Article: Culture: the fundamental pillar of a high-performance organization


Culture: the fundamental pillar of a high-performance organization

A look at culture as one of the founding pillars of a high-performance organization.
Culture: the fundamental pillar of a high-performance organization

Culture drives business results in any organization. A culture that encourages innovation, new ideas, transparency and provides a platform for exchange of knowledge across different levels of the organization is the one that leads to a high-performing organization. 

A high-performance culture is nothing but a set of behaviors, norms and commonly accepted practices that enables employees and leaders to strive for excellence. It is a cultural guideline to unlock the potential from employees and ensure that they are the most productive and oriented towards growth. 

A high-performance culture is reflected through the organizational structure, the people  processes, the trust, the mechanisms in place to inculcate innovation and continuous learning, and transparency within the various tiers of the company. 

Culture can also be considered to be the “immune system” that keeps unwanted and culturally unfit people, processes, and structures at bay and prevents any sort of wrongdoing in the workplace, according to Michael Watkins, Professor of Leadership & Organizational Change, International Institute for Management and Development, and the author of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. 

A high-performance organization has a culture that is aligned towards getting the most and the best out of all the available resources at hand. 

Some major traits of a high-performance culture include: 

Collaborative teams

A major feature of a HPO is that the teams work as a team in its true sense. There is a sense of responsibility towards the business goal and the focus is on innovation. In order to move from an average-performing organization to becoming a high-performing company in the industry, the leadership and HR fraternity needs to establish a sense of belonging and the sentiment of having a meaningful purpose for the work at hand. When employees feel that they belong to a team and are engaged in work that is making a difference in the world, they are more likely to find solutions to the challenges and be unafraid to seek help and tap into relevant expertise whenever required and whenever available. 

Collaborative teams that are open to sharing their knowledge and are courageous enough to break down the conventional mindset of working in silos are the ones that are going to be instrumental in the development of the business. 

Knowledge sharing  

No idea is too big or too small. Providing a safe space where ideas are exchanged freely and new innovations have a chance to express falls under the culture building aspect of an HR leader’s purview. In companies such as Apple, Amazon, new ideas are encouraged and employees of all levels can voice their strategies and solutions and this extends to all the platforms. When an employee feels heard and that her or his ideas are taken seriously by the management and the team, then they are more likely to become more engaged and productive within the organization. Thus, leading to a high-performance oriented behavior. 

Transparent processes 

Clear and open communication is key to building any relationship. The same goes for the relationship between leaders and employees. Be it related to performance reviews or compensation and benefits to the metrics and standards by which the employees’ appraisals are going to be determined--organizations that are transparent about their processes are more likely to have a group of highly engaged employees. 


According to the whitepaper titled The Ownership Culture: Expanding cost management from an event to a mindset” by Oliver Wyman, “a true ownership culture is one where employees feel a substantial, personal stake in the company’s performance.” An ownership mindset is thus fuelled by values rather than rules. And the person and teams become more productive and efficient when they think like the CEOs of their respective departments and roles. 

Instilling a sense of ownership requires leaders to let go and empower employees to make their own decisions. A good culture of ownership can be fostered in the workplace when people are accountable for their decisions and have the mechanism to seek help and implement their decisions/strategy. A sense of ownership towards the work that you do also portrays an excellent work ethic and professionalism that is a valued trait across the board in any sector. 


Research shows that a high-performing culture has robust communication channels between line managers and subordinates, CXOs and middle management, and even among peers. There is a two-way communication across different tiers of the hierarchy and the feedback is given and taken with a constructive mindset. A major tenet of successful communication in a high-performing organization is clarity followed by support, empathy, and trust. 

Clarity becomes instrumental in order to ensure that your entire team is aligned to the same business goal. It will help team members understand what is expected of them, know how they’re performing at all times and realize how their individual work factors into the entire organization’s mission. Having a clear and precise understanding of what needs to be done, can help in bringing all the employees up-to-speed and on the same page. 

As an HR leader, it is also important to understand the level of expertise that the team possesses and ensure that they get all the support that they need in order to achieve their goals. Another aspect of this communication is empathy which ties in closely with the transparency trait. Perhaps, to check whether the organization is a transparent and empathetic one, leaders can observe if their team members welcome and appreciate different perspectives, experience and show compassion and gratitude, and recognize the ways in which others help them in their respective work. 

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Topics: Culture, #ChangeTheGame

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