How To Create A High Performing Culture


Jeff Boss, Contributor

May 19, 2015

The individual motivations that propel each and every worker are impossible to appeal to at mass. In fact, just motivating a single person can be challenging let alone encouraging 100 or 1,000 employees to exert another one percent effort.

There are two approaches organizational leaders often take to stir the motivational pot and turn those employee frowns upside down (if need be). First–and these are in no particular order–there’s the, “We are going to change the world with this killer new product!” approach that may motivate some people, but not everyone. Then, there’s the, “We’re going to turn this company around! Yeee-haaw!” tactic that, again, energizes some but mainly inspires a rolling of the eyes.

While the intent to motivate is positive, there’s a drawback to either of the above motivational tactics: the company is at the center of  focus rather than the person. Here’s why.

At the end of the day, people don’t really care about the company, they care about themselves. I don’t mean this in a selfish or self-interested way but let’s be honest, if people cared more for the company then turnover wouldn’t exist.

What people do care about is something meaningful; something that challenges and inspires them to grow personally and professionally; and something to which they can contribute and improve.

So how do you integrate these principles into company culture? Read on.

Ask, don’t tell. No, not what you’re thinking of. What I’m referring to here is the power of choice—not so much from the proactive perspective (although that’s important, too) but from the perspective of senior to subordinate relationship. Here’s what I mean.

A research experiment by Daniel Kahneman took two groups of people and held a lottery drawing. The first group was assigned a ticket number; the second group was given a blank piece of paper and told to write their own number. Then—and this is the twist—the researchers asked to buy the lottery tickets back.

Logical thinking would lead one to believe that there wouldn’t be any difference in the amount paid for a participant’s lotto ticket, but that’s not what the results indicated. More so, what the researchers discovered offers valuable insight into how to create a high performing culture: The participants who wrote their own number charged five times more than those who were assigned a ticket.

What does this mean for company culture? It means then when offered the freedom to choose, our commitment to results increases fivefold.

Create a Christmas-like culture. I always loved the surprise of Christmas as a kid. Come to think of it, I still enjoy it as an adult. But there’s something to be said for the element of surprise accompanied with the aspect of reward. Surprises are exciting, and a rewarding surprise is even better. Now, if we pair the unexpected with recognition we create a whole new (intangible) aspect of compensation that boosts employee performance. If you don’t believe it, check this out…

In the same aforementioned study, experimenters assigned one group of participants to a photocopier who found a dime in the coin-return slot. The other group? Nada. Afterward, the participants who found that extra ten cents rated their satisfaction at 6.5 on a scale of one to seven, while the other group rated 5.6.

The takeaway here is that unexpected rewards have a positive impact on our mental states, and therefore our productivity.

How do you compel high performance?

This article was written by Jeff Boss from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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