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Building a performance culture requires changes and efforts to lift the company from mediocrity.

Below, we take a closer look at a series of efforts that must be made in such a transformation process.

The article “4 Preconditions for a Performance Culture” considered the underlying prerequisites for building a disciplined performance culture. This article examines nine additional steps to creating a culture that delivers excellent performance over time.

1. What is good performance?

All employees, middle managers, and senior executives must know what constitutes good and poor performance. It applies to all business areas, including sales, marketing, customer service, finance, administration, procurement, logistics, etc.

It is demanding to exemplify and clarify what constitutes good performance, but it’s necessary.

2. What is the desired culture?

Culture drives behaviour, choices, and efforts—and the company’s values strongly influence culture.

The company must establish clear guidelines for the behaviour associated with the established values. Desired behaviour should be rewarded and encouraged, while undesired behaviour should be confronted and adjusted. It must be crystal clear what type of behaviour is expected, and it must be clear that all behaviour is measured against these expectations.

3. Set challenging but achievable goals

Humans love to strive for challenging goals—it motivates, stimulates, and brings out the best in us. But there’s a fine line between challenging, achievable, and inspiring goals and unattainable, unrealistic, and discouraging goals.

4. Bring out the lighthouses!

The right employees must be in place to build a performance culture. The most essential employees are your lighthouses.

A lighthouse should pave the way and show that challenging goals are achievable with a solid effort and that good attitudes and support for company guidelines create a performance culture. Once someone has achieved a difficult goal, criticism from mediocre individuals about unrealistic goals subsides.

The lighthouses set the standard that others can measure themselves against and create a breeding ground for everyone to elevate their performance. It also becomes clear who is not performing.

We see it clearly in the sports world, where lighthouses in a given sport set the standard for what constitutes the best performance. Similarly, a salesperson who consistently exceeds tough budgets month after month, regardless of circumstances and market fluctuations, is a similar lighthouse.

5. Maintain 360-degree focus

In a performance culture, heavy investment in people is necessary.

Everyone should have good onboarding, ongoing training, mentorship programs, and coaching. They should periodically undergo structured and well-functioning training programs. Just as athletes train to perform, employees and managers must do the same.

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6. Interrupt employment with negative culture bearers

As mentioned, the right people are essential in a performance culture. Therefore, it’s evident that those who do not perform cannot be part of the team.

Despite having all the help the company can provide, people who do not deliver over time must be helped to find other work.

It is demotivating for talented employees to deal with colleagues who do not deliver. The same goes for employees who perform okay but are time and energy-consuming for colleagues.

Terminating employees who do not perform or steal time and energy from others may seem ruthless, but it is a prerequisite to introducing a performance culture. In the world of sports, you’re also off the team if you don’t make an effort and don’t deliver results.

7. Create ownership mentality

The company must heavily invest in giving middle managers and employees ownership of the company’s mission, vision, values, goals, strategies, and processes.

Everyone should know what the company does, its purpose, and how it operates.

Each employee should understand the significance of their contribution to overall performance.

Ownership and engagement from employees are prerequisites for a performance culture. A lack of enthusiasm destroys strong performances.

8. Ensure visibility of numbers

Employees should be trained to understand the company’s key figures at all levels and have access to these figures as far as possible.

Employees who want to perform love numbers that show how to achieve their goals. Numbers are feedback that tells us where we stand and enable us to adjust our efforts along the way. Numbers allow us to work more factually to reduce guesswork, emotional leadership, and effort.

It is worth noting that you should not have a dogmatic relationship with numbers. The path from good, performance-enhancing, and numerically targeted to bureaucratic and performance-wise rule-based governance can be short.

Sources of error in data collection and measurement can result in precision being too low to place all emphasis on the numbers. A holistic approach is often more appropriate, where numbers are part of the decision-making basis but are compared with other factors such as experience, assessment, and intuition.

9. Remember to celebrate successes – every time!

In a performance culture, concentration and effort are high. So it’s important to celebrate milestones and victories achieved. Such celebrations promote employees’ reasonable efforts, lift morale, and maintain progress.

Such a celebration is also a momentous occasion for those who are not pulling their weight to reflect and choose to either dramatically improve their own performance or find something else to do. It’s not fun to be in a performance organization without doing one’s part—and it shouldn’t be.