As a leader, you don’t head to work every day intending to achieve mediocre results. Nonetheless, you may be inadvertently setting mediocre expectations through your actions or focus. Unfortunately, this is a trap that snags many executives.
Every executive and business owner wants immediate results for accelerated performance and lasting change. However, many leadership, corporate culture and training and development programs produce only short-term gains that fade away as teams go back to their old habits.
The key to moving your organization from the status quo to an expectation of excellence is your corporate culture. When you build a corporate culture of excellence, you create organizational capacity and a structure that empowers, focuses and engages employees.
You stop wasting a tremendous amount of time and money nurturing an outmoded culture focused on problem solving. Instead, you equip your teams with the right mindset and skills necessary to focus on creating the desired results.
Here are Key Characteristics of a Culture of Excellence:
1. An Organizational Vision is Communicated and Understood
It’s not enough to simply have a stated organizational vision. To achieve a Culture of Excellence, every employee must understand not only the company’s vision, but also know their own roles, responsibilities and the specific actions they need to take in order to help achieve this vision.
2. Clear Purpose and Meaning
In a Culture of Excellence, employees feel that what they are working on is meaningful, significant, and purpose-based. Everyone concerned is highly inspired by the common purpose, which becomes the driving force behind everything that they do.
3. Mastery of Roles and Focus on High Performers
Most companies unconsciously concentrate on problem solving and end up rewarding mediocrity. In fact, many managers actually empower their low performers by focusing their time and energy on trying to solve their problems—while ignoring their high performers. Those high performers eventually leave because they aren’t being rewarded for their hard work. Companies with a Culture of Excellence set an expectation of high performance organization-wide. Every employee is supported and encouraged to become a master in their role and area of expertise. High performers are nurtured, rewarded, mentored and recognized, and average performers are coached to move into the high performance category. In these cultures, there is no place for low performers, and they either move up or leave the organization.
4. Resilience to Change and Challenges
In most organizations, when change or challenges occur, employees become distracted and lose focus on the organizational vision and goals. In a Culture of Excellence, employees develop the flexibility and resilience to deal with change, challenge and uncertainty. Even when there are obstacles and challenges that may seem impossible to overcome, the motivation to achieve the organizational vision is higher than the urge to avoid the discomfort. With that clarity of purpose and a strong desire to succeed, they push through the barriers and move forward toward their vision. Managers support their teams in staying focused and on track, despite difficulties and challenges.
5. Highly Collaborative Teams
Most of us have worked at companies where the silo mentality reigns. Teams and individuals closely guard their expertise, projects and knowledge. Collaboration across teams is nearly non-existent unless forced. A key feature of a Culture of Excellence is highly collaborative teams—both internal and external. Because every employee and all teams are working together toward a common organizational vision, they feel they are on the same side. And because this collaboration is encouraged and rewarded from the top down, there is no more reason to protect individual roles, projects or expertise.
6. Pioneer Mentality
Most companies that achieve a Culture of Excellence do not settle for the mediocre. Instead, they are focused on creating something that has never been created before, breaking records and achieving unprecedented results. From the outside, it may seem as if they are achieving the impossible. The resulting energy, excitement and drive, creates a certain positive tension that reverberates throughout the company. Employees and teams are encouraged to explore, nurture and co-create to achieve common goals.
How to Build a Culture of Excellence in Your Organization:
Following more than 18 years of research and working with clients in the areas of corporate development, culture and leadership, I have discovered the answer to creating a Culture of Excellence that both creates an immediate impact, and is sustainable over the long term.
The answer is a unique three-phase approach:
Phase 1: Mindset of Excellence. The first step in building a corporate culture that will drive a high performance organization is to create a mindset that will engage and align every employee with your vision, mission and values, and leave them speaking a common language of excellence. You will build a new capacity for growth. Your employees will think in more creative and innovate ways, and will develop the tolerance to continue to move forward despite challenges, change and potential distractions.
Phase 2: Strategies for Excellence. With the new mindset of excellence in place, your teams will be ready to focus on achieving their specific goals and plans for performance excellence. This phase is all about growth—building the skills and competencies required to grow the business.
Phase 3: Sustaining Excellence. When the first two phases are complete, and you have a strong collective mindset of excellence in place, alignment around performance goals and the skills and competencies required to deliver excellence, it’s time to focus on developing strong leadership to ensure that the new mindset and performance skills learned are sustainable and simply become the way things are done. This is a critical step often missed in organizations— but is required to ensure that employees don’t revert back to old habits.
Start Building a Culture of Excellence Today with our New eBook
To learn more about how you can build a Culture of Excellence in your organization, download my new eBook: Culture of Excellence: The Secret to Creating a High Performance Organization. You’ll gain insights on how to move away from a culture focused on problem solving and rewarding mediocrity, and build a culture that will give you the organizational and bottom line results you want, including:
- Significantly improved engagement, alignment, and team collaboration
- Committed and engaged employees working toward common goals
- Loyalty and commitment to the vision and values of the organization
- People who are happy and proud to be part of something ‘Big’ that they are creating together
- More satisfied customers that keep on coming back
- Increased efficiencies and productivity
- Overall improvements in profitability and market share.