A high performance culture is crucial for organisations that want to unlock their full potential. 

But what exactly is it, and how can you create this environment?

In this guide, we’ll provide the key steps for driving high performance tailored to your business.

But first and fundamentally…

Define Your Why

There’s no point even trying to rewrite what Simon Sinek said. According to Sinek, a ‘why statement’ is 

“The compelling higher purpose that inspires us and acts as the source of all we do”

If you’ve not yet defined your ‘why’, think about:

  • When are you at your best?
  • When are you at your worst?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • When do you feel most energised?
  • What is the core purpose of your role?
  • Why does it matter?

Don’t worry if you’re a little confused about your personal ‘why’ and the career or company ‘why’; this is totally normal. They naturally overlap. 

After all, your ‘why statement’ needs to be all encompassing of both of these worlds. If your work is not aligned to your personal ‘why’, then this would usually prompt you to reassess the work you are doing and make some changes!

Defining your ‘why’ acts a bit like a North Star. It helps you navigate and provides a sense of direction. It helps you be crystal clear what you are trying to achieve and therefore what good (or success) looks like.

Once you have this in place, you’re ready to start creating a high performance culture, which can be sustained.

5 Critical Steps to Creating a High Performing Culture

As a leader you will probably have an intuitive sense of high performance – the pace, passion and results you want to see. But do you have a process you use to set up your team for success or do you have a strategy of hope?  

The ultimate goal is to set-up and develop a team who can move from being managed by you to ultimately being self-managed, with your role changing from day-to-day management to one of a true leader.

So, with your ‘why statement’ (or purpose) in place, here are 5 critical steps you can follow create and maintain a high-performance culture:

1. Build the Team

Use your ‘why statement’, your purpose, to act as a magnet when building your team. It will appeal to those who are aligned to it and serve to put off those who aren’t. 

This obviously works when building a new team from scratch and when recruiting into vacant positions. But it is also useful in helping those already in the team realise it might not be the place they will find most fulfilling for their future career.

Secondly, involve the team in defining a shared vision and goals. You do this through a facilitated discussion or use something structured like the Graphic Gameplan tool. 

Then, define meaningful roles and ensure you have the right people in the right roles, each playing to their strengths.

Ultimately, focus on building trust and building deep rooted relationships. As a leader to do this you will need to consistently:

  • Listen and understand others
  • Be relied upon to do what you promise
  • Behave and make decisions aligned to the vision and strategy
  • Deliver the results promised
  • Operate consistently to agreed values
  • Have a clear leadership brand
Cheerful diverse friends reading document at table

2. Create the Environment

Create clear team processes that will guide and enable your team to do what they need to do and in the way they need to do it. How will the team work day-to-day, what structures will guide them, does the environment enable them and add value or constrain them? 

Depending on the specifics of your team and what they do, you may have to think about:

  • What governance, controls or regulation HAS to be in place?
  • How will they innovate?
  • How will they interact, communicate and share information?
  • How will you encourage collaboration and discourage silo thinking?
  • How will employee performance be monitored and reviewed?
  • How will risks be identified and managed?
  • How will standards be maintained?
  • How will people be held to account?

Think about team meetings; how will you make them exciting, challenging and productive?

Thinking about how the team will develop and also be supported.

3. Focus on Health and Wellbeing

Poor team health and poor individual wellbeing will only ever inhibit performance. 

From a team perspective, define the team characteristics that you’ll see when it’s performing as you want it to. Then think about the contra-indicators; what will be in evidence when the team isn’t performing?  

You can use these indicators as your own personal temperature check, or even put them out to the team to get their views on what’s working well and what’s not.

Individual wellbeing is also essential for driving high performance. We’re human beings after all – if our physical, mental or financial wellbeing isn’t good, we can’t leave those issues at the door when we come to work. They will of course remain with us and inevitably inhibit performance. 

Our blog article on wellbeing in the workplace provides plenty of further food for thought on this topic.

4. Value People and Constantly Develop Your Team

It sounds obvious, but treating your team as human beings, valuing them for who they are and what they do is a pretty good starting point!  Recognise everyone’s individuality and unique needs, but build on what holds them together.

Be interested in them as a person and not just as an employee. Be flexible (where you can) be supportive and surprise them from time to time. And, hold regular reviews to give (and receive) feedback.

Also, use Action Learning to work on real problems, issues and challenges. This process will allow you to take action and learn as individuals, as a team and as an organisation.

Furthermore, provide opportunities to learn, training and development, opportunities to fail (safely), coaching, a chance to work on a new project or take on new responsibilities.

And, last but not least, celebrate successes, recognise team and individual contributions and reward appropriately.

5. Inspiring Leadership

Graham Wilson in his book “Leadership Laid Bare! The Naked Truth of Great Leadership” says:

“Great leaders awaken possibility in people to deliver extraordinary results”.

He goes on to set-out 7 timeless leadership principles for the 21st century and asserts that great leaders:

 “create a high performance environment where success is inevitable”.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your leadership role. Without it, the team will never achieve its full potential. 

Think about the most successful teams on the planet and the one thing they all have in common is outstanding leadership. James Kerr’s book “Legacy. What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life” is an excellent read and one we’d recommend for all current and aspiring leaders if you haven’t already read it. 

Consider where you are in your development journey. 

Are you equipped with the right tools to unlock the true potential of your team and create a high performance culture? 

Do you have the right mindset and communication skills? 

If not, talk to us – we can point you in the right direction to find help.


It’s important to remember that creating or changing culture is a process that requires patience as it won’t happen overnight. 

Stay focused, persevere and take the time to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest victories along the way. 

The journey requires perseverance and compassion. But remarkable things happen when people feel truly empowered. That makes the effort so rewarding.

Reach out to Petaurum HR if you need guidance tailored to your unique business goals and culture. Our people experts are here to help.

Also, if you’re interested in delving deeper into further driving employee performance, be sure to explore our other articles, here and here.