together. They are the behaviors and personal conduct that create the emotional climate of the workplace. Positive, healthy Interactions support personal well-being, develop a respectful workplace, foster productive relationships and have a profound impact on performance outcomes.
Does Your Organization Stack Up: The Performance Culture Quick Audit
Here is an opportunity to use your knowledge and the experience of your organization to assess the performance culture that is typically experienced by employees in your organization/department.
Always begin by answering these questions for yourself, your team, or organization:
- To what organizational goals are we expected to contribute? How are they measured?
- What results are we accountable for accomplishing to make that contribution, and how will we measure them?
- What do we need to do well to produce those results (tasks, actions and interaction behaviors)?
To quickly get a status of the Conditions for Great Performance in your organization apply a 5-point rating scale (0=Strongly Disagree, 5=Strong Agree) against the Five Conditions. Once organized the audit data will show a continuum of weakness to strength in the performance and support being experienced by your employees.
Figure 1 The Performance Maximizer® illustrates how the Five Conditions are put to use.