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7 Simple Concepts to Become a high performing organization

It’s been 1.5 years since the start of our technology resource center in Budapest, Hungary. In this period, we spoke to more than 700 people, which resulted in more than 300 interviews and 100+ hires.

It’s been 1.5 years since the start of our technology resource center in Budapest, Hungary. In this period, we spoke to more than 700 people, which resulted in more than 300 interviews and 100+ hires. We had hundreds of learning and “aha” moments with each and every single one of them making us stronger, better, faster and more eager. We wouldn’t be where we are today without continuously looking back to learn from the good and bad experiences. In this blog, I will share the seven findings that became the base of our successful start and proved essential elements in balancing strategy, people and culture.

1. Be value oriented.

It took me a while to realize this but looking back, it’s a bit odd that we expect people to have the skills to sell themselves and hold appealing monologues on why we need to hire them on the spot. We expect excellent communications, quick and excellent examples of behaviors as well as the right answers on tricky questions. It’s like throwing a high introvert geek in front of a crowd and expect an inspiring TED talk. We often don’t realize that the people we interview are put on a hot seat, all alone, high expectations, sometimes with more than 5 people from all over the world gazing at their responses. Does withstanding the pressure of an interview significantly affect employee performance in the real world? By conventional practice, a successful interview requires a different kind of skill that does not guarantee hiring the best employee for your organization. Liken the situation to a student who solely masters the art of passing examinations without really grasping and retaining knowledge. An interview might last a couple of hours, employment lasts much longer. The skills to survive an interview are often useless to deliver the value in the day-to-day job. I found that the only valid question we need to ask ourselves is not if somebody has the skills and experience to do the job but if somebody has the ability to add the value we need.

2. Be a purpose driven organization.

Consistently we see that the best performers are either driven by purpose or eager to find it.Connecting people’s purpose with people’s passions will make them stand-out. Assuring you hire people whose purpose is aligned with the purpose of the organization will give you star performers. It’s crucial for an organization to understand that this is a key priority in the recruitment process. Yet most of interviews are not designed to tap into the world of the unknown. We want peoples experience to be in line with the job requirements but research shows that the connection with their purpose & passion is ultimately making or breaking the success of each person in their role. To bring it to this level we need to dare to listen, seek people who smile on Monday mornings and find this people that infect others with their contagious energy no matter in what position.

“Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations. They want their work to have meaning and purpose” - Gallup

3. Run relative simple processes on full throttle

90% of the people we want to hire decline our offer if we take more than 2 days to decide on an interview. Over 95% of the people decline our offer if we take more than 24 hours to decide after an interview. We found that these delays don’t really serve a goal because most interviewers already made their choice to hire in the first 10 minutes of the interview. Some might challenge this but most managers make their decision on gut-feeling. Whatever is your opinion on this topic, we can say that speed is our best friend when seeking the very best.

4. Satisfying natural human needs.

LinkedIn reported that based on their research 45-60% of its users consider other opportunities while employed. How can a person be dedicated if they consider leaving? People want to matter, connect and feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. Randstad published an independent research over 175.000 people in over 30 countries showing 1/3 of the workforce is planning to change employer sooner than later. And then there is Gallup who found that more than half of employees in the US (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings. No longer can we ignore the world changed and the power is with the people. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to assure your people stay and the least interesting option is money. This is really all about people! It’s proven that people stay when they are happy and engaged. When they are held accountable and work with a clear vision derived from the overall strategy and translated into common goals. We found that the most successful people work for managers who put people first. These managers understand that if they focus on their people, their people will take care of the job. They also understand that leading cross borders means leading through trust. One of our ground principles in Budapest is removing barriers for people to leave. First and foremost because this stresses the need to focus on maximizing engagement or in other words giving them reasons to stay. Not only by helping our people to connect their job with their purpose and passions but also by promoting them, training them, challenging them, learning from them and above all, giving their journey with us a meaning.

5. Trust and Integrity: Key to efficiency.

In one of Gallup’s latest researches on employee engagement, they found that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. The role of the managers and leaders, especially in a global context, is to create a flourishing environment where trust is the binding factor. These environments are built around integrity, accountability and flexibility. These are the elements that lead to trust by assuring openness. Openness enables transparency which fosters diversity of ideas. When you have diversity of ideas you reinforce openness. Ultimately this “circle of trust” will lead to information sharing and innovation. We need to help current managers to transform preparing them for the future of management.

“Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair” Unknown

6. Build a culture that goes viral.

An essential ingredient of the resource center we built in Budapest is implementing a culture that drives the behaviors we need to deliver our goals. In today’s world, this means creating an environment where people take accountability in an open and transparent environment. Where trust and a high sense of purpose will bring the best out of people. Not only in terms of quality but also in creativity and innovation. We found that we can’t enforce that culture but build it overtime. Leando Herrero, one of the world’s most inspiring leaders in the field of change and behaviors references the tsunami and the butterfly. Where the old traditional style of change is like a tsunami, visible and embodies proportional changes, the butterfly method is about viral change. It’s invisible and operated through small actions designed to create radical changes through the power of culture. The changes are not directed from the top but injected like a contagious virus and spread across. Absolutely essential in this approach is the definition of values. When these values bring meaning to people, they start to grow and bring the organization towards its strategy.

7. A little fun doesn’t hurt anybody, even the diligent

Of course we are dealing with serious business that we never take lightly. However, the working floor is not a place for big ego’s, ignorance, power-play, fancy management offices and politics. Instead we embrace the concept of authenticity and trust. An article of Forbes was spot on when they wrote “Authenticity enlivens people, because they feel they can finally be free to be open, make mistakes, laugh at their foibles, and move forward boldly integrating what they’ve learned from their mistakes to build a better, happier life and livelihood”. This is what we stand for and what’s proven to be the secret of our first successes.

Bringing it home:

Building high performing teams in a cross-cultural environment always starts with a compelling strategy. This strategy will provide the building blocks for a high performing culture that sparks people’s interest and taps into their purpose and passion. These people will drive clarity on common goals and set challenging targets. Leadership task is not only to create the environment to make this happen, they need to remove all impediments that get in the way of people to reach their full potential and ultimately help move the organization to deliver on their strategy. Ultimately it’s my firm believe that building high performing organizations is nothing more than finding the right balance between strategy, people and culture that enables success and maximizes value.

-Menno Olgers

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