For as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to organizations and teams that have a performance culture. To me, this means an organization or team whose values, behaviors, rituals, and even role models demonstrate a pursuit of excellence. They are clear on their purpose and it is always about the positive impact they can make on others and the value they can create as a product of their success. Today, on the heels of so many having to work remotely due to the pandemic, we hear every day how organizations and team cultures have been challenged and strained.
As I reflect on this trend, I can clearly see how important proximity and in-person human interaction can be. Yet, ironically, so many of the critical elements to the DNA of a performance culture still exist whether we are working remotely, distributively, or in the same office. The red thread that connects all of these ways of working is the need for Sustainable High Performance. Regardless of where and how I work, the need for me to show up at my best, to be purposeful in my ability to multiply the energy of those around me (both at work and at home), and to be mentally agile, resilient, and adaptable must always be a priority.
Having been a part of and/or coached hundreds of high performing teams, a couple of significant differentiators between higher performing and lower performing teams stand out. First, they started with the non-negotiable purpose of the team as their focus. They didn’t focus on just the culture alone. They made their purpose the focus and created a performance culture to get there. This nuance is often missed as many teams and organizations lose track and suddenly see the purpose of their existence to make work fun, happy, and engaging rather than to create excellence. Don’t get me wrong, making a huge positive impact and doing great work should be fun and engaging, but these things alone do not drive value.
High performance cultures value human sustainability. They accept that there is a mountain to climb to achieve their success, but they never accept that leaving dead bodies (metaphorically speaking) along the climb is okay. They understand that with the right behaviors and rituals, there is no reason that as well as making it to the summit of the mountain, that every person on the team can’t be 10% stronger, smarter, and more capable at the summit.
Similarly, they expect personal preparation. This means that everyone owns the need to show up at their best so they can add value. Sustainable High Performers show up ready to make an impact with the physical, cognitive, and emotional energy to contribute to the outcome. They know that meetings and gatherings are costly endeavors (time, money, energy), but they also know these are opportunities to multiply impact if done properly. They have clear intentions, they know why they are there, they are present, and they are ready to contribute. This doesn’t happen by chance; it is a purposeful choice.
A performance culture is contagious and in many ways an energy multiplier to everyone involved. I see my teammates come into a meeting (in person or virtual), and I can see that they have a performance mindset that is focused, prepared, present, collaborative, compassionate, and solution-oriented. I can feel that they have my back and support me as an individual through the way they give me feedback, notice my contributions, and encourage my recovery. There is little, if any, drama as Sustainable High Performers assume the best intentions in others and constantly look for practical ways to move forward toward success.
The world is changing at such a rapid pace and sometimes it may feel like you can never be fully prepared for what may come next. At TIGNUM, we understand this feeling, but we also recognize that teams and organizations that have a performance culture, made up of Sustainable High Performers who are mentally agile, resilient, adaptable, and multipliers of energy, create opportunities in times of chaos. They have the ability to pivot quickly, to creatively problem solve rapidly, and they get stronger from the stress and challenges they face. To me, nothing could be more fun and engaging than this. This is why an organization or team that has a performance culture rarely fails.
As always, we would love to hear what you think.