HR Insights

4 elements to build a high-performance workplace culture

September 15, 2023

5 min read

Sheriff Subair

“Our company is nothing without the employees.”

That was Bisola Ogundahunsi’s immediate response to our query on the relationship between her organization and its employees. And she should know, after all, she’s the Human Resources and Admin Executive at Sygnite Power and Energy Solutions.

Like you, we totally agree with Bisola (check out our merch at the 2023 HREA EXPO featuring Taiwo ‘Dayo-Abatan of HR Foundary).

Dayo Abatan with our merch at the HREA Expo

But if people really do make the work work and your organization aims to become a high performing organization, it is important that as HR professionals, we enable a culture that allows employees to do their best work.

In other words, a high-performing organization needs a high-performance culture.

A McKinsey study already revealed why culture is important. According to the study, culture correlates with performance. So an organization with low performance culture will find it difficult to compete with competitors that adopt a healthy, high performance culture.

In this guide, we’ll explain what a high performance culture really is and outline the four elements you need to have in place to build one in your organization.

What is a high-performance culture?

Culture is the cumulative effect of what people in your organization do, why they do them, and how they do them.

At the root of every high-performing organization is a common set of actions and beliefs that guide the way the employees work on a daily basis. These actions and beliefs represent the culture of that organization.

Sure, it is very easy to disregard the impact of the right culture on your organization’s performance. After all, culture remains an intangible concept.

But a study was carried out by Eagle Hill’s consulting to measure the impact of culture and the results should change your mind.

  • 7 out of every 10 employees interviewed answered that their organization’s culture helped them improve their productivity and efficiency.

  • On the employer’s side, 7 out of every 10 executives also strongly agreed that their company culture directly impacts the organization’s financial performance.

Now, before we delve deeper into how you can create a culture that helps your organization achieve similar results, let’s take a step back to understand how a high performance culture translates into business benefits.

Culture is as a result of the experiences you create with your employees. These experiences, when repeated, lead to beliefs. Your employees’ beliefs drive actions. And actions produce results.

Workplace culture is an important element of a high performing workplace

In a nutshell, the key to getting your workforce to increase their performance levels lie in setting the right cultural foundation for them.

With this in mind, how do you build a high performance culture? We’ll see that in the next section.

Elements of a high-performance culture

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for building a high performance culture in your organization. As you can imagine, it depends on your business goals and the type of team you’ve put together.

However, there are certain elements your culture must possess for it to affect your employees’ performances.

These elements are:

  • Intentional experiences

  • Accountability

  • Leader-led and company driven initiative

  • Mutually beneficial rewards

Intentional experiences

A key decider of the type of culture a workplace cultivates is the experience designed for employees. Employees in a high performing organization perform at a high level by taking their cues from organizational signals. These signals come in the form of workplace experiences.

How do you go about creating intentional experiences for your organization?

You start by spotlighting the behavioral changes that must happen to unlock business performance i.e. curiosity, ownership, empathy, and so on. Communicate these changes to your teams so everyone knows what they are working towards.

But it doesn’t stop there.

For a cultural shift to occur, you must design experiences or initiatives that reinforce the behaviors you want your employees to show.

For instance, at Pade, we understand that building HR solutions that help African organizations thrive in the new world of work requires everyone on the team to be curious about new challenges and trends.

As a way to reinforce curiosity as a behavior, Pade’s management team set about designing experiences to serve as cues.

  • Every Pade team member takes part in a knowledge sharing session where we explore new topics and concepts.

  • The company encourages original thinking and openly celebrates team members that showcase this.

The net effect of these experiences is that we’ve become a better team of problem solvers and our customers can attest to it.


Another key component of a high performance culture is accountability. Every HR leader serious about building a high performance culture in the workplace must promote accountability as a performance trait.

Roger Connors, CEO of Partners In Leadership, defines accountability as a trait that:

“…encompasses how people make commitments to one another, what they make commitments about, how they measure and report progress, and how much ownership they take to get things done.”

“If you don’t get accountability right, you won’t get much else right either,” Rogers continued

Stats, however, show that most organizations still do not know how to incorporate accountability into their culture For instance, out of 40000 participants in a survey, 93% are unable to align their work or take accountability for desired results.

Where there is no accountability, responsibility does not exist. And without responsibility, work performance suffers. But there is a silver lining: the key to solving the issue of accountability in your workplace lies with you as a leader. 84% of employees say that their leaders’ behaviour is the single most important factor in influencing workplace accountability.

With this in mind, what do you do to promote accountability in your workplace? Start by focusing on these components.

  • Clear goal expectations: Your employees should have clearly defined goals, whether they are evergreen initiatives like inclusivity or short term initiatives.

  • Before managers give their people tasks to perform, they must clearly define what goals they are accountable for.

  • Cascade goals: The management in your organizations should help the employees set measurable, individualized goals that align with their individual roles.

    Note that for cascading goals to be impactful, your managers should communicate with employees on how their individual contributions help the organization achieve its business goals.

  • Transparency and communication: Accountability thrives where there is transparency. As you delegate tasks and goals to your employees, ensure that you communicate organizational expectations with clarity and truthfulness.

  • Feedback mechanisms: Accountability in the workplace is not complete without a two-way feedback mechanism between managers and the employees.

Employer-led and management-driven initiative

You can’t outsource the development of your high performance culture to employees or a single individual.

Employees are more likely to buy into a cultural change if they see that the management takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to implementing it.

As seen earlier, you also have to cultivate experiences and give your people the right beliefs for your proposed culture to stick.

You, and the rest of the management team, are needed:

  • To ensure alignment on vision, purpose, and mission

  • To inspire confidence in the face of challenges

  • To help your team learn from mistakes

Mutually beneficial rewards

The process of adopting a new workplace culture should be mutually beneficial to the organization and employees.

Yes, it is important that your culture makes a visible business impact but while thinking about that, do not forget that your employees also have to feel rewarded for helping you achieve your goals.

Why your employees work determines how well they work.

The three direct motives that you should target when connecting your cultural shift to employee reward are:

  • Play: Some of your employees work with you because they simply love the activity.

  • Purpose: Some other employees enjoy their work because they care deeply about the impact they make with your organization.

  • Potential: It is not unusual to find employees who work with you because of some second-order advantage of the work. For instance, the work they do with your organization enhances their career prospects and potential.

By connecting your cultural change to one or more of these motives, you make it easier for your employees to buy into your culture.

Conclusion: How Pade supercharges your performance culture

Organizations that have a high performance culture tend to stay ahead of the competition and win the hearts of customers.

But culture is hard to scale as your team grows bigger. It becomes more difficult to treat every employee with the same level of attention and engagement. This is where an all-in-one employee management platform like Pade comes in.

Pade’s Performance management module fuels positive change in your teams with employee development and engagement tools.

With Pade, you can:

  • Properly communicate your organization’s strategic priorities and clarify the company’s strategy with relevant stakeholders.

  • Transparently define clear goals and objectives for every member of your team

  • Schedule pulse surveys so you can understand how your employees feel right now, instead of waiting for an annual review.

  • Give real time feedback on performance and tasks to keep your employees motivated and engaged.

Learn how Pade can help you by booking a demo with one of our product experts.

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