Article (March-2019)

Articles

It has to be initiated by C-level executives

Vinod Bidwaik

Designation : -   Vice President -HR

Organization : -  Alfa Laval India Private Limited, Pune

01-Mar-2019

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Do you think that developing and maintaining a high performance culture is practically possible and easy in organisations or it is merely a buzzword far away from reality and difficult to achieve?
VB A high-performance culture is a set of behaviours and norms that leads an organization to achieve great results by setting clear business goals, defining employees' responsibilities, creating a trusting environment, and encouraging employees to continuously grow and reinvent themselves.

It also means that high performance culture is possible if the top management is willing to do the same. But the Top management should be not being tolerant with mediocrity.

Organizations having focus more on performance get better business results and it is proven. High performance culture is possible with dedicated efforts.

After all, we need to understand that business is set up for specific purpose; the main purpose is to make the impact on something and it is not possible without profits. You need money to make the larger positive impact. It is important to understand how employees are aware about such impact; how they understand that their each action has the consequences on the future. Understanding this creates the culture of high performance.

What should be the key initiatives for creating high performance culture in your view and how do you define them?
VB It is a journey. If the organization and teams are dysfunctional and are in the trap of mediocrity, you need to do the surgery. It is about creating the example in the organization. It starts with C level executives. If top management favours somebody at the cost of performance, then it is very difficult to create the culture of high performance.

You can start this journey with

  • Identifying core values and behaviours expected from everybody in the organization;
  • Translating these values and behaviours in actionable points;
  • Communicating these values and behaviours on a daily basis with some examples while speaking with employees;
  • Incorporating values and behaviours in your performance management system;
  • Role modelling by management and managers is very important to create the culture;
  • Creating the system of feedback and two-way dialogue in the organization and system of handling poor performers. Strict but human approach while handling poor performance is necessary.
  • Creating the eco-system and mental safety nets so that employees take risk, there is no high-performance culture without taking risk.
  • Reward & recognition system.
In this complex process, what challenges and issues do you expect HR should be ready to address?

VB HR role is to be a change agent and catalyst in the process. Main challenge of HR is their understanding about the business and their ability to respond to the new a way of working. Main accountability of the change is with C-level executives, but HR role is to drive such change in the organization.

HR also needs to know about the political and bureaucratic dimensions of the organization.

Another challenge to HR is about understanding of human behaviours. Unfortunately HR professionals are not properly trained on the concept of HR business partners. In India the term HRBP is widely used but rarely understood, hence the big issue.

Does high performance mean high pressure and more stress on employees? How do you propose to handle this side effect?
VB Oh no. Not at all. High performance culture doesn't mean pressure and stress. You need to create the culture so that employees enjoy the work. There are organizations which have high performance culture with less stress. Optimum stress is necessary, but this does not mean pressure. It is the part of life. The question is how organizations support to handle this with best practices, policies and freedom to employees.

Having a high performing culture is a matter of direct influence from the top? In such absence, what strategies should HR adopt to keep employees' morale high to maintain high performing culture?
VB HR also can create the high-performance culture by 

  • Hiring for the potential,
  • Creating the learning culture in the organizations,
  • Having strong performance and talent management practices,
  • Being gatekeeper and helping manager to deal with poor performers,
  • Educating line managers to be leaders and not just supervisors.
  • HR also can investigate following areas
  • Too many layers slow down the decision making and energy of employees?
  • How much time employees spend on internal issues instead of their core jobs or customers?
  • How much employees are busy with conflicts and just ticking the processes?
  • Are employees empowered & managers willing to take risks on their talent?
  • Are there too many initiatives and people are spending their energy handling those?
In organisations having diverse workforce and multi-generational effect where technology is fast coming in to mainstream employee processes, what kind of obstacles and psychological blocks you foresee in creating high performing culture and their possible solution?

VB People fear because they think that they will lose something. People resist change because of fear; fear of losing power, job, position and status.

I already said that creating learning organization is the key. Culture of learning and agility will support to have bigger impact and change.

People change because of Pain, Gain and Vision. And these three also can be the psychological blocks. They don't understand that what they will lose, if they don't change, what they will gain something if they change and they don't see the larger, bigger picture of the change.

Solution of psychological block is in same pain, gain & vision. Help them to realise this.