What is a high performance organization? (HPO)

One of the buzz phrases over the past several years in the business environment has been "HPO". HPO is an acronym for "High Performance Organization", and many organizations have been implementing the strategies associated with being an HPO into their organizational cultures. So what exactly does HPO mean? What is entailed in becoming an HPO?

An HPO is an organization that concentrates on bringing out the best in people. An organization that positions itself to emerge as an HPO designs itself to produce sustainable results. The organization should meet specific qualities typically attributed to being high performing in order to fit this model.

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Defining characteristics of an HPO include:

People are assets

Unfortunately, even in this day and age, many companies treat employees as liabilities and not as the assets they are. The HPO does not take this philosophical approach, but rather embraces a perception that employees are valuable. As a result, they often find their employees are happier, more productive and want to succeed in their jobs.

Leaders in HPOs also give employees the tools to empower themselves and make valuable contributions to the organization. Organizations that strive to maintain being an HPO also respect and encourage diversity. They recognize diversity is also an asset and the differences in backgrounds foster innovation and creativity, adding value. These organizations are led by innovative and great thinkers. Leaders who realize the true value of people and do not treat them as liabilities.

Mobilize teams

Cohesiveness and teamwork are an essential piece of the heart of the HPO. Nurturing an environment where team members can collaborate and work together in a flat hierarchy are strong characteristics. This type of environment encourages everyone to have a "say" and offer their input, regardless of their official status in the company.

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Fostering teamwork is vital to high performing organizations. A hierarchical structure can still be present, but emphasis is not put on title or prestige, but rather on the good of the organization and the value each member can contribute.

Integrates the newest technologies

With proper training to users, technology greatly enhances productivity to free up employees to focus on other important tasks. This increases productivity, which is cost-effective and will show a positive rate of return to stakeholders. Employees are also challenged to get involved in other processes, since the machines take over the mundane tasks that traditionally used to be performed by people.

Focuses on growth, development and goals

The HPO environment thrives on learning and advancement. Ongoing training is one way to empower, offering teaching seminars is another. Organizational studies often show employees who are given levels of autonomy, with room to grow in their professional positions, are happier and show better performance than those staff members that are micro-managed and not given any latitude in terms of growth.

HPOs are also dedicated to meeting and exceeding goal objectives and continuing to aim for the aforementioned growth. This is accomplished through vision and shared values with all stakeholders.

Oriented to achieve

HPOs practice total quality management (TQM) methodologies. The TQM philosophy promotes continuous improvement and a complete dedication to achieve strong quality results. It is these results that equate to happier employees and satisfied customers. As TrainingIndustry.com notes,
Organizations need to know who their true customer(s) are and those customers’ needs and wants. They both anticipate and deliver on “future or unrealized” needs.
In the end all of this will augment and add value to the organization. A business that can achieve HPO status is one that can effectively remain competitive in its respective industry by balancing the needs of both its internal and external stakeholders; essentially, anyone who has an interest in the organization. As current organizational behavior theories evolve, this is a model likely to be promoted as an effective way to succeed in a constantly evolving global business environment.

**This article was originally written by myself in January 2008 and published on Helium.com (later domain changed to InsideBusiness360.com. The site was shut down in December 2014). This piece has been updated for republish on my own blog. I feel the need to mention this because unfortunately some portions of this article had been plagiarized and integrated into other articles without attribution.


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