(By Dan Simmons)

One might think that the best way to increase performance at a company is to hire top performers. While that’s definitely a great way to accomplish such a goal, an even better way is to create a culture of performance among your existing employees.

That’s because a culture of performance generates higher levels of performance—and productivity—just by its very existence.  In other words, the desired performance is generated by internal factors, as opposed to external ones (i.e., pressure from management, the threat of layoffs, etc.)

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While it’s true that this is not the easiest endeavor (after all, if it was easy, every company would be doing it), it’s an endeavor that’s certainly worth the necessary investment of time, energy, and resources.  Creating a culture of performance leads to more productivity, and ultimately, more profitability, not to mention an increased rate of employee retention.

Talk about a win-win-win proposition.  Fortunately, there’s a model you can use to create this culture of performance, and that’s the Denison Model.

The Denison Model advocates four traits that are crucial to the creation of such a culture:

  1. Mission – This is just what it sounds like: the company’s purpose, long-term goals, and direction for achieving those goals.
  2. Involvement – This is the employees’ level of commitment to the company, the degree to which they’re willing to be involved and take ownership of the company’s mission.
  3. Consistency – Performance is not just a “sometimes thing” . . . it’s an “all the time thing.”  Not only that, but everything done on a consistent basis becomes a habit—including performing at higher levels.
  4. Adaptability – This refers to a company’s ability to adapt to changes in the business environment, which is especially important in today’s modern economy and often chaotic marketplace.

For maximum results, all four of these traits should be present within your culture.  A company doesn’t need all four to succeed, but to create and benefit from a self-perpetuating culture of performance, all four play an important role.

How does your company look when held up to the “performance mirror”?  Does its culture possess all four of these traits?  Two of them?  None?  Your answer will tell you how close you are to building a true culture of performance within your organization.