When building a house, it starts with forming a solid foundation upon which everything else sits. You can build the nicest house in the world, but if the foundation isn’t solid, it won’t sustain itself over time. Businesses work the same way. You may see success early on, but unless there is a foundation to support success, a company may not be around for long.
It’s why we see so many storeys about start-ups that burn brightly and then burn out. Building a sustainable high-performance team requires a consistent commitment from leadership to organisational excellence.
Factors Influencing Organisational Performance
Many factors impact the performance of an organisation, including mission, vision, structure, processes, and people. There is often an assumption made in companies that changing one of these factors will have a positive effect on the others. While this can work, changing a company’s structure or processes in the hope of changing people’s behaviour can often produce the opposite result.
To understand why, you have to examine how a business is built. Imagine the organisation as that house. The mission and vision make up the foundation upon which everything else is built. The walls make up your structure and processes which dictate activity within the organisation. The roof might represent the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you use to measure success.
The walls are building blocks for an effective organisation. Clear structure and standardised processes help employees become more efficient and productive. However, they don’t lead to organisational excellence on their own.
When businesses want to improve their performance, they might rebuild the walls, replace the roof, or fix up the inside. It’s an important step in the process and may be necessary to evolve over time. However, just like a house, you can change the walls, the roof, or redesign the interior of your house, but it won’t make up for a faulty foundation.
High-Performance Teams Require More
70% of business transformations fail. True change requires individuals to behave differently. Just because you repainted or rebuilt a wall doesn’t mean the people inside that house will act differently. If employees are indifferent about their work, you can change the processes and systems all you want, but it isn’t going to create a high-performance team.
Organisations that only change the supports for the house fail to account for the activity that takes place inside the house. They aren’t paying attention to the foundational culture and the people that have to deliver performance.
While the structure and process are important, the key to sustainable success is managing employe behaviour. Behaviour impacts everything from meetings to discussions to productivity. While process and structure say the same, interactions are not linear. A simple comment can profoundly change team dynamics. For example, remarks made by one team member during a meeting can have a direct effect on other team members.
Let’s say a new idea is presented at a meeting. One team member might react positively while another team member responds negatively. These reactions might cause dissension, irritation, or division within a team. It can foster tribalism. Some may ignore it all and stay focussed on goals, but that can also create frustration for those that have alined themselves on one side or the other. Others may simply disengage completely.
Business leaders must recognise the myriad of interconnected actions that occur within complex organisations. It’s not possible to guide every interaction either, so companies must build a foundation to govern and guide behaviour. Creating an environment that promotes positive behaviour and keeps employees focussed on the mission is essential for creating a high-performing team, with motivated team members.
Behaviour + Structure + Process = High Performing Teams
By taking your organisation’s behaviour into account, you will better understand people’s individual concerns, needs, and talents. You will see how these patterns impact your company’s structure and processes. Addressing behaviour, processes, and structure together helps ensure everyone in your organisation is primed for optimal success.
If you want to create a high-performing team and create organisational excellence, business leaders must create alignment within the organisation so that everyone is vested in meeting company goals.
8 Steps to Improve Organisational Excellence
Following the steps can help you on your way to organisational excellence.
1. Define Your Mission and Values
Organisational excellence requires a more holistic approach, which again, starts with the foundation. Effective companies clearly define their mission, values, and goals so that everyone understands them.
This goes beyond creating a mission statement of forward-looking ideals. This requires you to spend the time forming and articulating your messaging and break it down so that every team member understands how their role contributes to goal attainment.
2. Communicate Consistently
The goals and mission of the organisation must be communicated in multiple ways to be successful. It’s not a one-and-done thing. Even for top performers, business leaders must continue to communicate about the mission often and re-enforce them by connecting tasks to the mission.
They also must ensure company decisions aline with company goals. One of the fastest ways to demoralise a staff is to make decisions that run counter to stated goals.
3. Strategic Hiring
Effective hiring will improve efficiency and reduce turnover — if you hire the right people. You must ensure that those inside your walls are the right fit for your organisation. Job fit goes beyond experience and skill sets.
4. Establishing Trust & Respect
Relational trust is crucial for organisational excellence. Team members have to trust what others say and that the organisation means what they say. Without a foundation of trust and respect, rarely can individuals overcome organisational challenges.
This requires frequent conversations and two-way feedback, active listening, and addressing concerns and challenges openly and promptly.
5. Empowering Employees
Employees must be empowered to make decisions within company frameworks rather than have to ask for permission from supervisors. Employees should be actively encouraged to play a role in the decisions that impact their work and take ownership of their actions. This also builds trust and respect.
6. Workplace Optimisation
Another foundational aspect for high-performance organisations is creating a workplace that allows employees to succeed. While a nice, inviting workplace is a good thing, what’s most important is that employees have the tools they need to do the job and are treated like colleagues more than subordinates.
7. Employe Development
One of the biggest challenges organisations have is a lack of employe engagement. Even talented workers can become disaffected when they don’t feel supported or provided with opportunities to grow. Continued development in teams and team members is a crucial part of building a high-performance team.
There’s another benefit, too. In today’s high turnover environment, 94% of employees say they would stay with their organisation longer if there was more of an emphasis on learning and helping employees grow.
8. Investing in Team Members
Considering your employees play a pivotal role in company success, it’s concerning that nearly half of all employees feel that company leadership does not genuinely care for them as people. If companies are asking employees to produce their best work, they must also invest in team members and make them feel as important to company success as they truly are.
Building a More Solid Foundation for Operational Excellence
Each of these steps builds a more solid foundation upon which high-performing companies are built. Having the right company culture is a fundamental requirement for today’s new generation of employees
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