Chief Operations Officer

Creating High Performing Teams by Jo Mansell, go-centric COO

To deliver outstanding service you need an outstanding team. I’ve spent my entire career working with organisations to deliver high performance. Having worked in senior HR roles for Santander, GE Money, Coca Cola, Astra Zeneca and BP Chemicals, I understand the challenges faced by senior leaders trying to introduce a culture of high performance to transform their organisation.

Transforming the culture of your business is never going to be easy. If it’s easy, you’re probably not doing it right! However, neither should it be overly complex, and there are things you learn along the way to guide you on how to structure and implement a cultural change.

It’s not a one-size fits all solution, but I’ll share some of my thoughts on the key actions I believe you need to take to create a high-performance culture and deliver outstanding results:

  1. Clear, consistent and true leadership

The quality of your leadership is absolutely critical as it cuts through to the heart of the organisation. The behaviours of your senior leaders will permeate through your organisation, so they will determine the success, or failure, of any cultural change programme.

So first and foremost, belief. Your leaders must be onboard and buy into the culture you’re trying to create and believe that will deliver success for your business. If they don’t, it will leak out in their behaviours and you will lose the trust of your people. There must be a tacit agreement, a ‘signing up’ to the vision and they must be authentic, consistent and transparent in their leadership.

Secondly they must ‘walk the talk’ and visibly demonstrate their sign up to vision to inspire their teams. You need to create a culture within your leadership where they can give feedback to each other in a respectful, constructive environment so they can call each other out if they’re not ‘walking the talk’.

Thirdly, be clear with your leaders as to what is expected from them. But also be clear to your people about what they should expect from their leaders. Create the trust. Create the environment that tells your people there is mutual respect and that everyone is expected to demonstrate that.

  1. A strong vision

It should go without saying that a business with a clear vision and strategy that is well communicated to employees is more likely to be successful. There is plenty of research out there to back that up. When implementing cultural change, it’s the same principle, tell people very clearly what you’re trying to achieve and why, what’s in it for them and then be very clear about your plans to get there. People need to know change is purposeful, that everything you do is purposeful.

So make sure your communications and actions are connected. Your whole people strategy should be connected, so the full employee journey is considered in terms of culture and engagement. From attraction and onboarding, to performance management, recognition and reward, employee relations and communications. How you treat people and how you expect people to behave are intrinsically linked. You can’t drive change in one area without considering the impact of the other.

  1. Celebrate success

Aside from the obvious benefits of recognising and rewarding people for their behaviours and achievements, you can actually use the celebration of success as a learning tool. Reflecting on the detail of achievements informs you on how and why you got there. It gives you the opportunity to use the information as a guide when tackling your next challenge or project, what did you do, how did you do it, what worked, how can it be replicated?

For a high performing organisation, it’s critical that you are clear on what outstanding looks like, and showcase the people or projects that achieve the vision to set the precedent for the rest of the organisation.

I’ll leave you with three words. Three words I don’t think you can be high performing without. Those are trust, respect and belief.

Trust in each other and in the organisation

Respect of your people and customers

Belief in yourselves and your vision

If you can instill those three behaviours in your leaders and subsequently your people, it will open up huge opportunities for your organisation.