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Watching the Economy by Clint Burdett CMC® FIMC

September 2010

So You Want to Be A High Performance Firm, What Do You Do?

By Clint Burdett CMC®

To create a high performance firm is a goal for many entrepreneurs and CEOs and is much discussed in the business press. Of course innovation and a customer focus lead the list of core competencies needed, but when I asked over 900 business leaders in seminars on strategic planning what they considered the attributes of a high performance firm, their opinions were more pragmatic and nearly universal.

Beyond salary, benefits and bonuses (the necessary monetary rewards), these practical approaches create a high performance environment and should be built into the organization.

  • A clear, focused method to present the vision, strategies (capital and organizational), and resulting goals, objectives and plans.
  • At all levels, a leader’s authority to respond quickly to customer wants or needs with a minimum number of decision-makers who must first review and approve a decision. This allows for mature risk taking, the second most important motivator for high end leaders.
  • Investing in employees and leaders’ education, development and facilitating relationships with peers in other best practice organizations. This is the most important recognition and motivator. Never underestimate the value of peer recognition inside and outside your organization.
  • A method where employees can understand their value to their organization and validate their contribution when they are successful.
  • Recognition for achievements that are planned and far exceed strategic or individual goals.
  • A method for constant sharing of information across the organization.
  • Frequent sharing of key financial information so the leaders understand the strength of sustainability across the organization.
  • A commitment to use a continuous improvement process. This allows the organization to reassess priorities and adjust, rather than get stuck in the mud.

Sounds easy, but it is not. A last comment about innovation; your customer’s best hints of what would really help them are discussed in the relationships between your and their employees at the lowest level. Systematically analyzing that information is where great ideas emerge. That is real customer focus.


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