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Sinead Quinn

OMT Global

Digital Marketing Executive

Read more from Sinead Quinn

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What are the common characteristics that define High Performance Organisations?


In recent years we’ve been hearing a lot about High-Performance Organisations (HPOs) and what defines them.

They outperform their peers. They deal with well with change. They are lean and know how to spread their resources.

It turns out that no matter which list of HPO characteristics you look at, they all agree on some things; performance is about the culture of an organisation and the strength of character of its leaders.

Culture and character aren’t vague ideas. They are core to success. A clear business strategy sits comfortably alongside them. There are definitely some common characteristics to be found in companies that outshine the competition.

Leaders with Character

One of the things about a High-Performance Organisation is the presence of leaders who have high ethical standards along with strength of character. They are decisive but they also know how to deal with their best resource, their people.

The Jim Collins quote that “great leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will” still rings true. Look at any HPO and you will see leaders who build trust among staff, by nurturing relationships, showing respect and encouragement. They get that these values aren’t secondary, but are vital to the success of a business. You need to start with good leaders.

Community and Core Cultures

Employees in a High-Performance Organisation know what the core values are at work because they help create them. The HPO workplace often has a “community” feel where teamwork and collaboration are valued and employees feel engaged.

They also have a culture where personal responsibility isn’t ignored. Staff have more control over their work. They are given resources and let do their job. The HPO workplace spends time developing a culture whereby staff believe they matter to the business goals and are part of the success story. Culture matters.

Clear Business Strategies

It might sound obvious, but employees need to know what the business goals are. Companies who do not perform often have a workforce who are either unclear about or uninterested in its business strategy.

HPOs do not have this problem. People know what is expected of them. If the strategy is clear and staff understand and feel part of it, the company is on the right road to higher performance.

Robust Performance Management

Don’t obsess about appraisals, obsess about performance. Successful companies coach their staff. They don’t just do annual reviews. Performance management is a year round process and staff know what is expected from them.

HPOs have employees who may make mistakes, but they learn from them and can expect mentoring and coaching to continuously improve.

Relentless Customer Focus

Forget your customer and you’ve forgotten why you’re in business. If you want your company to perform to its highest potential, you need to keep a focus on your client or customer. Make sure you’re listening to them. Know who they are, where they are and what they expect.

Do you need to change to keep up? High-Performance Organisations have the customer front and centre and they never forget about them.

There are lots of features of High-Performance Organisations which we can learn from. They organise well. They know their business and they have a clear strategy. They adapt to change and are decisive. They are also places that understand that individuals make businesses work, from the leader to the customer. They have good procedures but they don’t forget people.

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Sinead Quinn

Digital Marketing Executive

Read more from Sinead Quinn

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