Creating a Results-Driven Culture to Find Your Road to Recovery

Just thinking about how to lead an organization in a slow economic recovery can dampen your spirit, unless you recognize this is exactly the best time to create a results-driven culture.

Signature i, after studying conventional wisdom and the management literature, has developed a list of eight basic factors that can move your organization from dysfunctional to high performing organization. And in the two leadership workshops where we field-tested our organizational self-assessment, people found they have lots of ways to improve that are well within their means. How does your organization measure up on these factors?

  1. Clarity of purpose and a sense of shared vision. The only way to get the results you want is to have a clear sense of direction. But our assessment doesn’t just ask if you have a vision, we probe whether you are putting it to work for you. 
  2. Open communications, transparency and trust.   Trust is the safety net that gives people the confidence to walk the high wire of performance. Do you have multiple channels for listening and sharing information? Or is some information off limits and do some people matter so little to you that you regularly leave them out of the loop?
  3. Continuous learning and capacity building. Many organizations and professionals give lip service to continuous learning, but few have aligned individual and team learning plans with their organizational priorities. Too many people race from task to task without evaluating their work and finding those lessons learned that can wring the profit from everyday processes and projects. 
  4. Right people in the right jobs.  For associations and nonprofits the right people includes both volunteer leaders and staff. To paraphrase Jim Collins, you have to get the right people on the bus and into the right seats.  With cost-cutting and hiring freezes, you definitely risk having the wrong seats empty in critical functions unless you are very careful about maintaining your core capabilities.    
  5. Right tools for the tasks.  Your tools should enhance your productivity and performance. We’re not just talking about technologies either; invest in the aesthetics of the work environment and support people in mobile and distributed workplaces.      
  6. Decision making speed and accountability.  Without clear lines of authority and empowerment, decisions can churn without resolution.  If everyone in your organization knows how decisions are made, this reduces resistance and delay. You can make decisions at the speed of change.  
  7. Measuring and celebrating results. High performance is defined by results not effort. Your metrics have to be tied to your goals and strategies and give you an early and easy to understand indicator of how you are doing. You are never too poor to say thank you. Celebrate individual and team results with recognition and rewards.  
  8. Innovation and risk taking.  High performance can only be sustained through change and innovation because the world is always changing. Results driven cultures encourage initiative and foster learning and the resilience to bounce back when good ideas fail…as they sometimes will.  

Now look back over this list. You can make progress on all eight of these basic factors just by doing what you already know good management requires.  Any gains you do make could bring you the additional resources to invest even more deeply in the people, systems and processes that turn good organizations into great ones. So squeeze the lemons from this bad economy through a results-driven culture and enjoy the lemonade.