David Wilkinson

Author and expert on Ambiguity and Emotional Resilience.

The 8 Steps to Creating Your Own High Performance Culture

The 8 Steps to Creating Your Own High Performance Culture
Following on from my last post 'Step-by-step guide to a high performance team' here are the 8 steps to creating your own high performance and agile culture:
...have as your goal an adult management mindset
  1. Get the mindset right. First, recognise that you are moving the management paradigm from a largely 'management as master model' towards a 'manager as facilitator' model. In other words you are moving towards are largely (not entirely) self-managed team. This is going to necessitate a shift in
    1. thinking,
    2. attitudes,
    3. values,
    4. beliefs, as well as
    5. behaviour. In effect an adult relationship as opposed to a parent - child relationship. You need to understand this and have as your goal an adult management mindset.
  2. Clarity of vision. Get absolutely clear in your head what you are trying to achieve (a high performance team) and what that is going to look and feel like. No vision = no action.
  3. Communicate. Let the team know what you want and expect in terms of behaviour and attitudes. Make it clear.
  4. Take your time. Recognise this won't happen overnight - you are developing habits therefore you are training your team. It will take time to get right. You will have to overcome fears and anxieties. At first expect all sorts of ‘nibbling’ behaviour as people learn it is ok to give feedback. Also don’t expect people to give feedback about the important stuff. It will take a little time for people to learn what to give feedback about. Remember mistakes are the sign of people learning.
  5. Be the role model. You (the manager/leader) needs to lead the way and act as a role model. If there is any sense you don’t ascribe to and value this people will be able to tell and it is very unlikely to work. 
  6. Start with feedback. 
    1. Hold a briefing - this is a habit you are going to get into. Briefing and debriefing are the hallmark of high performance teams, from the special forces, to athletes, world class sports teams, the emergency services etc.
    2. Explain feedback. What it is and how to do it (what you expect and what you don't expect). Paint a picture of your expectations.
    3. Run the first iteration there and then.
      1. Ask 'what would make this team better?' This is the start of the feedback. Your reactions are critical here.
      2. Ask what is working now / what do they like
      3. Ask what they would like to see changed
      4. Show change to feedback yourself. It is vital to lead by example. 
  7. End with feedback. Your job is to give feedback on the quality of feedback being given. So you need to have a fairly clear idea of the kinds and type of feedback high performing teams
  8. Always debrief. Hold regular debriefings about the quality of the feedback being given, especially in the early days. These debriefs are for everyone to say what is useful and what isn’t useful feedback. This will be an iterative learning process for everyone. It is however a good time to remind people the feedback is there to improve performance and professional practice.

Like most skills this type of continual performance feedback doesn't come easily or naturally to most people at first. Again like most skills practice is essential. You didn't learn your job in a day, but you kept turning up and soon you became proficient. It is the same with feedback and maintaining a high performance team.

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