Throughout business research and literature there is a significant focus on BOTH high-performance organisations AND high-engagement organisations, alternatively called ”great places to work”. In our leadership programmes we ask the question: Can you have BOTH a high-performance and a high-engagement workplace? The ensuing debates are usually vigorous and dynamic.
"We’re so focused on getting the job done (sales generated, products produced, costs contained) that anything that distracts from that takes a back seat. We know in our hearts that recognition works but it’s a distraction." Ben Eubanks
One group will argue that a high-performance organisation necessitates a very disciplined, focused, no-frills approach to work, with stretch targets and strong performance management that allows no slackers or room for mistakes.
A second group will argue that an engaging work environment requires space for individuality, and time for deeper discussions about purpose, motivation, potential, and facilitation of greater socialisation. In this kind of environment, there is less pressure to perform in the short term, but more flexibility for people to find their unique area of talent and contribution, and engage with energy and enthusiasm over the longer term. Can these two opposing cultures be reconciled?
A third group will argue that you cannot have one without the other. People will really feel engaged only when they are working with other high-performing individuals in effective teams, sharing fairly in the rewards. The right kind of high-performance culture will attract people who are motivated by achievement and stretch targets and who will craft out their contribution while delivering the results in creative and innovative ways.
Any of these arguments holds true, depending on the culture that is created, shaped and role-modelled by the leaders of the organisation. In these scenarios, culture and leadership are the distinguishing factors represented by the standards and practices of recruitment, on-boarding, performance and reward management, leadership development, innovation, communication, meeting behaviour, etcetera.
2.Building capability for high-performance, high-engagement organisations
The capabilities required for managers and leaders in these turbulent yet fascinating times of transformation and change are as follows:
Great place to work
Innovative and strategic thinking Strategic alignment and traction Structure and role alignment Talent management Change management Culture transformation
Transformational leadership Engagement Enablement Empowerment Leading high performance teams Holding crucial conversations