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Blog·Company Culture

January 27, 2021

5 Steps to a High-Performance Culture

A high-performance culture will help boost employee experience and company performance. Follow these 5 steps to build a high-performance culture.

Company culture (or organizational culture) is defined differently for every business. It encompasses everything from a company's values and beliefs, to how it treats its employees. It is the personality of the organization that impacts its strategic objectives, leadership style and operational policies. Having a high-performance culture is crucial to company success.

94% of executives and 88% of employees say organizational culture is crucial to the company's success.

high performance culture

When a company culture is focused on performance, all areas of the organization will benefit. There will be better engagement, retention and higher productivity. Moreover, recent research has shown that companies who effectively manage performance produce much better financial results than those who do not. In this article, we outline the five steps you need to follow to create a high performance work culture.

What is a high-performance culture?

A high-performance culture is a set of values, beliefs and behaviors that enable an organization to achieve excellent results and a high level of growth.

High-performance cultures establish effective performance processes and prioritize them at all levels of the organization, creating a working environment most conducive to growth. By expressing your company culture through your people processes, HR departments can consistently achieve excellent and support employees on their professional journeys.

high-performance culture definition

Why is high-performance culture important?

Having a high-performance culture boosts overall organizational performance - and there are many factors that contribute to this. Firstly, a performance culture encourages employees to feel empowered and therefore achieve their best work. Employees working in this environment will be more productive, engaged and motivated.

A high-performance culture focuses on employee growth and development, as well as encouraging employees to experiment and innovate. This will improve overall organizational agility and accelerate the implementation of change.

What's more, employees that are engaged with their company's culture are far more likely to stay in their role for longer, improving retention rates.

Benefits of a high-performance culture

benefits of a high performance culture

  • Increased engagement and productivity
  • Encourage innovation and skills development
  • High employee retention
  • Improved overall performance

How do you promote a high-performance culture?

5 steps to a high performance culture

1. Communicate the "Big Picture"

The first step to establishing a high-performance culture is communicating the "big picture" to employees. It is important to define the purpose of your organization (its mission and set of values) and then connect the people to this purpose.

A study on Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance suggests that when purpose is communicated with clarity, individual and financial performance improve.

Employees need feel a sense of purpose in their tasks, and see how their role and responsibilities feed into the overall business success. Purpose-driven employees will be more engaged, and will be able to work more independently and effectively.

It is also essential to communicate the benefits of a performance driven culture to staff. Through this, managers and employees can internalize a new mindset focused on performance and growth. Helping employees understand the relationship between a high-performance culture and their own personal growth will motivate them to achieve their goals.

Another way to do this is to involve employees in developing the organization's purpose. This can be achieved through company culture surveys, town-hall meetings (in person or virtual) or establishing cross-functional advisory team.

2. Set inspiring and ongoing goals

To help build a high performance organization, it is important to set inspiring, ongoing goals that encourage high-performance behaviors. Senior teams should set goals that resonate with business continuity and remain relevant despite changing circumstances. The focus should be on output rather than input - results should be rewarded over hours worked.

Senior teams should set goals that resonate with business continuity and that remain relevant at all times despite changing circumstances. The focus should also be on output rather than input - results should be rewarded over hours worked.

It is also vital to clearly define expectations at the individual, team, departmental and company level. Organizations should have a standardized approach to goal setting, make company objectives visible, and cascade them down through the organization. This will ensure that employees link their individual goals to the overarching business objectives and align with the organization.

Cascading goals in this way ensures that the company direction is transparent. This ensures a clear line of sight, encouraging employees to be more autonomous. Cascading goals promotes "big-picture" thinking and will empower employees with a broader sense of purpose.

high performance culture set inspiring goals

3. Encourage innovation and experimentation

To achieve a high-performance culture, leaders need to embrace innovation, creativity and experimentation at all levels. They need to create an environment where employees are encouraged to be curious and experiment, without fear of being penalized for failure. This helps people see mistakes as opportunities for learning, and then they are able to successfully innovate and perform better.

Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft encourage their employees to innovate and experiment, and we can learn from their success. For example, Google has an "innovation policy" where all employees can spend up to 20% of their working hours on their own projects. Such freedom enabled the creation of Google Maps, Gmail and Google News.

Whilst some companies cannot provide such policies to their employees due to time and budget constraints, they can still encourage innovation by stretching employees outside of their comfort zone. For example, provide opportunities to make mistakes, train employees to communicate new ideas and establish online community forums to discuss new projects.

By providing employees with the opportunity to learn, innovate and experiment, you will allow them to independently improve their performance.

4. Establish confidence with continuous feedback

There is a strong correlation between regular feedback and high performance. Effective performance feedback will help employees grow and develop, learn new skills and achieve success on both a personal and company level. To achieve a high-performance culture, leaders must embrace a feedback culture where positive and useful feedback conversations are encouraged throughout the organization.

Both formal and informal feedback should be utilized, but informal, continuous feedback is the most effective. Feedback should be spontaneous, about a specific incident, and a two-way interaction between the employee and manager. Provide informal feedback training to managers to develop their coaching and mentoring techniques, and encourage them to give timely feedback (both positive and constructive) to their teams.

Multi-directional feedback is also a key ingredient of a high-performance culture. Feedback should be given "top down" from managers to their direct reports, and "bottom up" from employees back to their managers and the senior leadership team.

It is important to embrace a wide range of feedback methods, and encourage employees and managers to give feedback regularly. This is encourage a growth mindset and create a high performance culture.

high performance culture continuous feedback

Learn more about continuous feedback by watching our webcast, How to Enable a Feedback Culture

5. Set a common-place for tracking and measurement

The next step is to effectively track and measure company culture with an online system. Culture surveys inform leaders about their employees' experiences, and help identify areas of cultural strength and weakness. They can also be used to evaluate the impact of strategic efforts on employee mindset and morale.

Surveys are a great way to ensure that culture initiatives are data-driven and that improvements can be measured over time. Once you have gathered feedback from the survey(s), use it to adapt and improve your initiatives, and introduce new ones. Culture surveys are the basis for continuous improvement and will help you to build a truly high performing culture with a focus on excellence.

Check out our Top 10 Company Culture Survey questions to get you started


Key takeaways

Shifting the culture of any organization takes time, effort, and commitment - but it should start with a new strategic vision from senior leaders. By following the steps outlined above, you will be able to transform your business by creating a high performance culture.


Need help planning your company culture survey? Check out our page on surveys and tools to measure and manage employee engagement here.

Want to transform your company culture and achieve great results? Book a demo with PeopleGoal today.

Further Reading

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