May 8


Break Away From A Traditional To A High-Performance Organization

By Robert Grossman

May 8, 2017

High Performance, high-performance organization, Millennials, organizational design

Break Away from a Traditional to a High-Performance Organization

Businesses who merely accept the way things are and do not challenge themselves to think bigger will continue to struggle in our multi-generational work environment. Millennials are seeking a different type of work environment, such as a High-Performance organization vs. the traditional one that has dominated organizations since the industrial revolution. As you read through the below characteristics, make a note of the ones you see in your organization. How can you challenge your institution to embrace change?


In 1903 Fredrick Taylor coined the phrase “Scientific Management” to describe the Traditional Paradigm. He and other contemporaries, like Max Weber, believed organizations need to be standardized and centrally controlled. For this reason, the Traditional Paradigm is often called the “command and control model.” Until recently, these basic principles of this model dominated people’s thinking within organizations:

SPECIALIZATION AND STANDARDIZATION: Jobs are focused on a routine and often feel repetitive. Employees are instructed to perform tasks one way, which is designated as the best and only way. This makes managing employees more straightforward, but it stifles creativity and leaves little room for improvement or feedback. Employees feel choked and cornered with no outlet for growth.

DIVISION OF LABOR: Often called ‘stove-piping,’ departments have very little communication with each other, and employees do not see the importance of their work in relation to others or the “big picture” of the organization. While they may be extremely skilled and efficient, employees do not understand their value to the organization or the role they play in the outcome.

CENTRALIZATION: Decision-making power is only granted to a few key individuals in leadership roles. This leads to inefficiency and inflexibility and too bitter employees who feel powerless.

UNIFORMITY: Rules, policies, and procedures are the “same” for the entire organization. Employees are expected to fit a specific mold and not stray from it. This “by the book” model requires all situations and people to be treated in the same manner.

CONTROL: Management is viewed as the controller of speed, quality, and quantity of production, and employees are simply worker bees who follow orders. This model can cause rebellion and lower retention rates when escalated.


Recognize any of the above characteristics? Next, we will discuss how you can move away from these traditional tactics and transform your organization into one that creates value and empowers change. Success will come only when your employees feel that their input is valued, and they have the power to best help customers without further approval. The strategies below will help transform your organization into one with a more positive corporate culture, leading to the highest levels of performance and employee engagement possible.

SELF-MANAGING: Employees manage their day-to-day schedules on their own. This decentralized structure empowers employees to have their sense of authority and work at their highest personal efficiency levels.

MULTI-FUNCTIONAL: Employees are familiar with the entire organization and can complete a variety of tasks within the company. They can efficiently perform other functions and adapt to the new needs of their team or of the business.

ENGAGED IN A PROCESS: The hallmark of this type of organization is rooted in a process, not a structure. Employees are involved in the planning and coordination of their tasks and understand the general flow of the workforce. They feel accomplished in their contributions to the team and are comfortable sharing their ideas and giving feedback.

MINIMUM RULES: Behavior expectations are governed by a set of values or conduct code, not a uniform handbook. Employees are expected to use common sense and professionalism in their work. There is an understanding that each situation requires a fresh perspective.

TRAINING: Employees are cross-trained in each facet of the business as a basis for their more specific tasks. Programs focus mainly on personal development, interpersonal skills, professionalism, and teamwork.

REWARDS AND ADVANCEMENT: Employment is viewed as a partnership, and proper recognition is given when quality contributions are made to the team. This recognition includes anything from verbal praise to promotions.

QUALITY OF LIFE: The organization recognizes the considerable importance of employee morale and creates a culture of empowerment and teamwork. Employees feel valued as partners and see the organization as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

It can be easy for organizations to get stuck in the way they have done things for many years. But in today’s ever-changing society, institutions must learn to grow and adapt. Creating a culture of understanding and teamwork where employees feel valued is crucial to seeing the highest levels of performance and efficiency. Take some time to evaluate how your organization can take steps toward becoming a high-performance organization, more open to change, and invested in employee morale.

How You Can Create a High-Performance Culture

Knowing that you need to foster a culture of high-performance in the workplace is one thing – stepping up and creating that culture is entirely another. For most business leaders, knowing where to start is the hardest part.

High Performance – A Systematic Approach

The key to getting started in creating a high-performance organization is to lay out a systematic approach. Culture can be an ethereal thing – challenging to nail down and even harder to change. To get the parameters must be clear, concise, and well structured to get the results you want.

Understanding how organizational culture develops grows, and changes are essential. Knowledge is indeed power in this instance. When companies can step back and see where they are in the process, new opportunities become visible. There is always room for growth and still room for change and development in the realm of organizational culture.

Transforming Chaos into Stability into High Performance

Many organizations work from a place of chaos. The day-to-day business is done well enough to get by, but it happens organically, without thought, and without a fraction of the efficiency and effectiveness possible.

Expecting this ‘leadership by chaos’ to align into something functional for the long-term is like expecting a knotted ball of yarn to unravel itself. Instead, Taking the mishmash that businesses begin with and transforming it into a high-performance organizational machine means first recognizing the chaos, then intentionally implementing change.

There are three steps to creating a high-performance organizational structure.

Look hard in the mirror
Use an organization assessment to evaluate critically what’s working and what’s not working within the organization. People often do things one way because “that’s how we’ve always done it.” That’s never a good reason. Employees can become attached to the chaos because it’s familiar. As a result, it can be painful to evaluate what’s happening in an organization. Emotions can get involved. The key to success is to not come into this process with an eye for criticizing people. Instead, evaluate processes that can be improved.

Bring everyone to the table
The effective organizational change includes all stakeholders in the process. While leaders might take the initiative to begin the process, it’s critical to foster trust and engagement by involving the team during the entire journey. Transparency is at its best when those within an organization can take an active role in shaping the structure that they will be working in.

Let go and don’t look back
Creating a high-performance business means changing when it’s appropriate and letting go of what’s not working no matter how challenging it might be. The most successful companies know when to shed the old and usher in the new. Creating structure out of chaos means letting go of the chaos. Nothing works forever, so even as changes are made, there’s always the opportunity for continuous improvement.

Breaking free from the traditional paradigm and working towards High-Performance is an ongoing, never-ending, rewarding process. For the business leader who moves forward to create s high-performance culture results in happier and more productive employees, more straightforward and more effective operations, and higher profits.

Robert Grossman

About the author

Robert S. Grossman is a business growth consultant, trainer/facilitator, coach and speaker with decades of experience. Having achieved success in both the corporate world and as an entrepreneur, Robert has helped hundreds of companies with high-performance strategic consulting, training and communications. He coaches business leaders, CEOs, presidents, entrepreneurs and sales professionals.

Robert brings 30 years of experience as a business owner, executive coach, Vistage chair and an award-winning communicator.

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