The Truth About Highly Performing Cultures. Are We Walking The Talk?

Executives want to believe the company they manage has a high performing culture. It is important to have the image of being efficient and performing smooth execution of projects. This is something that investors want to see. It is also excellent public relations, but it might all be a mask. Certain qualities are found in a highly performing culture which, if they are not there, mean only shallow appearances and window dressing is showing. There is more to this than positive and cheerful words. A commitment to excellence is at the core of high performance, but it has to be clearly demonstrated.

Definition of a Highly Performing Culture

There are various indicators that a company has a highly performing culture inherent in its makeup. These include the following:

  • Shared values;
  • Inspirational leadership;
  • An environment that empowers all the work associates;
  • Innovation is encouraged;
  • Opportunities for people to develop their skills;
  • A goal oriented business plan.

There are other ingredients for this type of culture. There is a commitment to excellence that transcends ordinary business as usual. This perhaps is the biggest problem in creating a high performance culture. Management has to institute the process and cannot turn away and ignore it. Understanding that old ways die hard suggests turning a workplace into a high-performance culture is going to take time and effort

What needs to be done?

It is not to be too difficult for some companies to turn into a high-performance culture. They already have the basics and simply need to step up efforts a little bit. Other companies are going to have some problems. Traditional bureaucracies stifle innovation and budgets are going to have to be re-worked in order to meet the cost in both time and money. Knowing that there will be a cost here are some of the things that can be done to introduce a cultural change in the office.

Gallup recently commissioned a study within the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to determine how to best implement high performance cultures in the region. Thousands of managers were interviewed and the consensus showed that clear expectation, a trusting environment, and employee development were all part of a recipe to promote better performance. Gallup also interviewed over 30,000 employees in identical sectors of the economy (banking and finance, property development, tourism, oil and gas, and telecommunications). The data tells the story from the employee standpoint of view and there is good reason to believe the findings show the path to better business figures.

What the Workers say

The Gallup study uncovered six areas crucial to the development of a high performance culture.

  1. Better Performance Management. Merit based systems, clearly defined goals and objectives, an easy to understand reward system, and goals that are shared by all of the company makes for powerful motivation. The performance management appears to be extremely important in the overall scheme of things.
  2. Empowerment. It becomes a very serious matter of trust which is not apparent in a number of business establishments. Employees who are empowered by management are better able to connect with customers and respond to market demands. They also appear better able to deal with changes in the marketplace.
  3. Employee engagement. Leaders who are easy to contact develop a high morale within the workforce. They are always providing a consistent message better able to inspire significant levels of trust.
  4. Customer cantered strategies. This is essentially the marketplace mission where corporate brand is successfully connected to the customer base.
  5. Better Collaboration and Communication. These are considered essential and there is some problem with in the entire Gulf region.
  6. Training and development. Companies have to invest in their employees and not enough of this is done. The training is not meant to be just for the sake of appearance. To be truly effective all training efforts have to be tied closely to the goals of the company, as well as its mission.

Difficulties that arise stem largely from old-fashioned ways of doing things. Management has a problem in some companies with innovation. This has got to change. High-performance cultures are desired, but need to be worked on. The old style of management is causing a roadblock and that can be a disaster in the modern economy. Globalization has created the kind of competition don’t even thought of 20 years ago. Qatar is faced with a very unique challenge as far as the world is concerned. High-performance cultures cannot just be in the oil and gas sector. Other sectors such as tourism, financial need to ready to meet the challenges of a world-class economy.

The concept of a high performance culture must be more than a slogan. It sounds nice in the annual report, but shareholders are going to wonder if the financial figures in the report don’t match the words in the text. Results prove if the culture change has happened for the better, and measuring progress from the date of implementation is important. Human Resources needs to be given the task of monitoring what is going on, and any recommended fine tuning must be done.

Qatar has seen dynamic growth and change within the last 25 years. It is clear that reliance on just one sector, oil and gas, is not going to be beneficial in the future. Changes are necessary and high-performance cultures have to be implemented. It is been proven time and again that doing so results in better bottom lines, and workplaces where employees look forward to working. The benefits can clearly outweigh any possible costs.

In a very real sense developing this type of a work environment goes hand in glove with what the state of Qatar is trying to do overall with its workforce. Qatarisation is attempting to bring more Qatari nationals into the private sector. With the emphasis on empowerment and skill development stressed in developing a high performance culture, a company is better able to meet its officially stated objectives within the Qatarisation program. By itself, meeting the official benchmarks is a superior reward.


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