In my view, high-performing workplaces are generally those where individual and team contributions are prized equally. Employees are challenged to innovate, and at the same time they’re encouraged to share with teammates the institutional knowledge that they’ve helped to create. Performance cultures value talent; they value know-how; and they value teamwork.
Most performance cultures are also fully inclusive of all segments in their respective workforces, despite differences in age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, and so on. In itself this inclusiveness goes a long way toward creating talent environments where knowledge is shared freely throughout the workforce, without competitive or territorial impulses blocking the participation of individual custodians of the organization’s collective knowledge.
How do you spot these exemplary workplaces? A commitment to training and development is one leading indicator. In government agencies this often manifests itself as extensive and inclusive training programs, but it shows up as well in an agency’s serious attention to career paths and succession planning. And you’re likely find a high frequency of mentoring relationships, formal and informal, in the agencies that take their performance cultures seriously.
This is only part of the picture, of course. The drive of executive leadership and HR to foster a performance culture has to be strong, but it can’t succeed without a pervasive walk-the-talk commitment from operating units—from shop floor and front counter to back office and warehouse, if you will. My metaphor may be commercial, but don’t doubt for a second that it’s a rock-solid requirement in the federal arena too.
Do you want a performance culture? Start with talent, add opportunity, and do everything you can to support an agency-wide aptitude for sharing know-how.