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Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )


23rd Jun 2023

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5 Priorities for Becoming a More Strategic People Manager
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures

Embracing ESG: Building Trust, Seizing Opportunities, and Navigating Challenges

Insights from the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Symposium which took place on 1st June 2023.

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have become critical factors in organisational success.

Mary Cronin, an innovation specialist and sustainability expert, highlights the challenges faced by organisations in measuring and reporting reliable ESG data. However, she also emphasises the immense opportunities that arise from addressing these challenges and the importance of trust in driving progress.

The Waste Challenge: Turning Risks into Opportunities

One major challenge organisations face is the management of waste, including landfill and disposal practices. However, there is a vast opportunity to transform waste management into a sustainable and profitable practice. Waste can be segregated and repurposed as aggregates for roads and other construction projects. By implementing efficient waste management strategies, organisations can not only minimise their environmental impact but also gain the trust of customers and stakeholders. Demonstrating a commitment to responsible waste management enhances the reputation of an organisation and mitigates the risk of backlash or scepticism.

Driving New Markets through Regulations

New regulations are emerging that drive the adoption of sustainable practices and create new market opportunities. Organisations that proactively align their actions with these regulations safeguard their reputation, attract new customers, and create long-term value. Mary Cronin suggests integrating sustainability into performance reviews and designating a climate champion within organisations to ensure accountability. Collecting and tracking data on ESG performance is crucial for maintaining data integrity and facilitating effective decision-making.

Engaging stakeholders is paramount to building trust and creating a cohesive ESG story. Investors, customers, and employees increasingly demand transparency and accountability in ESG practices. Organisations need to identify and prioritise ESG risks, establish systems for tracking progress, and communicate their achievements to stakeholders. ESG should be viewed as a business imperative rather than a passing trend, as it drives sustainable growth and fosters long-term relationships with stakeholders.

Addressing the Skills and Resource Gap

A significant challenge lies in the shortage of people with expertise in ESG data analysis and management. This scarcity affects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular. However, government organisations like Enterprise Ireland can assist in preparing and implementing ESG activities. Building the necessary skills and capacities within organisations is essential. When hiring, organisations should consider the ESG expertise of candidates and engage with relevant entities like Enterprise Ireland to address their specific needs.

ESG considerations have evolved from being mere buzzwords to essential drivers of organizational success. Mary Cronin emphasises the importance of measuring and reporting reliable ESG data, as well as the potential opportunities that emerge from waste management and the alignment with regulations. Building trust through stakeholder engagement and prioritising ESG as a business imperative is crucial. By addressing the skills and resource gap, organizations can effectively navigate the challenges associated with incorporating ESG into their operations. Embracing ESG practices not only benefits the environment and society but also enhances long-term value creation and resilience in the face of an evolving business landscape.