Ground Rules for Creating a High Performance Organization (HPO)!

Ground rules
SC Viral The Pandemic Diaries

A High Performance Organization is one in which there is tremendous alignment among and commitment by the team members. And as a result this motivated team is able to achieve superior results. The level of collaboration and innovation they demonstrate is remarkable.  But what are the ground rules?

There are many characteristics of the culture which allows such teams to be high performing. And when they set out to drive change and make improvements it is those cultural characteristics which allow them to succeed.

So what are some of those characteristics? If you are trying to lead a game changing project it is important that you engage those attributes or ground rules in your team.

And it is critical that these ground rules are explicitly communicated, discussed and ratified by your team. If people understand what is expected of them, and what the rules of the game are, they will rise to the challenge.

Keep these ground rules posted on walls in your business. Remind people about these expectations every day and throughout your change management process.

Leave Your Egos, Roles and Titles at the Door

Employees can be highly intimidated when the Boss is around. Or for matter anyone else who throws around their authority by virtue of their title or sense of self worth. If you want to drive game changing results you must explicitly state that in any improvement project that titles and egos are to be left outside of the meeting room. If employees see that you are participating equally then they will open up and share their tremendous ideas.

All Ideas are Welcome

At some point everyone has been afraid to ask a question for share an idea for fear of being shot down. Or their idea may be so radically different from the current state they may not sense the organization is ready to hear it. You must explicitly declare that any, and every, idea is a good one. There are no boundaries. There will be time later to filter out the ideas but when you are brainstorming you need every idea to surface.

Avoid Status Quo Thinking. Embrace All Possibilities

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing as before and expecting a different result. If you want to make change you need people’s thinking to be unconstrained by the status quo. Most everything can be changed. It merely takes human resolve and decision making. There should be no sacred cows. If you want to achieve game changing results you should expect it will be difficult. That is because you are challenging old ways of doing things. But the sense of accomplishment when you break through these barriers will be highly rewarding.

Focus on what’s right for all. Avoid Politics

When people join a project their intentions should be true to achieving the project objectives. Whenever someone tries to advance their own agenda, or play politics, it becomes apparent to all. Everyone will be looking over their shoulder and question what is going on. And at that point the project will suffer. High performance teams operate with the team’s objective in mind.

Get out of your Comfort Zone. Break Barriers

Many people are comfortable in their jobs or in their organizations. If you are leading a project you need people to get out of that comfort zone. You want people to think outside of their silos and their paradigms. It is critical to create the environment that allows for this broader thinking. Your project will be better for it. And your participants will develop personally in a very meaningful way.

Get to Results!

It is great to be able to complain about the current situation. And it is great to brainstorm ideas to make things better. But things will truly only change if you and your organization make decisions to make things better. A problem can be analyzed ad nauseum but at some point you need to stop the analysis and make a decision. It is often better to make a decision even if the information you have is not perfect. If the result is not quite what you expect then make another decision. You only move forward if you take a step.

Be Disciplined!

Any effort to drive change requires time, attention, and resources. It requires your and your team’s mindshare. Without a very concerted focus everyone will become distracted with all of the other demands on their time. It is important to have a process of governance and review which enables you to ensure that issues are addressed in real time. Without this discipline your project will derail. Change does not happen by itself.

Eliminate Waste and Excuses!

The core of Lean process improvement thinking is the unrelenting focus on eliminating waste. It makes sense to automate a bad process for instance. The essence of change in a high performance organization includes the elimination of waste. Further a high performance team does not waste time on excuses. They recognize problems and get on with fixing and preventing them.

Trust! Get rid of any baggage!

When you work in an organization where trust does not exist between employees you find that the team doesn’t function well. The lack of trust becomes the basis for a lot of highly unproductive and destructive behaviours. This behaviour in turn negatively impacts any changes that you want to make or results you want to achieve.

You must get to trust. If you have any baggage with another person then deal with it head on. Proactively raise the issue with that person. Ask them to identify any issues they have with you. Then clear the air. With that done you have the basis to move forward on a foundation of trust. And trust is a critical part of a High Performance Organization.

Ground Rules in Conclusion

A High Performance Organization will consistently beat it’s competitors. It will break through barriers that stop others in their tracks. And it is able to do so because it operates with a culture that is, by definition, designed to outperform expectations. The distinct behavioural norms we have discussed make that possible.

It doesn’t matter what the size of the project or change is that you are driving. For if you deploy the ground rules that we have discussed you will start your team on the journey of making remarkable changes.

And yours will be a High Performance Organization.

Originally published April 18, 2017.