What is a high performance culture and why does my organization need it?
High-performing nonprofit organizations have a culture of continuous improvement and strong leadership that believes the mission is best served when the organization promotes continuous learning. They are constantly open to learning new ideas and inquiring from others on the best practices and leadership competencies necessary to sustain their mission and achieve their vision. High-performance cultures feature two-way feedback mechanisms, training that promotes idea generation, and leadership that encourages employees to take ownership in the everyday performance of their roles. These features drive performance, cultivate teamwork, and nurture belonging.

The benefits of a high-performance culture are well documented. Gallup reports that organizations that have made a strategic investment in staff development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. High achieving people (the ones who can grow your organization) seek development. Having a sense of purpose makes people feel great about what they do at work and helps them enrich and deepen their relationships outside of it.

Below are three characteristics of high-performing organizations to strive for and tips to get you there.

  1. Create an inspiring strategic vision in collaboration with the board, director, staff, and volunteers that encourages commitment and provides real measures of success. 
    • Schedule time to do a SWOT analysis (a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Click here for an example. Encourage all input and promote full engagement to get buy-in, and authentic thoughts. Review for common themes and takeaways. Pick top responses to formalize direction for vision, goals that align with the vision, and define what success looks like/feels like.
  2. Encourage board members so they develop a strong sense of ownership and partnership, and continually ask the right questions to refresh and renew the organization. 
    • As the director set up check-in calls with each board member outside of board meetings. Ask them for honest feedback about what is working and what isn’t. Ask them about a goal they would like to see the organization accomplish, and outline possible strategies together to make that happen. Listen to all feedback.
  3. Establish a positive and unique brand identity and communicate the achievements and positive results of the organization to internal and external stakeholders. 
    • Use comments and themes from the strengths and opportunities identified in the SWOT analysis above to provide direction for brand messaging and placement. Consider what makes your organization stand out, and talk about that.
    • Consider a variety of delivery options: press releases, pitch story or request media interviews, email blasts, newsletters, website blogs, and social media. Create a communications committee to drive those efforts if need idea generation and execution assistance.

Watch for Part 2 of this blog, Develop a High-Performing Culture coming soon. We will share three more characteristics of high-performing organizations.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Ketel Thorstenson Team with any questions on this blog or to review best practices to consider for your nonprofit organization. To sign up for the KTLLP Nonprofit newsletter click here.