Performance is often perceived as an abstract concept by many who work in corporate environments. This is especially true if there is a disconnect between the managerial staff and employees, leaving a lot of criticism and feedback unsaid. Whether you already work in a startup environment or aim to create your own small business in the near future, creating a performance-driven culture can represent the difference between success and failure.
According to Forbes, 96% of employees believe that showcasing empathy is an important factor in advancing your business’ employee retention while highly engaged teams have shown an increase in overall profitability for their companies by up to 21%. At the end of the day, performance is what will drive your startup forward and help it grow into a business which you can be proud of.
In order to achieve that, your coworkers, associates, and B2B partners alike will have to be satisfied with the business culture and everyday workflow you’ve created. That being said, let’s take a closer look at why performance-driven cultures differentiate from their counterparts and how you can make the most of that fact for your startup environment.
Why Should You Create a Performance-Driven Culture?
Before we dive into the “how”, let’s briefly tackle the “why” of performance-driven business cultures. Contrary to popular belief, emphasizing performance in your startup will not result in lower employee satisfaction or drops in motivation (if implemented correctly).
Samantha Nicole, HR Specialist at Studicus spoke on the matter recently: “Opting to put an emphasis on your business’ performance, coupled with meaningful professional development and networking opportunities for your employees can drastically improve both their productivity and motivation across the board.” To make that point even clearer, we can point out several game-changing benefits brought on by a performance-driven business culture, including the following points:
- Dramatic increase in employee retention
- Positive brand reputation and competitive positioning
- Improved quality of shipped products/services
- Streamlined onboarding and recruitment processes
- Unity and shared accountability among employees
1. Emphasize your Brand Values
Now that we have a better understanding of why a performance-driven culture can be beneficial for your startup or small business, let’s talk about how to put those goals into perspective. Your brand values are arguably the most valuable part of your business’ identity. Long-term goals, company vision, visual identity as well as the values you wish to transfer to your coworkers can prove highly motivational in your performance-driven culture creation.
Define your brand values in a documented form and make sure that everyone in your company is familiar with the rough outline of what your startup stands for and what impact it aims to make on the global market. Once your coworkers identify with your ideas and business goals, shifting them towards a performance-driven culture will be much easier.
2. Lower the Cross-Department Barrier
One of the worst banes of creating camaraderie and networking within your startup is the fact that each employee has a different job description (JD). It’s quite easy for people to distance themselves from one another and speak only about work-related topics which can result in a drop both in motivation and performance. To that end, you should create a work environment in which your coworkers will cooperate, share feedback and find team-based solutions for the betterment of your startup for everyone involved.
Nathan Clarke, Head of Content Department at WoWGrade spoke on the topic: “It’s essential for juniors and seniors of different departments and backgrounds to work together as often as possible to keep everyone informed of current projects. This approach to cross-department cooperation can result in highly-informed, highly-driven employees who are up-to-date with a lot of what is going on in the business as a whole, rather than only their own JDs.”
3. Facilitate Coworker Feedback
Chances are that your coworkers won’t know each other from past professional or personal relations before they find themselves in your startup. Once the honeymoon period is over however, people can start holding grudges and keeping comments to themselves or worse yet – start gossiping. This can become highly detrimental to your performance-driven culture, meaning that you should get in front of the issue as efficiently as possible.
Create a safe and friendly environment for your coworkers to communicate in a constructive and (as much as it’s possible) objective manner. This can be done in several ways, including roundtable conversations, coworker lunch breaks, a weekend trip for everyone, etc. Don’t allow tensions to grow between your coworkers, especially in a small business environment. Once they grow beyond their differences and criticisms, their performance and teamwork will improve drastically as a result.
4. Group Development Seminars
As a small business owner, your task should be to always be on the lookout for employee development opportunities. You can combine that with group-centric cooperation and team-building through professional seminars, conferences, and events in your industry. These types of events are inclusive in nature, allow for both inter-company and industry networking, as well as professional skills development for your business’ greater benefit.
Peter Mayhew, Head of HR at Is Accurate discussed on the topic in greater detail: “A combination of personal and professional development is a perfect tonic for employee retention, motivation, and productivity. However, if employees register an event as “not worth their time”, it can have adverse effects on your efforts – make sure to choose events for your employees wisely.”
5. Showcase High Performers
In order to make “performance” as less abstract as possible, you should resort to a modernized, creative version of “employee of the month”. You can easily showcase high-performing individuals in your startup through your mailing list, blog, social media channels and most importantly – in your own offices.
Create small appreciation events each time a coworker achieves something which could be considered amazing and beneficial to your startup and its employees. This will enable a performance-driven culture to grow on an ongoing basis and ensure that your coworkers strive to better themselves with each passing week.
6. Casual Get-Togethers Matter
Not every event or meeting has to revolve around end-of-the-world matters in regards to your startup. Sometimes, all you need is a casual lunch, a trip to the beach or a night out with your coworkers to ease the overall tension. Present your idea about going out casually with no professional strings attached and listen to your coworkers’ feedback in regards to potential things to do.
Casual meetings are an amazing opportunity to find out who your coworkers really are, what drives them as people and professionals, as well as the “why” behind their employment in your company. This information can be used to create a much more accommodating and performance-driven environment for everyone in the weeks following the get-together.
7. Enable a Bottom-Up Culture
Lastly, the most important of a performance-driven mindset is to enable a bottom-up culture in your startup as soon as possible. A junior employee shouldn’t be afraid to approach you as the startup’s CEO with new ideas or thoughts on current and future projects. The same goes for developers who may have insight into copywriting or designers who come up with a great idea about a new marketing tagline.
Bottom-up cultures enable employees to feel like equals both among themselves and among different departments and in regards to you as their employer. Don’t create an authoritarian environment where your word is law – this type of mindset will not only deter from a performance-driven culture you aim to develop but also result in a fall in employee retention down the line.
Collaboration Equals Performance (Conclusion)
It’s easy to summarize what makes a performance-driven culture in two words – coworker collaboration. No amount of money, strict deadlines or career-ending threats will convince your coworkers to work harder if they simply do not identify with your startup goals and culture as a whole. Treat your small business environment as a small family environment and you will undoubtedly reach new levels of success through your newly-defined startup culture.
Written by guest blogger: Melanie Sovann
Bio: Melanie Sovann is a graduated Editor and Senior Writer at Trust My Paper. Her career’s focus lies in professional blogging and editorials where she aims to broaden her writing and editing skills through informative content. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys to swim and walk with her pet dogs.