The Four Pillars of High Performance organizations. Does your organization fit in?
What’s a Pillar?
A pillar is an upright engineering structure that holds up the ceiling on a building. In this case, High Performance being the ceiling. Therefore, without these pillars, high performance can’t be supported. In this scenario, you need these pillars as step one in order to have step two. Pillars come before the ceiling.
What’s High Performance?
High Performance is best described by Brendan Burchard as encompassing these qualities.
I think Brendan does a good job of giving readers an overview of what constitutes High Performance in an individual.
I also write about High Performance Teams as exhibiting the following traits.
- Strong sense of ownership
- Empowering leadership
- Open communication
- Developing new approaches
- Focus on time/task/quality
I’ve written another post outlining 10 Lessons on High Performance. I won’t summarize it here but it’s a quick read if you’re interested.
Finally, let’s move into what the Four Pillars of High Performance are!
You must be alert to your organization’s challenges, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You must know not only internal issues, but external ones also. Doing a SWOT analysis for your organization or department is a good first step. However, make sure that you know how to properly conduct one. Too often, I see well meaning individuals conduct incorrect SWOT analyses for their organizations. They’re well meaning because they really want to help. What makes them incorrect is that they don’t properly account for what’s an internal threat and what’s an external threat.
For example, a changing demographic means that in a few years, your community may look, speak, act, and even think differently than you do now. That’s an external threat, there’s nothing you can do about that. An example of an internal threat is your inability to retain staff, that’s internal because you’re doing it to yourself!
Your organization must be agile in it’s performance. It must be ready to increase or decrease services or products at a moment’s notice. This is increasingly representative of our new economy, hence the increase of contract and temporary workers. This is much easier said than done. If you’re a church or nonprofit, you can do this by leveraging contract workers or staffing agencies.
Some churches want every individual to be working there to be a devoted Christian, that’s great but likely not realistic. Anyway, does it matter if your video editor isn’t a Christian? If it does, then there are Christian video editors living abroad who’ll happily edit your video podcasts. They’ll also do it for a fraction of the price as a full time video editor would.
Your organization must adapt to change. Knowing about change and being able to adapt to it is different from actually pulling the trigger and adapting. Think of it this way, knowing you must adapt is the mental follow through. It’s the equivalent of making a New Year’s resolution of going to the gym. It’s great that you mentally know the first step. However, true adaptation requires a directional change. True adaptability means that you make the resolution and follow through.
It means scaling up services and being able to scale down. It means abandoning your pet project because it no longer makes sense. It means withdrawing your request for a new staff person because it’s clear that another team really needs one. At the department level, it means doing what’s best for the organization, not your department/team. Most importantly, it means being able to follow through on what’s best!
Get alignment and keep it! You must stay on your mission. Again, easier said than done. Have you ever heard the expression about “firing on all cylinders”? That’s what happens when a car’s engine is functioning the way it’s supposed to. It means that the engine gives you horsepower and thus, forward motion. It means you move forward! When all cylinders are not firing, the car is not efficient and even the tiniest forward motion takes a lot of resources, if it happens at all.
Every decision and activity must ultimately move you toward your long term goals. If it doesn’t, you’re not maximizing your resources. This is critical to think through because everything you say yes to represents something else that you must say no to. That’s what opportunity cost is.