Someone once said that when it comes to performance, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. In my view, its not an ‘either/or’ discussion but an ‘and’ discussion. You need both. On Superbowl Monday (in Australia), the Kansas City Chiefs broke a 50-year Championship drought. By all reports, they had a fantastic coach, and a great team over the years, but got their strategy right this time as well.

I prefer a team culture in business over a family culture, and a performance culture over a country club culture. Teams and performance go hand in hand. Everyone wants to play in the team, they seek and welcome feedback to improve, and they want to be surrounded by players that make them better. Everyone understands that team members come and go, and we put a strong emphasis on talent selection.

The challenge with family cultures in business is that most families are dysfunctional in some way, they struggle to deal with performance issues, and family members rarely lose their job for misbehaving.

In teams, we deal with performance issues early and often. We are skilful at having the conversation, and everyone is expecting the conversation. We don’t take it personally, and we just want to get better.

When sitting down to the conversation with a team member, consider this approach.

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood (Covey’s Habit No. 5)
  2. Hear their explanation
  3. Clarify what you heard, and check their understanding.
  4. Express your needs and requirements
  5. Ask for commitment
  6. Document
  7. Promise to check-in
  8. Follow up

Remember to catch people doing something right, too. Encouragement and acknowledgement work well for most, and occasionally we all need some honest feedback to get back on track. Create the right environment for feedback to be expected, and for performance to flourish.