High performance culture

The 3 cornerstones of high performing organisations

From a scientific perspective, with the performance of an organisation being determined by the collective behaviours of it's people (the things that colleagues say and do every day) it follows that there will be specific groups of behaviours which drive high performance.

Over the course of the last 2 decades Quo have worked with hundreds of unique organisations across many different industries.  The common experience of the most successful is that certain behaviours are practiced on a daily basis and allowed to flourish. 

We have grouped these behaviours into things that high performing people 'say and do' at 3 hierarchical levels.

Leaders, managers and the front line

Every organisation is of course different, with unique structures and reporting lines.  When exploring the commonalities across high performing organisations, we have identified 3 simple categories of role - leaders, managers and front line colleagues - where consistent behaviours, actions and traits combine to create the underpinning culture.  

Leaders - creating the conditions for high performance

Leaders are the senior stakeholders of the business who set the strategy and direction.  They hold a crucial collective role in setting the organisation up to succeed.  Key behaviours and traits (as recorded in the most successful organisations) include:

  • Creating the clarity and climate required for high performance
  • Observing the business on a behavioural level
  • Being aware of the impact (positive and negative) that is created by their own behaviours
  • Role modelling the desired behaviours
  • Setting KPI's which encourage and reinforce high performance
  • Coaching and supporting people
  • "Catching people doing it right" and creating effective consequence environments
  • Thinking like (and helping colleagues to think like) customers

Managers - managing high performance every day

Managers manage people, regardless of how few or how many - from supervisors and leaders of small teams to heads of significant departments.   All managers have a crucial role in bringing focus, formidable performance and enjoyment to the workplace.  Key behaviours and traits include:

  • Effectively engaging their people
  • Knowing the people they manage, what makes them tick and what triggers high performance
  • Providing clarity around behavioural and performance expectations
  • Delivering effective consequence management (catching people doing it right)
  • Getting people to deliver because they want to (rather than have to)
  • Managing to habit level the behaviours which drive high performance
  • Helping their people achieve personal and career objectives

Front line - delivering high performance because they want to (not have to)

Front line colleagues work at the coal face of the organisation and ultimately create high performance through their every day interactions and behaviours.  Key behaviours and traits of high performing front line colleagues include:

  • Always seeing their work and service through the eyes of the customer
  • Thinking like customers (not just about them)
  • Empowered to identify continuous improvements, to innovate and create solutions to problems
  • Engaged in their role - they deliver because they want to rather than have to
  • Wanting to be the best they can be
  • Using every day interactions as a learning vehicle

Quo help organisations to effectively align these 3 areas. 

Ensuring leaders, managers and front line colleagues are all effectively aligned to deliver high performance is an ongoing challenge for virtually all organisations. 

Some organisations have strengths in one or two of the areas but are limited in how successful they can be because of the gaps that exist.  Collective achievements and months of carefully planned activity with front line teams and managers can be brought to a crashing halt by a single ill judged sentence spoken by a senior leader. 

Even high performing organisations with strengths in all 3 areas can stumble in dramatic fashion - as well known global brands have demonstrated in recent news.  The departure of a highly successful CEO, the loss of key talented individuals and the relentless evolution in customer expectations can all have major consequences. 

The commercial impact of high performance cultures

  • Bupa, Starbucks, The AA and Anglian Water became industry leaders in customer service.
  • A global retail bank achieved a 28 point rise in customer satisfaction across 15 countries in less than 3 months.
  • A global health & fitness chain recorded an increase in member retention of 9% resulting in revenues 80 higher than the cost of a programme.
  • Staff engagement rose to 4.3 (from 3.4) out of 5 for one of the UK’s largest customer contact centres.