Establishing a Culture of Performance

Having discussed the internal drivers of sales culture, the next step is to explore what leaders can do to establish a culture of performance. Since culture is largely defined by human behavior and decision making, it’s important to understand there is no one size fits all approach. The variability within the three internal drivers makes that clear. Companies have unique sales strategies, leadership styles, and team compositions. So if there is no one right answer, then how does a company establish a culture of performance versus a culture of adequacy? I believe the key for leaders to build a culture of performance primarily relies on three factors; clarity, communication, and consistency.

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Clarity

Every company has a culture; the question is whether that culture has a clear purpose. This clear purpose is largely defined by executive management and gives their team a roadmap on what is desirable behavior. By not providing clarity, the culture is much more vulnerable to counterproductive or even destructive behavior. Strong leaders understand this threat and respond by providing a clear purpose for their team to embrace and rally around.

In the business community the most well established approach for providing a clarity of purpose is the mission statement (why the team exists), the vision (where the team is being led), and the values (what the team believes in). Management studies have shown that those three statements can provide a strong foundation if communicated effectively and managed to consistently.

Communication

Leaders must communicate the importance of the cultural standards with frequency and through a variety of methods. Regular communication not only reminds the team what the standards are, they also highlight how important those standards are to company leadership. It is that link between cultural standards and the leadership that gives those standards the credibility they need to influence behavior. Without the authority of leadership behind them, cultural standards quickly lose their influence and are forgotten.

Using different methods to communicate cultural standards helps ensure proper buy-in and understanding. Some examples of effective media are company-wide recognition, one on one reviews, and newsletters or other type of written communication.

Consistency

The hardest part about building a culture of performance is to ensure the tenets of the culture are being exhibited consistently. Leaders have to be aware that they are the standard bearers of company culture. The legitimacy of the company culture is largely judged by whether leader’s management style is consistent with what the company has stated it believes in. Unfortunately, there is little room for error in this matter. Hypocrisy, quickly poisons the well, and leaves the performance culture vulnerable from within.

The ability to be consistent is one of the most important factors in determining what values, mission, and vision should be chosen for a company. If the company identifies tenets that are inconsistent with their management philosophy or cannot realistically be adhered to in a competitive market, then they will lose their effectiveness and should be set aside.

If leaders are able establish a purpose for their employees, communicate it often and provide consistent leadership they have laid the groundwork for a culture of performance. A culture that embraces the right behavior, rallies to overcome obstacles, and consistently outperforms the competition. To gain a better understanding of what drives your culture speak to some key employees who are willing to share their perspective in a productive way.

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