Developing a High-Performance Culture?

Developing a High-Performance Culture?

Developing a High-Performance Culture?

In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy stated that he wanted to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade; a lofty goal. Senator George Smathers from Florida agreed with the “lofty goal” part.  So, before voting to secure funds for the initiative, he visited Cape Canaveral to do a bit of detective work on his own. After much time, observation, and questioning he still had not decided. 

At the end of the day he saw a worker cleaning up and asked what her job was.  The reply, “Oh, I’m part of a team that’s going to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade.”  Decision made—strategic alignment at its best!

We assume that all players know the organization’s charge—an assumption often unverified. That includes all elements of strategic intention: systems, processes, leadership and managements’ roles, responsibilities, and expectations, goals, key performance indicators—you know the drill.  But what happens when the stars are misaligned; when the systems and departments are uncoordinated? 

A simple fact, the more an organization’s systems and processes are aligned with its strategic intention the greater the opportunity for success. In fact, with a sound plan, it’s almost impossible to fail no matter how ambitious the organization or the plan—even if it includes sending a man to the moon.

How can you as leaders really know how effective your organization and its strategy are?  Rather than guess where the disconnects are, why not consider an instrument that pinpoints the strengths and limitations to support goal-directed actions in support of your strategic intention? Exactly what was needed to send a man to the moon and nothing less! Organizational assessments diagnose and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization.

How do you know if you properly allocate your organization’s resources? What are the alternatives in hidden costs, productivity, customer and employee satisfaction, and profits?  When an organization’s structure does not support its strategy, it is out of alignment and the strategy simply won’t work. You limp along or do ‘OK’, but are you really satisfied with the ‘OK” part?  Organizations that know how to identify the relationship between what they do and the results they seek can create uncontested market space significantly out pacing the competition

Getting Started:

First, do you agree that effective leaders determine what data are necessary and sufficient to manage critical measurements guaranteeing the success of the organization??  Second, are you committed to using this data to better allocate your resources to improve results? Third, are you willing to do the work and gather the data?

Selecting the Instrument:

Opt for one that has a proven record of accomplishment. A safe and wise bet is an assessment modeled after the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.  The results generated by Baldridge winners are consistent and astonishing.  The seven Baldridge categories are:

  1. Leadership – Creating and sustaining values, organizational direction, performance expectations, and customer focus.
  2. Strategic Planning – How the organization sets direction and implements its plan. 
  3. Customer Focus – Determines customer requirements and expectations and measures customer loyalty. 
  4. Information and Analysis – Understanding data and information for performance and improvement.
  5. Human Resources Development and Management – How employees maximize potential for performance excellence.
  6. Process Management – How processes are designed, managed, improved, and cycle times reduced.
  7. Business Results – Performance improvement in key business areas and how improvements are communicated.

These seven criteria are called the Criteria for Excellence and address all the elements for the health and survival of your organization. 

Why Business Leaders Don’t Do It?

Unbelievably, some leaders are afraid to hear the truth. We’ve been told: “Not interested.  We really don’t want to uncover issues that we are not prepared to face right now.” Sounds strange but true… kind of like favoring a doctor who touches up the X-Rays. “Yes! Your leg is broken, but I touched up the image. Now you’re fine. Good decisions (and the healing that follows) are impossible without an honest confrontation of the brutal facts. 

Who Should Conduct an Assessment?

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, consider assessing your organization:

  • Profitability is slipping 
  • Customers defect
  • High employee turnover
  • Eroding market share
  • You spend more time reacting to competition than leading the way.
  • Internal conflict is the order of the day, excessive meetings, lack of personal accountability, communication breakdown, time management issues, reactive rather than proactive thinking (shall I continue?).

Or the best reason of all… You just want to improve!

Grant Stewart