Building a high-performance culture in your post-COVID-19 team

Monday, August 17th 2020

A lot of brilliant content has been published guiding companies on the logistics of transitioning from office to remote working throughout the pandemic.

But once you have sorted out the logistics and communication of post-COVID-19 remote working, you might be thinking about how you can build and maintain a high-performance culture, whilst working remotely.

And of course, a lot of the principles that were helping your team perform well in the office still apply when your team is remote. 

So this week we’ll be talking about ensuring your team still has the platform and the culture they need to operate at the top of their potential when working remotely.

Don’t let creating and maintaining a high-performance culture slip down your list of priorities because of trying to manage the impact of COVID-19 and remote working. 

With what could be a year or longer of economic turbulence ahead, now it is more important than ever to encourage excellence through a high-performance, fast-paced culture. It’s indispensable to your continued growth. 

The opposite will lead to unsustainable levels of inefficiency, particularly for a startup operating in these challenging conditions.

There are several ways in which the foundations for a high-performance culture can be laid:

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Be a high-performance leader

While high-performance cultures need to permeate every level of the company, they have to start at the top. Be a high-performance leader by example, when you’re remote, working in the office, or a mix of both. Be efficient, productive, and forward-thinking. Be positive, collaborative, and empowering, and encourage the same behaviors in your team. Be visible and open, and make sure you’re a shining light for the high-performance culture you preach.

Get management buy-in

Needless to say, management will be major players in building and operating the high-performance culture. While the executive team needs to embody the culture, management will be largely responsible for effecting the change on the ground. If you don’t get full management buy-in from day one, the journey will be longer and harder. 

Managers will also be able to identify areas where value can be added, processes smoothed out, and key improvements made to get more from their teams. If you’re remote working, this will be more challenging, so make sure they have the tools they need. Asking them if they’re missing anything, and empower them to make the changes they need to. 

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Build trust, then accountability

Trust is at the core of a high-performance culture. And it needs to come before accountability every time. Your people need to trust that their performance is being assessed fairly, that the support system is there for guidance when they need it. They need to feel confident that they can talk about mistakes and get solid help so they don’t happen again. Openness, transparency, and meritocracy will always trump politics or nepotism in true high-performance cultures. It’s at this point when true accountability can emerge.

Define critical success factors and agree on team behaviors

Sitting above accountability are your critical success factors. The question you need to be asking yourself is: “What does success look like?” But this needs to examined at every level of the business, on both an individual and team basis. When your critical success factors are defined the high-performance culture should be your fuel for achieving them. Team behaviors should be established collaboratively and aimed at building and sustaining high-performance, through continuous improvement and increased productivity. 

Reward excellence now

Your recruitment should be geared towards hiring talent who are intrinsically motivated to be part of a high-performance culture. This culture will accelerate their personal and professional development. But you must combine this with recognizing and rewarding the best examples of high-performance. Recognition is essential and excellent motivation. Battlefield promotions rewarding excellent performance will help sustain the culture you have built.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to creating and maintaining your high-performance culture, whether or not your team is working remotely due to COVID-19.