Staffing Management

How Do We Build a High-Performance Organization?

By Staff Report

Jul. 14, 2015

Dear Starting from Scratch,

Building a high-performance organization means successfully outperforming one’s competitors for the long haul. But, how exactly is this done? By looking at key characteristics of high-performing organizations, a blueprint for achieving long-term success emerges. I like to think of this in five steps, along with the “common traps” to avoid.

Step One: Ensure the organization understands and leverages its core capabilities.

This step requires some self-reflection on the part of the organization. What are its mission, vision and values (i.e., who we are, where we want to be, and what matters to us along the way)? This information will serve as the roadmap for the strategic planning that is to come in step two.

Common Trap: Senior leaders create “statements” that are either never disseminated or are decreed in such a way that employees do not fully understand or embrace the organization’s direction and ideals.

Step Two: Identify where the organization wants to be and have a clear strategy for getting there.

Data should be analyzed to better understand what makes the organization successful today (i.e., what we do well) and to identify improvements that will ensure success in the future (i.e., what we need to change to maintain competitive advantage).

Common Trap: Organizations assume what got them this far will help them stay ahead in the future. Yet, high-performing organizations realize that reinventing themselves or their offerings often becomes essential for future growth.

Step Three: Ensure the organization’s structure, people, policies and processes support and align with this strategy.

Once an organization has a clear idea of where it is headed, it can also identify what resources it needs to get there. High-potential organizations see clear linkages between how they attract and retain talent, how they structure and organize their talent and how policies and processes enable their talent to achieve strategic objectives.

Common Trap: Organizations focus too heavily on culture (i.e., what it is like to work here) or structure (i.e., how we break down levels to get the work done) and fail to recognize the intersection of the two. High-performing organizations recognize the value of teamwork and ensure that the structure facilitates collaboration throughout the organization.

Step Four: Anticipate change and map contingency plans to adapt to these changes (both internal and environmental changes).

Although the type and rate of change may vary greatly, all organizations undergo some measure of change. By taking steps to better understand the restrictions, constraints, threats and opportunities within the environment/industry as well as within the organization itself, high-performing organizations position themselves well for long term success.

Common Trap:While organizations see adapting to change as a reactive process, high-performing organizations take a proactive stance investing in things that foster creativity and innovation.

Step Five: Invest in your people because they will help you achieve steps one through four. Identify key performance indicators, or KPIs, to track progress and reactions to change.

High-performing organizations recognize that their employees are their greatest asset; therefore, they invest in developing solid selection systems (e.g., pre-employment tests, structured interviews) and development strategies (e.g., training, leadership assessments for development and coaching) to secure and retain top talent.

Common Trap: Organizations fail to plan for “how we will know how we are doing” against the overall strategy. Tracking progress is achievable if the organization has set both short and long-term specific, measurable, and challenging yet achievable goals. KPIs (e.g., quarterly sales, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement) can be tracked to help quantify the outcomes of the organization’s efforts toward lasting change.

SOURCE: Rebekah Cardenas, vice president of business development and assessment solutions, EASI Consult, St. Louis, July 10, 2015.

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