Generating and Sustaining High Performance

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Our last article introduced a recent Exemplary Performance (EP) project where we studied high performers from a pool of over 12,000 managers in a major high technology company. (Click here to read Part One). EP interviewed these managers to capture how they were able to generate and sustain high performance.  Based on these interviews, we produced a Profile of Management Excellence (PoME) which included the key accomplishments, excellence indicators, critical tasks and other data.

The managers that we interviewed identified six major accomplishments that they produced to drive greater business results.  These accomplishments were:

  1. Accurate and appropriate measurement and tracking of individual and team performance.
  2. A team performance system where direct reports are supported in doing their best work.
  3. Qualified new employees with shortened time-to-competence.
  4. Consistent progress of direct reports toward career aspirations and development plans.
  5. Well-developed and highly competent direct reports and team.
  6. Group and team operational direction, excellence, and continuity.

This article will look at the second accomplishment – a team performance system. The Excellence Indicators that would define a strong team performance system included:

  • Changes to the system are quickly implemented without compromising team or individual performance.
  • Direct reports demonstrate that they know their role, value, and contribution to their team, organization, and the company.
  • Managers remove process barriers that prohibit the team from focusing on business objectives.
  • Direct reports recruit others to join manager’s team.

Here is a subset of the Key Tasks that the high performing managers used to produce this accomplishment:

  • Establish a recognition and reward system that supports the attainment of organizational strategies and goals.
  • Remove barriers that impact team business results.
  • Establish and maintain a method for giving performance feedback to direct reports.
  • Foster, promote, or build strong team connections and interpersonal relationships.

How do we leverage a Profile like the PoME to architect a high performance management system?  Our model for a high performance system, illustrated below, has six subsystems or components that can be adjusted by leadership and must be aligned to enable the highest levels of performance.  The problem we encountered in most of our clients is that no one person has responsibility of all of subsystems and there is no shared standard for success for judging the adequacy of each of those subsystems.  That’s where we leverage the Profile.  It provides the common goal – the accomplishments that need to be produced – and the shared criteria for judging success – the Excellence Indicators. This allows the subsystem ‘owners’ to manage each subsystem against a common standard.

The Exemplary Performance System

For example, the owner of the Rewards, Recognition and Consequences process can look at the second Excellence Indicator and ensure that this process is communicating the same message about the team’s contribution/value as do the team’s training materials and recruiting materials.  Likewise, the team can work with key process owners to remove process barriers that impact team business results.

In a perfectly architected high performance management system, all of the subsystems would be perfectly aligned, allowing every contributor to achieve high levels of success.  Reach out to us at: We can help as you architect a high performance management approach for your team, department or enterprise. We’ve been doing this for decades!

NOTE: To read more about this process, get a copy of Exemplary Performance – Driving Business Results by Benchmarking Your Star Performers by Dr. Paul H. Elliott and Dr. Al Folsom.

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