HR’s role in building a culture of high performance teams

HR’s most important strategic role is to ensure that each of the systems it builds supports the the organisation’s mission (

In today's work environment, human resources responsibility goes beyond recruitment to include strategising the business' corporate culture.

Human resources is often seen as an insignificant part in most organisations, however, it has progressed from an admin-focused function to a strategic business effort. It is for this reason that a significant number of individuals are pushing boundaries, which The Future of HR Awards in association with Careers24 recognise and award.

One of HR’s most important strategic roles within the organisation should be to ensure that each of the systems it builds is designed to support and directly link the organisation’s mission, vision, strategy and goals. When more focus is given in ensuring that an organisation’s employees have the support they need to reach their full potential, there is greater potential to create a culture of high-performance within the organisation.

The high-performance team make-up

Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of teams, there is a general understanding of what makes an effective team. High-performance teams are generally composed of a combination of “purpose and goals, talent, skills, performance ethics, incentives and motivation, efficacy, leadership, conflict, communication, power and empowerment, and norms and standards”.

Strategies to create your organisation’s own high-performance team

Thabo Mashaba, Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Alexander Forbes, suggests that when HR departments consider strategies to build a culture of high performance within organisations, the area which needs greater focus is understanding the impact disengaged employees. What happens when employees are disgruntled and unhappy?, Thabo asks. "Your clients walk out the door, you have negative energy in your working environment, which ultimately negatively impacts the company's financial results." 

So what should companies do? "There should be a systematic enrichment of your Employee Value Proposition, including both the psychological and social capitals of your employees," suggests Thabo. "These will in turn positively impact your happiness index, retention, corporate image and ultimately, your bottomline."

Other strategies for creating high-performance teams include:

1. Implement an effective performance management process that places emphasis on:

  • using a merit-based system to differentiate between high and low performers
  • clearly defining the standards and expectations at the individual, team, departmental, and organisational level
  • developing transparent reward systems
  • articulating shared goals and objectives
  • The results won’t only boost the level of fairness within your organisation, but they’ll also have a direct impact on shaping the organisation’s culture.

    2. Build empowerment and authority across all the organisational levels.

    Trust and accountability are key pillars in strengthening empowerment and authority and make for empowered employees who:

  • recognise and respond to changing information from the marketplace
  • develop innovative ideas to meet market demands and stay ahead of the competition
  • connect with customers to create a branded experience
  • 3. Encourage leadership capability at all levels of the company.

    This will enable employees to be engaged and share a common mission and purpose, throughout the organisation. In addition, when leadership and employee engagement are increased, the real vision of the company will begin to develop.

    4. Develop a customer-centric strategy.

    A key factor in any successful business is putting the customer first. One effective method to determine the success of your organisation’s customer-centric strategy is determining how well your company leaders have connected your organisation with your customers and the community.

    Read: Want to work in Human Resources? Read this!

    However, before any testing can take place, your employees need to understand their responsibilities in meeting customer needs and expectations, which will also allow for greater employee engagement.

    5. Improve communication and collaboration in order to build an effective organisation, with a high focus on the customer.

    6. Enhance training and development. Investing in your employees is one of the most fundamental factors in boosting employee engagement, and ultimately, securing the continued success of your company. Employee development that is supported at all levels of the organisation will ensure that high-potential employees have greater internal mobility and opportunity.

    7. Attend the yearly Future of HR Awards which address the transformation of the HR function in the South African business. Their aim is twofold:

    “The Future of HR Summit addressed the exciting transformation of the HR function in the business environment, forecast trends for 2016, share innovative and strategic approaches to overcoming challenges, discuss practical methods of employee engagement, talent acquisition, and empowering leadership, and provide thought provoking content, and unique networking opportunities.”

    “The Future of HR Awards seeks to recognise South Africa’s most influential participants of people management strategies, leadership and innovation. It identifies business pioneers, highlighting their accolades for the world to see. The Awards brings South Africa’s icons from business and government together.”

    This year the Future of HR Summit and Awards was held in Johannesburg from the 20th to the 21st of July 2016.