Performance vs. Growth Culture: I choose Growth Culture

The business environment as it stands today demands more and more from employees. Seeking high perfomance drives growth, and also can drag individuals through burnout, in the extreme.

Perhaps a better way would be to aim at establishing a culture based on growth rather than performance, according to Tony Schwartz.

“A culture’, says Schwartz, “is simply the collection of beliefs on which people build their behavior.”

He goes on to describe the following traits of a culture focused on growth:

  • People build their abilities to see through blind spots
  • Acknowledge insecurities and shortcomings instead of acting them out subconsciously
  • spend less energy defending their personal value and have more energy to create external value

Deliberately developmental cultures – Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan, a little side note but an equally important development are DDO’s, deliberately developmental organisations designed to align with people’]s

A DDO is organized around the deceptively
simple but radical conviction that organizations
will best prosper when they are deeply aligned with
people’s strongest motive, which is to grow.

Building a growth culture, we’ve found, requires a blend of individual and organizational components:

  1. An environment that feels safe, fueled first by top by leaders willing to role model vulnerability and take personal responsibility for their shortcomings and missteps.
  2. A focus on continuous learning through inquiry, curiosity and transparency, in place of judgment, certainty and self-protection.
  3. Time-limited, manageable experiments with new behaviors in order to test our unconscious assumption that changing the status quo is dangerous and likely to have negative consequences.
  4. Continuous feedback — up, down and across the organization – grounded in a shared commitment to helping each other grow and get better.

What often occurs in reality is divergent from this, with organisations unable to shift away in function from a performance based culture. Leaving individuals such as clients of mine in a fog of confusion, with little or no room for failure.

For team members to operate with a growth mentality, a safety zoon is requisite, as Tony Schwartz discovered in his own experiments with his team.

…fueling growth requires a delicate balance between challenging and nurturing. Think about a young child beginning to venture into the world. The infant crawls away from its mother to explore the environment, but frequently looks back and returns periodically in order to feel reassured and comforted. We are not so different as adults.

Tony Schwartz

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