Consistently superior results can only be achieved with a high-performance team unfailingly executing on all cylinders. How does a leader build a corporate culture to help make that happen? Here are answers to FAQs to get you started:
Q: What are the first steps in building a high-performance team?
Aggregating a leadership team with complementary strengths and common core values gets the ball rolling. But it is the strategic planning process that establishes your path to success. Articulating your corporate vision (who you want to be) and mission statement (what you strive to do, how you want to do it and for whom) will help you formulate your strategic goals. Once you have crystalized your thinking on your objectives, you are ready to tactically build the team to help you achieve them!
Q: Who should be involved in the hiring process?
One thing is certain: the “hire/don’t hire” decision should not be based on the opinion of just one person. Supervisors, peers and subordinates can provide valuable information and unique perspectives when included in the hiring process but they must be educated. Before the hiring team is assembled, the hiring manager should collaborate with leadership and others to define the responsibilities of the role, needed competencies and measures of success. Whatever the mix of HR, outside recruiters and interviewers, gathering the team to outline the role profile, primary interview objectives and important lines of questioning is a best practice. Upon completion of interviews the hiring manager should re-gather the group to collect feedback and, if not including them in the decision and heavily factor their views into the final choice.
Q: Why are personality assessments an important hiring tool?
Most leaders have suffered through at least one bad hire and understand the immense cost to the bottom line and employee morale. An informal hiring process and relying on “gut feel” can often lead to the wrong hiring choice. Personality assessments delve beyond skills, work history and first impressions by highlighting a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, personal values and behavioral tendencies – important barometers of likely role and organizational culture “fit.” Use of this information can help you narrow the candidate field, provide the basis for more targeted interview questions and more probing reference checks, and ultimately make more informed hiring decisions.
Q: Do I need to have an onboarding process?
If you want new employees to quickly perform to their potential, the answer is YES. Research has shown that companies with an established onboarding program are more likely to experience faster time-to-productivity, greater employee engagement and higher retention rates. Whatever the design of your onboarding process, your new employee should walk away with a clear understanding of the company (history, values, vision, mission, players, and processes), how their role contributes to the company’s goals, and definitions of success in their first year. Start the process upon offer acceptance with things like HR and benefits paperwork, welcome calls and access to employee information portals, extend it beyond Day One, team up your new hire with a go-to mentor/colleague and check in regularly in the first few months – and then reap the benefits!
Q: Once the team is hired, how can I create a high-performance corporate culture?
Your corporate vision and values will begin to shape your company culture, but as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” It starts with establishing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals, outlining tactics to achieve them, assigning responsibility and holding yourself and others accountable for results. Be sure to “walk your talk,” solicit employee feedback, communicate often, and align rewards with not just performance, but behaviors consistent with the culture you want to create. A high-performance culture takes time to create and consistent leadership focus but will lay the foundation for your long-term success.
Elise Chowdhry is the managing principal of Optimum Advisors LLC, a management consulting firm that helps leaders of middle-market private equity and finance firms position themselves for multigenerational success through greater alignment of their people, processes and strategic objectives. Learn more at www.optimumadvisors.com.