TBM CEO, Bill Remy, and Electromac CEO, Desmond Griffiths, Chat about High-Performance Culture, Measurement, and Running a Successful Business

In recent years we’ve worked with clients in a variety of industries to establish more effective management systems on the path to becoming a high-performance organization. We’ve helped them change their focus from tools and isolated processes to systems that optimize human capital, establish a rigorous management discipline and create an unrelenting focus on performance improvement.

When Desmond Griffiths, President and CEO of Electromac, and I spoke last month, we talked about what his company does to maintain peak performance. (Listen to the Podcast recording). Much of our conversation was about Electromac’s culture, and how their high-performance culture supports operational excellence.

The culture of an organization is one of those things that’s easy to see and feel when you’re there, but it’s difficult to pinpoint where it comes from or how it’s created. But it’s no secret really. It comes from leadership, from the actions and example that leaders set every day. It arises from what leaders talk about, what they emphasize, how they approach problems, and how they encourage and recognize top performance. As Desmond said in our conversation, “Culture determines how business gets done.” You can implement a great management system, and teach people any number of problem-solving techniques, but without the culture and the leadership aspect of that you won't execute nearly as well.

What does that mean on a day-to-day level?

It starts with measurement. People need to understand how they are doing. They need to know if they’re winning or losing. They need to know if they’re winning the day. Effectively keeping score—typically using a variety of visual management tools—establishes the foundation for a performance-oriented culture where people can work hard as a team to get the job done. Building a high-performance culture also requires trust and communication. Leaders have to be willing to share challenges. Associates have to be able to bring up issues when they arise.

At TBM we’ve learned over the years that when you get more people working on a problem, and thinking about it, you generally find a better solution, and you find it more quickly. As Desmond noted, measuring and reporting performance and attacking problems as a team creates a high-performance culture that is constantly raising the bar. You end up focusing less on what the competition is up to, and more on beating yesterday’s performance. That culture of continually improving locks everyone in on what matters most and staying relevant in the eyes of your customers.