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Viewpoint - Bob Gershberg - November 2022

Building a High-Performance Culture

By Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner, Wray Executive Search

It is the mission of most leaders to build a high-performance culture, particularly when teeing up for substantive growth. The long revered strategic plan may forge a path, but truth be told, its course loses direction when the need to scramble rears its head.  A strong and focused talent strategy is paramount in creating a high-performance culture. People policies drive strategy. Leaders must own employee engagement.

Instilling an unwavering sense of pride, having a concrete mission along with clear guiding principles will help ensure high performance. Winning organizations are typically performance oriented, purpose driven and principles led. Talent needs to be sourced, engaged and developed in order to execute vision and business strategy. A collaborative culture is engaging and energizing but let your eagles soar.

Top performers are looking for a greater sense of meaning in their work. No company can build a coherent culture without people who either share its core values or possess the willingness and ability to embrace those values. According to Charles Ellis, as noted in his book, What it Takes: Seven Secrets of Success from the World’s Greatest Professional Firms, the best firms are “fanatical about recruiting new employees who are not just the most talented but also the best suited to a particular corporate culture.” And as an added benefit, Steven Hunt notes at that one study found applicants who were a cultural fit would accept a 7% lower salary, and departments with cultural alignment had 30% less turnover. People stick with cultures they like,and bringing on the right “culture carriers” reinforces the culture an organization already has.

Leadership in high-performance cultures does not reside only at the top of the organization. It must emerge from, and trickle down to, those in all leadership or customer interaction roles. Leadership must be combined with strategy; it must be ongoing, consistent and grounded in on-the-job learning. The results of these efforts will be improved business growth, leadership alignment, enhanced leadership and management strategies, and a cultural shift to an environment of accountability and commitment.

Experience tells us that most people want an opportunity to demonstrate their competence, to contribute and to learn. When given the chance to focus on what they are best at, they will over-deliver. They want to work in organizations known for service excellence. They want to be listened to, respected and engaged in change. The degrees of need or preference will vary and they play out differently, but they are common to human development. Responding to them strengthens a performance culture.

Human performance is the function of many influences: accountability, feedback, motivation, skills and knowledge, rewards and recognition. These influences are interdependent. It is the combination of these factors that results in the desired performance and the associated leadership behaviors that support the performance culture. Creating a performance culture requires a systemic approach to managing the performance of organizations, teams and individuals. The benefits to all are astronomical.

Great leaders develop a distinctive culture in short order creating a trickle down which is something to behold.  Passion begets passion as momentum trumps challenge.  The magic of growth propels an organization to levels of incredible accomplishment when the team is in sync.  Our industry is flush with folks who are at their very best when they’ve a bit more on their plates than one can typically handle.  Building the team so as to stay a touch ahead of the growth without creating unwarranted fiscal pressure and worse yet human complacency is a balancing act only the best can master.

People are our greatest asset.  We are well advised to match talent to the required competencies and skill sets, but greatness is attained when we fit those who share the vision, embrace the mission and grow with us each day.  Be mindful of the fact that people like what they are good at and are good at what they like.  Give them the power to soar!

All the best,

Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|

(888) 875-9993 ext 102

Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!

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