Creating A High Performance Environment

by Joe Love - Date: 2007-01-27 - Word Count: 997 Share This!

Even the very best workplaces can always become better by focusing on six criteria: pay and benefits; opportunities for advancement; employee development and education; pride in work and the company; the degree of openness and fairness; and the level of camaraderie among employees.

In the Industrial Age companies looked at employees as an expense. In these traditional hierarchical companies when decisions needed to be made the issue traveled up the chain of command and decisions were made at the top. The implementation of this decision was then made by the people further down, who weren't likely to have much buy-in to the plan

However, in the Information Age companies must look at employees as investments. If an organization is going to be successful today it must create a high performance environment where everyone has access to the data that's needed for an informed decision, and employees must have the authority to carry out that decision. This ensures that decisions can be made and implemented right at the point where the work gets done.

High performance environments are made up of high-performance teams which in turn are characterized by having one particular character. Team players have a high level of cooperation, which is imperative. For example when a team player is asked to make sacrifices, they are flexible in their preferences.

Your team will have the best chance for succeeding long-term when you balance three important areas. First, your work systems, including your equipment, materials, facilities, work flow, technologies and anything else that helps you turn input into output.

The second important area involves your interpersonal systems, including anything affecting the work climate, such as leadership style, decision-making practices, communication structures, training, rewards and recognition.

The third involves external factors, including your customer's needs and expectations, the organization itself, changing markets, your suppliers and the competition. Many people tend to overlook this area, but keeping a focus on external factors in your day-to-day operations will ensure that your efforts are taking you in the right direction.

You cannot create an effective teamwork environment unless everyone in the organization feels empowered. Voluntary effort comes from employee commitment, and commitment comes from empowerment. Empowerment is a function of four important variables; authority, resources, information, and accountability.

In most organizations, tangible support for teamwork lags behind philosophical support, and that fact can discourage the team effort. External support and recognition are important in any endeavor. Individuals need to know they're valued as players on the team, but you don't want to encourage solo efforts or unhealthy competition. For that reason, the most effective rewards are tied to collective success.

You can set up a compensation plan by following three simple steps. First, establish a standard for measuring a specific element of your team's performance. Second, determine your team's present capability for exceeding that standard. Third, decide on a reward for team performance above and beyond that present capability. At that point, you can set a new performance standard and begin the cycle again.

Some specific methods for encouraging and rewarding team players include award, salary increases, incentive plans, public recognition and interesting new projects. Ask your team what makes them happy, what excites them, how would they like to celebrate the next worthy success. That's obvious, but if you haven't done it recently, give it a try, and listen to their suggestions.

Hiring practices have a large impact on building a high performance environment. To build a high performance environment you need people who can spot problems, consistently do high quality work on time, work across organizational boundaries and please the customers. When you only hire the cream of the crop, the best and brightest, you don't always get the most productive team players.

Clearly, it's not possible to turn every average worker into a star. The mix of work strategies may differ from profession to profession. However, compelling standards of excellence can enable people to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. That's especially true when the individual players on your team require one another to live up to the established standards of excellence. In addition, it's important for your team to push itself to consistently raise performance standards.

People who set standards of excellence for themselves believe they can control the events of their life. They act based on those standards, and they really do control their life because they take responsibility. That's the quality you want in the players on your team.

People who accept responsibility will act to make things right, because they believe it's in their power. They learn from their own mistakes. Companies need to reward intelligent failure. Otherwise, employees will simply find a "safe" way to do things and the quality effort will hit the wall.

You can enhance a sense of sharing in both failures and successes, and develop a sense of communion within your team by scheduling activities that bring individual players into regular contact with the team as a whole. Frequent gatherings reinforce the team's existence and meaning, regardless of the purpose of the gathering. These events make every player more involved in the group and provide them with a greater sense of belonging.

The late Sam Walton once asked, "Why do my managers seem to work so much harder than my employees?" Then suddenly it dawned on him that they were on a profit-sharing program, where there was an immediate connection and a vested interest on the part of managers who were willing to scurry around and pick up scraps of paper, serve the customers with a smile and make sure things were done on time and within budget!

The managers had a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions and it affected them personally.

This kind of empowerment, the feeling that each individual is a co-architect of substantial organizational changes, is what breeds commitment, trust, and helps workers reach new heights of excellence and achievement. The whole concept and belief in the process has to come from the heart. This is a true high-performance environment.

Copyright©2007 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related Tags: success, management, motivation, business success, strategic planning, achievement, personal success

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many businesses around the world, on the subjects of leadership, achievement, goals, strategic business planning, and marketing. Joe is the author of three books, Starting Your Own Business, Finding Your Purpose In Life, and The Guerrilla Marketing Workbook.

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