High Commitment, High Performance Management

Corporate Responsibility

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

High commitment, high-performance management organizations (HCHP) sustain performance over long periods by concentrating on three organizational pillars. These pillars are crucial to creating a long-term vision that looks at big-picture growth and longevity rather than the bottom-line needs of this year or quarter. HCHP organizations are characterized in part by:

  • A sustained commitment from all levels, including investors and customers, to organizational excellence and shared missions
  • Long periods of achievement that exceed expectations and can be described as excellent
  • Clear goals that are tied to big-picture organizational success and can be dropped down to support relevant team and individual goals at every layer
  • An emphasis on continuous learning and improvement throughout the organization, including skills development, process improvement, and growth

The pillars of high commitment, high-performance management are performance alignment, psychological alignment, and learning and change.

Performance Alignment

At the most basic, performance alignment is about getting the ducks in a row within an organization so everyone can focus well on a shared winning strategy. That being said, this pillar does not look to dictate single-minded paths from the top down. Instead, leaders and those on their teams work together to create a business strategy that supports success.

That strategy becomes the beacon for all paths to support the big-picture strategy. The business goal must be communicated to stakeholders at all levels. Stakeholders must have goals that serve them individually while supporting the business’s goals. When performance is aligned across the organization, success for the business means success for everyone, and success for one means the support of business success.

High-Performance Management in the Organizational Chain

To achieve high performance as a business, every link in the organizational chain must also be high performance. That requires alignment across overall strategy and goals, specific, well-documented roles and responsibilities, and rules for decision-making.

Some common challenges for creating a high-performance culture include:

  • Putting the right leaders in place
  • Getting (and keeping) commitment from teams and people at all levels of the organization
  • Managing the communication and collaboration required for seamless performance alignment
  • Building and supporting the processes and tools required for this intense alignment

Psychology Alignment

It is not enough to set shared goals and align performance across all levels of an organization. If performance alignment is the structure by which high commitment, high performance firms are built, psychological alignment is the glue that helps hold it all together.

High-performance management practices require leadership to empower employees and trust them to make decisions. Ensuring everyone is aligned to a higher purpose can help build that trust because everyone is working toward the same common goal — and that goal is greater than the company’s bottom line.

While many employees certainly will understand that driving revenue or profit margins can be suitable for everyone, the ability to make a difference often pushes teams to do more than they would if business performance were the only drivers on the table. Under this pillar of high commitment, high performance management, leaders provide a sense of higher purpose and a shared cause that can rally all stakeholders to action.

Common Goals in High-Performance Management Organizations

Building a better world and pride in performance are two common goals that work well for psychological alignment.

The first involves finding a mission the business and its employees can get behind. Environmental actions, such as reducing carbon footprints, or philanthropy, such as giving back to the local community, are two examples of building a better world.

Pride in performance ties psychological alignment to the business’s brand reputation or the quality of its products. It makes people proud to call themselves an employee and creates a culture where team members strive for excellence so they can be part of that legacy.

Some common barriers leaders can face with psychological alignment include:

  • Finding the right shared values to motivate employees and stakeholders while supporting business goals
  • Balancing profits and other business needs with action on visions and values
  • Maintaining a brand reputation in keeping with the shared values used for psychological alignment, as deviation from the path could mean public relations and employer branding challenges
Trust is an essential element of high commitment, high performance management

Learning and Change

Trust is a critical commodity in any high-performance management model, and one-way leadership can court the trust of team members is by ensuring opportunities for learning and change. In an HCHP organization, learning and growth are organic components of all processes, and everyone works to ensure access to knowledge and opportunity for growth across all levels.

In a high-performance culture, leaders have collective, public conversations with key lower-level stakeholders about what stands in the way of success — for individuals, teams, and the company. As a result, the business is transparent about clear goals and fair performance evaluations for individuals, and it is clear that importance is placed on providing growth opportunities. This emphasis on learning and change can help reduce burnout, support employee retention, and loyalty, and create growth patterns for individuals, teams, and the business.

Some common challenges businesses can face related to this pillar include:

  • Finding the time and resources to support learning and skills development
  • Creating transparent and fair practices for selecting high performers for opportunities
  • Driving the type of overall growth that makes room for team and individual growth