A high performance organization is easy to spot but not easy to create.

One thing is for sure. They don’t just happen by chance.  We’ve all had an encounter, at work or in our personal lives, when an experience exceeded our expectations. In some cases it’s because of one interaction with one highly competent employee. In the case of high performance organizations, such an experience arises from multiple interactions with multiple employees reflecting a pervasive culture of excellence. In the manufacturing world, just to make sure we’re on the same page, here’s what a high performance organization looks like:

  • Everything is clean and there’s a sense of order and pride.
  • The pace of work may be fast, but it’s controlled.
  • People’s faces reflect focus, concentration and confidence, with minimal stress.
  • When you talk to people on the floor, they clearly understand customer needs and are mentally engaged in making the business a success.
  • There’s a generally positive vibe and energy.

Beyond first impressions, some of the other attributes of a high performance organization include:

  • Employees have a deep understanding of the company strategy.
  • Employees understand how their job supports that strategy.
  • They know what operational metrics and performance measures matter most to the business.
  • When issues arise, as they always do, people understand how to problem solve and get things back on track.
  • When process changes and improvements are made, they are sustained.

But if you’re reading this, that’s not where you are. So where do you start? Whether it’s at the site level or company-wide, all high performance organizations start with leadership. Business leaders have to more than want it though. They have to work hard every day at creating and maintaining the key elements of a high performance organization. As we outline in this TBM management briefing, "Five Attributes of Large Companies with Superlative Value Creation", this daily leadership commitment starts with:

  1. Focusing on a few critical goals,
  2. Thorough planning and execution,
  3. Process standardization (including management processes),
  4. Disciplined measurement and reporting systems, and
  5. The ability to learn and move forward.

Sounds straightforward, I know, but if it were easy every company would be a high performance organization.  Now you know where to start. The rest is up to you. For additional advice and case studies on how to build a high performance organization, check out The Management System section on the TBM Consulting Group website.