When “Performance Culture” Goes Wrong

Davina Greene is The Personal Strategy Coach – a coach, trainer, and People consultant based in Dublin, Ireland. This column was first published in Irish Tatler magazine. 

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I recently moved to a large company claiming a “performance culture”. Everyone is very dismissive and unhelpful which, even as a Manager, I find very difficult. What should I do?

A ‘performance culture’ is wonderful, if carefully created and managed. Contented staff, doing jobs that suit their skills in a supportive but goal-driven environment, can produce wonderful results. I have worked with companies that skilfully embedded such a culture. Some others do, however, seem to use Performance as an excuse for people to say what they want, to whoever they want, in whatever way they want, in the name of progress (e.g. “I don’t care what you say or how you act, as long as you sell”). This is unnecessary, and counterproductive for most.

When you say “difficult”, do you mean something nearer “irritating” or nearer “upsetting”? We can all live with some irritation, but what might be the impact of remaining in an upsetting environment?

Perhaps the Management simply have no prior experience of building such a culture. Do others feel the same?  If yes, work together to try to suggest an alternative vision – maybe the existence of Rules of Engagement between staff, increased focus on People skills in current and future managers, or coaching-style team meetings? This can, however, take time to implement.

Does anything you will gain from this company balance the difficulty of working there? Consider this carefully, in terms of career and wellbeing, to guide your next move.