Management and Leadership Series Posted by David McDermott


The ‘leading high performance’ research project was conducted by edoMidas over a 2-year period, collecting data from 2000 people in 12 organisations. From this we initially identified five key behaviours of people leaders that directly linked to high performance. Today we have data from more than 5,000 people in 30 UK organisations that support the 5A leadership model.

The study first reviewed in excess of 1,200 business applied research articles, examining a wide range of high performance factors in organisations. On that basis we identified 8 core themes that showed a possible strong link with high performance in teams and organisations.

The core themes were then translated into a research questionnaire designed to measure their relationship with performance.

The initial 600 respondents revealed that 5 of the 8 themes were directly linked to bottom line results. The 5 high performance factors were tested on a further 1400 employees, proposing that the research questionnaire would identify the highest performing teams in the 12 organisations, when compared against the individual business performance matrix. In 80% of case, we were able to identify the highest performing teams, using the five core themes.

Over the next 4 years, we surveyed an additional 2500 people and the results remained consistent. In summary, those teams with the highest 5A scores are also the highest performing teams within their businesses.

The first key theme is AIM:

This refers to setting clear direction so your people know where they are going and why.

The results clearly show that people work best when they understand where their organisation is heading and how their individual goals help deliver this. There are six areas within this theme that contribute to performance, such as having stretching goals that are achievable and understanding what the business delivers that is unique.

An area that consistently proved challenging for most organisations we surveyed was that of effectively communicating business strategy. Regardless of how superior a strategy may be, it became clear that it does not produce results unless it is clearly understood throughout the teams and explicitly to employees’ goals and objectives.

Our data shows that in the highest performing teams, 95% of the team members were fully aware of the business strategy and how it linked to the team goals and their own objectives.

This compares to only 38% of lower performing team members.

The second key theme is ABILITY:

This refers to the actual capability of your people and processes to achieve the goals of the business.

We can confidently conclude that organisations produce the best results when they have the right mix of people with the right set of talents.

Our data shows that in the highest performing teams, 89% of employees were working in areas that played directly to their talents and 80% of employees had discussed their development and potential with their manager in the past 12 months.

Compare this to average performing teams where less than 50% of employees felt their skills were matched well to their jobs and only 55% had discussed their development and potential.

The third key theme is ATTITUDE:

This refers to your people’s motivation, engagement and resilience.

Employees can understand the strategy and have the talent and skills but they also need to be in possession of the motivation that will engage them in delivering.

In high performing teams we found that 82% of employees were highly engaged in their work, prepared to offer discretionary effort and felt valued by their manager and organisation for their contribution.

By contrast, average-performing teams reported that only 33% felt valued and engagement levels were significantly lower too.

The fourth key theme is APPROACH:

This refers to a strong performance culture where the desired behaviours are role modelled by leaders and performance issues are dealt with promptly.

When clear expectations are set, the capability is in place and motivation is high, it is crucial to ensure that results are delivered – on time, within budget and in a way that is in line with the behaviours and values of your business.

edoMidas found that only 44% of leaders were seen by their people as handling performance issues promptly and fairly and 66% of leaders were seen as not role modeling the core company values and behaviours themselves.

The last key theme is ADAPTABILITY:

This refers to your teams’ ability to respond to external change and jump-start innovation from within.

The research clearly highlights that key to staying competitive and efficient is your people’s ability and willingness to question and challenge the way things are done in the business, in order to generate innovation and stay responsive to the needs communicated at local level.

Our research found that as many as 62% of employees were not actively encouraged to propose new ideas and only 35% felt they understood the reasons for change initiatives driven by management. 78% also did not understand what they, as individuals, were required to do differently as a result of organisation-wide change initiatives.

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