be a digital-first business

Does your organization nurture outperformance?

Monday January 28, 2019, by Suraj Gupta

In most organizations, only one third of the employees are engaged.  This impacts individual and organization performance. How do we change this? 

If a significant number off your employees are millennials and Gen Z, then it’s pertinent to think about what it is that they’re looking for from their organization.  

During my interaction with several teams, I’ve realized that a Gen Z employee wants to make the most out of every situation and be part of an organization where the culture allows them to challenge the status quo, and push the boundaries.  

Across my career, , I’ve had the opportunity to work with some fantastic leaders and be part of high-performing teams. Here are the seven elements that, I believe, make an organization a high-performing one.   

Mission. Vision. Ambition 

A clear mission /purpose (the raison d’être for a company’s existence) and a long-term vision, are the two elements that are foundational to building a high-performing organization. The mission is the WHY that helps an organization rally its troops around it. Microsoft’s corporate mission is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” This mission statement shows that the business is all about empowerment of people and organizations.  

Moreover, to have this in place, it’s essential that the leaders have the ambition to create a great organization that outlasts them. Ambition is not only goal-oriented, but more about the mindset that the leadership teams bring to the table, and drive across other teams. At Brillio our mission is to enable clients to build “Digital First Business with Human First Approach.” 

The mission rarely changes, but the vision evolves based on business dynamics and needs of customers.  

E.g., the mission statement of Walmart is “to save people money so they can live better,” and this hasn’t changed since its inception. Its current vision statement, articulated in 2017, is “Be THE destination for customers to save money, no matter how they want to shop.” Their previous statement was “To be the best retailer in the hearts and minds of consumers and employees.” This change in vision reflects the strategic changes that the company is implementing in response to changes in the retail industry. 

Alignment of Execution to the Organization Vision  

The organization needs to work effectively to achieve the vision outlined. Values and their embodiment, by teams, are critical to creating a long-term sustainable culture. At Brillio, we have defined our values as Client Success, We Care, Entrepreneurial (mindset) and Excellence. Companies focused on customer success are more innovative. Our value of We Care ensures that we build an organization that supports the development of employees in a very collaborative manner. Being Entrepreneurial is about pushing the boundaries. Employees are encouraged to take risks and we realize not everything goes right. Failure also teaches us valuable lessons   To bring in organizational alignment, we have implemented V2MOM to ensure a goal flow down –Vision, Values, Measures, Obstacles, and Measures.  

Personally, V2MOM is also a great tool to communicate and align my team. The vision has helped us define what we want to do. The values established what was most important about that vision — the principles and beliefs. Then we used our methods by outlining the actions and steps we needed to take to illustrate how we would get the job done. The obstacles phase later identified the challenges we needed to overcome. And, finally, the measures specified the result we aimed to achieve. The V2MOM process, when combined, gave us not only a detailed map of where we were going, but how to get there. 

Leaders Walk the Talk 

It is an open secret that a leader sets the tone of how a company and teams operate, on a daily basis. Once you’ve got the alignment between your vision and values, it’s time to walk the talk. And, to build a high-performing organization, you need high-performing leaders who –  

  1. Keep the organization mission, vision, and values central to how they operate 
  1. Build teams that are committed and confident 
  1. Enable their teams always to augment their skills 
  1. Empower teams to push forward,  stepping in only to remove the obstacles affecting team performance 
  1. Are willing to roll up their sleeves to be with the team when it is in a trench.  

Learning Environment 

With businesses operating in an incredibly dynamic environment, navigating change becomes paramount. Organizations need to be able to adapt and evolve.  According to a recent Korn Ferry research on agility, Talent for Tomorrow: Four Secrets for HR Agility in an Uncertain World, the difference between organizations that succeed in these conditions, and those that don’t, is the learning agility. 

At Brillio, the focus of all our learning interventions has been to enable Brillians to take on the next-level challenges, growth and leadership opportunities. The other dimension of our learning charter is about changing mindsets. For this, we’ve designed and implemented learning interventions that help Brillians focus more on the ‘impact’ they create.  

Beyond the formal learning interventions, learnings happen on the job. We should enable and give assignments to our teams so that they can surprise themselves and us through their achievements, thus setting up a virtuous cycle.  Also, ensure that this on the job mentoring is continuous—being heavier at the outset of any job or role change While sometimes it may not proceed as we expect, as the job need and person capabilities are different; I’ve seen changing job roles, sometimes does wonders on the performance. 

Reward Excellence and Celebrate Success  

As leaders, you need to capitalize on every opportunity that comes your way to recognize and reward excellence you wish to drive. This recognition has to be done in real time as much as possible. Sometimes in a hurry to move to the next milestone, we de-prioritize such celebrations. E.g.,  At Brillio, Customer Success is a crucial element of our brand promise. We consistently share stories in staff and team meetings, and team members, who’ve delivered customer success, are recognized and rewarded.  This celebration of our fundamental value is helping us build a culture that’s focused on providing excellence to our customers.  

By ensuring that successes, best practices, and creative ideas are consistently shared, recognized and celebratedacross the organization, the teams will continuously improve and exceed ever-evolving demands of the dynamic marketplace. 

Open Culture and Collaboration 

Since excellence doesn’t happen just once, it is essential to create and practice an open feedback culture to create a high-performance workplace. Not only providing but receiving feedback regularly, regardless of position and tenure improves employees’ effectiveness and further deepens the relationships between them. Your team leaders can set the example by asking for input from team members, responding positively and integrating the feedback into work behaviors. A lot of hairy issues get resolved by working with our teams; this also helps to bring them early into any change and build team buy-in.  

As the adage goes, ‘No man is an island.’ In today’s fast-paced and global work environment, no win is just due to one person. Various teams, often from across the globe, with varied skill sets, need to come together to deliver success. Moreover, that is why a high-performing workplace cannot exist without a strong culture of collaboration.  

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate 

I believe in the principle of 95:95:95; i.e., 95% of your employees should have access to 95% of the communication 95% of the time.  

In his book, ‘How Google Works’, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, says you should default to open, not closed when it comes to communication. If you make a conscious attempt to practice this in everything that your organization does, you will realize it is not as hard as it seems.   

High-performance is the Key to Outperform 

In short, the top performing organizations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft outperform other companies because not only their strategies are clear, differentiated and well-articulated but their execution is solid. Their culture of open communication and open feedback extends to the front line, thus, enabling teams to perform at higher levels.  

Another big area, I see, is the Grit of the Leadership team. While it is true that not all initiatives work, never stopping at anything, finally, brings success Both Google and Amazon have more failures than success. The ability to learn from mistakes and failures, and come up with new approaches, significantly, distinguishes the high-performing organizations.    

Is your organization building a high-performing workplace? I am keen to learn from you!


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