In industry, there’s a common belief that performance culture is underpinned by strong leadership. And more and more we’re seeing a real crossover from the business world into the sports industry, as the same principles apply.
In this article, we look at the merits of performance culture in greater detail. We examine what it is, why it’s important and what factors help define and grow it. We also look at why clear and unambiguous standards form its backbone.
What is a High-Performance Culture?
Much has been written about performance culture over the years. From academic studies by Harvard Business, to motivational speakers.
However, experts believe it requires a “systematic approach” based on discipline. This is specifically to promote “decisiveness and standards of excellence”, as well as accountability.
Look at any successful organisation, team or partnership and it’s clear to see that it’s driven by high-performance culture. It’s not uncommon to see engaged team members that work together collaboratively for one shared vision.
Individuals do not just look at long-term goals either, they focus on the here and now. The same can be said of athletes and sports coaches, aiming for success. Because in a high-performance culture – motivation, inspiration and clear and unambiguous standards are the norm.
Needless to say, this is important on a number of levels. A collaborative and engaged workforce is one that takes less time off ill, is less likely to leave their company, works harder and generates greater results.
But, in order for a company to achieve optimum results, it needs to have a motivated high performing culture. So important has this become to industry, that the vast majority (87 per cent) of organisations cite workplace culture as one of its greatest challenges.
Behaviours of Performance Culture
Organisational culture is significant in sports coaching. It can help shape and define athlete’s attitudes and values, as well as determine their focus. In sports teams where individuals rely on each other for shared success, this is especially important.
There are a number of behaviours one would expect to see in a high-performance culture. These include:
- Good Communication – This is paramount to evolving work relationships and for team cohesiveness. It’s also key for organisations that wish to be open and supportive of all its team members.
- Objectives – In high performing teams, everyone is aware of their role and objectives. If they aren’t, they’re never afraid to ask for help and consistent feedback to improve.
- Defined Vision – As you might expect, an organisation with a strong performance culture is one with a strong vision. Not only is there a clearly defined mission, but there’s a behavioural code of conduct which influences how team members work together. Furthermore, all colleagues, athletes and team members are signed up to ways of working. They understand what needs to be done and how it will be achieved.
- High Standards – For success to be inherent, especially in sport, there must first be high standards to strive for. Having a benchmark is what gives all individuals a standard to aim towards.
- Strong Leadership – As with any successful organisation, clear and visible leadership is at its helm. This promotes confidence in the business for the long-term.
- Deliver – In a high performing environment, every team member accepts their role and delivers against it. This is a culture after all, that celebrates accountability and therefore promotes responsibility.
- Consistency – For standards to be upheld, a systemic consistent approach must be taken. This goes back to the importance of having high standards.
Striving for a High-Performance Culture
With a working knowledge of psychology, a sports coach is the perfect individual to help shape and define an organisation’s work culture. Promoting a collaborative and open working environment is key to this. However, it takes an entire organisation to buy into a working ethos – from senior management through to support staff.
So, what more can be done to achieve a joined-up approach? Here’s a few areas for consideration:
- Supportive – For high performance culture to flourish it requires support and engagement from everyone in the business. While it’s all too easy for team members to say they are supportive of senior management, what does this actually mean? In simple terms it means putting words into actions, it means implementing best practice and it means encouraging other members to do the same. Every member of the team has a duty to support the overall vision.
- Collaboration – Organisations that fail to have a joined-up approach have failed at creating a collaborative workforce. Because in order for individuals to be aligned, they need to first have some input and their voices heard. They need to feel involved in the decision-making process and for their input to be valued. This starts with contributing to setting standards in the first place.
- Accountability – Another significant factor in performance culture is accountability. Each team member must be encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and understanding the wider player field before holding others to account. This makes for a collaborative and more empathetic landscape for cooperation to flourish.
- Flexibility – On a final note, leaders and sports coaches need to exercise sensibility and flexibility at the same time. Acknowledging that many factors can impact a culture, as well as understanding behaviours in context is vital. Every organisation is different, with varying investors, ambitions and personalities to manage. Therefore, it’s only right to exercise some flexibility when it comes to implementing the above.
Performance culture drives an organisation, and is integral to growing the success of a company. But clear and unambiguous standards are needed for all individuals to be aligned.
The ambition should be to create a culture of openness and strength that is decisive and focused on the job in hand. Individuals should strive for high standards as a benchmark for excellence and achievement.
The onus isn’t just on the coach or athlete though. It requires buy in from every member of the team, to uphold, maintain and strive for the highest standards possible. All individuals need to accept responsibility and work as one team with one shared vision.
The path to success is filled with bumps in the road, but knowing where these are might just give your organisation the competitive advantage to navigate them better.