Over the past month I’ve posted on several important topics including delegation and outsourcing.  If you’ve read these posts you may have seen some mutual skills/actions needed. They are not specific to these topics.

I began searching for the common theme in all these areas and it hit me that high performance organizations have many of the same characteristic.  So, I figure this would be a good topic for this week.

People like to talk about high performance teams and organization.  But, do they really understand what’s going on under the surface within these organizations?

There is a process for creating high-performance organizations.  And, it’s not as complex as many people think!  I didn’t say it was easy.  But, if you are willing to put in the time and energy the result can be a high performance organization.

4 Characteristics for High Performance Organizations

The steps to creating a high performance organization are somewhat similar to delegation.  They include:

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  • Communicating the operating parameters
  • Delegating/Empowering others
  • Establishing performance criteria
  • Holding people accountable


Operating Parameters

This first steps is telling people what their role is in the organization and what you need them to do in support of the mission.  This takes the form of 2 critical tools in the business.

The first is the job description.  Many small businesses don’t have job descriptions and this creates a problem.  If people don’t understand what their job is, how can you expect them to do it well?

Next is the operational business plan.  This outlines what the goals and objectives for the company and what tasks need to be accomplished toward achieving them.  I liken it to a project plan for the business.


If people know their role and what the organization is trying to accomplish, you arm them with the needed tools to make better decision.  Now, instead of you having to decide everything you can they have what they need to make decisions for themselves!

Additionally, it alleviates some of the stress you have with delegating.  If they know what the target is they can make some of these simpler decisions that drive you crazy every day.  By creating an environment that allows this to occur, you see a shift in the culture.  And soon others will be making decisions on their own.

You have to be careful here.  When people make the wrong decision you cannot let the hammer fall.  You must use it as a learning opportunity.  Show them where they may have made mistake in their judgment and how they should evaluate these situations going forward.  This allows them to improve the decision making skills and empowers your people to do more of your behalf.

Establish Performance Criteria

This should be easy if you provided a job description and business plan.  These 2 documents outline the parameters.  In this step you just need to describe the manner in which you will evaluate success.  If you people know this upfront they will usually display the behaviors which you desire.  If not, you need to ask why not?

Many people struggle with this step because they don’t know how to create objective metrics from which to evaluate a subjective situation.  While this is very doable, it is a more complex process than can be addressed here.  If you are struggling with this, contact me.  I will be happy to walk you through the process of establishing objective performance criteria.

Hold People Accountable

Once people know what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated it is much easier to hold people accountable.  The funny thing is most people want accountability!

I am surprised the number of time I interview employees and find that they’re frustrated because they don’t know what’s expected of them.  Just as frequently they tell me, “I never get any feedback if I am doing a good job or not.”

Frequently this is because the business owner hasn’t done the upfront work I just described.  As a result they don’t even know what they want!

In this situation, the only feedback tends to be negative.  If only negative feedback is given the organization’s performance will suffer as it will be up to each individual to find the positive day-to-day and some people have a difficult time find the positive.

So, if you want a high-performance organization there is some upfront work.  You have to understand what you want people to do; communicate it to them; give them the performance measures; and then follow through on evaluating them.  It may sound like a lot.  But, once it’s working you’ll be surprised at how much more time you have because you have empowered your people to make decision on their own!

Have you employed something similar to this to improve employee performance in your business?  How did it work?  Was there something you may have done differently that gave to positive results?