Building a performance culture

Building a performance culture requires a change in both values (e.g., shared beliefs and fundamental assumptions) and practices (e.g., forms, policies, and procedures).

Organizations often expect great improvements by just starting a new program or changing policy. They forget the hard work of changing the fundamental beliefs that guide employee and supervisor behaviors. Effective change requires both.


While high performing organizations may differ in many ways, all share certain core values:

  1. Individual performance is linked to organizational performance. Organizational goals, objectives, and performance targets are cascaded into individual performance plans and key results expected. Individual performance results impact the success of organizational deliverables.
  2. Performance makes a difference, both good and bad. Solid performance is expected. Exceptional performance is recognized and rewarded. Poor performance is corrected, or the employee is removed.
  3. Supervisors are only successful when employees are successful. Supervisors are expected to help employees achieve results and grow. Those with high performing teams are rewarded, and those with under-performing teams are removed from supervisory roles.


Practices are the tools organizations use to make a performance culture visible and tangible. They are the programs, policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities, and forms and other documents.

  1. Communication of executive commitment. The chief executive clearly communicates to all staff his or her commitment to the values of a high performing culture. This commitment is repeated and reinforced in business communications. Other senior leaders and managers repeat and cascade the commitment down through the organization in their own communications.
  2. Organizational performance management. The organization has a vision, a mission, and a strategic plan that has clear goals, objectives, performance measure and targets, and strategies. A process exists for regular organizational performance monitoring, reporting, and review.
  3. Performance planning. Organizational goals, objectives, performance measures and targets are cascaded through manager and employee performance plans and key results expected. Employee results expected are explained in measurable or observable terms. Benchmarks are communicated for both successful and outstanding performance. Individual development plans identify training and development needs and commitments.
  4. Performance coaching, feedback, and evaluation. Coaching and feedback are provided both when needed and at regular intervals. Performance achievements and individual development are consistently documented.
  5. Corrective action and discipline. Using a systematic approach, underperforming employees are identified, corrected, moved to another position, or terminated.
  6. Recognition and reward. A process exists to distinguish, recognize, and reward employees who exceed performance expectations.
  7. Training and development. All supervisors receive initial and refresher training in employee performance planning, coaching, feedback, evaluation, corrective action and discipline, and recognition and reward. Employees are informed of the performance management systems, including the strategic plan’s goals, objectives, measures, and strategies. Employees receive instruction on the performance planning and evaluation process.
  8. Management accountability. Performance plans, interim reviews, and evaluations are audited for both completion and quality. Supervisor performance is measured and regularly reported to senior management. Supervisors who fail to meet expectations are subject to corrective action and/or discipline.
  9. Employee confidence. A process exists to measure employees' confidence in their personal connection to achieving organizational goals, supervisors' investments in their success, management’s ability to effectively address performance problems, and management's commitment to building and maintaining a performance culture.
  10. Resource allocation. The chief executive and senior leadership allocate sufficient resources (staff, budget, time) to successfully use all performance management systems, including individual development plans and performance awards.
Last updated
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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