Aim Higher: How to Create a Performance Culture

performance culture

Create a performance culture


The word “culture” often comes with a lot of weight. We each grow up in our own culture. Sometimes more than one. In a world connected by rapid transportation and instant global communication and media, cultures overlap and combine in new, exciting, and sometimes complicated ways. We struggle to define what culture means for us as individuals and certainly as organizations.




Define Performance

When it comes to performance, however, I’m here to tell you that as a leader, the definition is up to you. That’s the first of my seven steps for creating a performance culture: leadership defines it–because performance can mean very different things for different organizations.

Are you in a growth year? Are you trying to expand your market share or cut costs? Do you need to hire quickly to fill some gaps or maintain current productivity with the staff you have? Are you preparing to launch a new product line or spending resources to lock-in current customers with your existing services?

As a leader, you need to have the overall picture of where your organization is headed. So, when you say, “This is what success looks like,” the team can picture it and then execute.

The shorthand that helps me keep this in mind is as follows: to your team, running in place feels a lot like running towards a destination if you don’t define performance for them.



Think about it. Why do many people run? For the exercise and health benefits. To feel and look better. For the endorphins and maybe to take a break and de-stress. If you told your team that running was a priority in their jobs, and asked them to track performance, they might come back with some great indicators. They’d show you how many steps they ran on the tread mill, heart rate and blood-pressure improvements, calories burned and maybe even weight lost over the last quarter.

But if all you really wanted was for them to run to a specific location as quickly as possible and return? They failed because YOU failed to define performance for the culture you want to create.



The other steps are important, too, and my guests and I hit on some good, practical advice that can help build a performance culture at each point of the program. But the first step is critical, and almost entirely up to you. What does performance look like? What are the measures of success you’ll look back on and celebrate? Get those clear in your own mind and the culture can flow from your leadership.

Listen to Aim Higher here




Image Credit: Immo Wegmann

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