Culture is about how things get done within an organisation: defining what’s important and how decisions get made. Bottom line: Culture is a behavioural guideline. So if you want a high performance culture, you have to understand and cultivate the kind of traits — or behaviours — most likely to lead to highly engaged employees.

Whether you employ teachers, nurses, or software engineers, there are five traits that can lead to high performance in any organisation.

  1. Accountability: High performance cultures have a strong sense of accountability. This doesn’t mean between a staff member and his or her manager. It means leaders are accountable to their teams and teams are accountable to each other. Accountability from the top to the bottom and back around.
  2. Communication: Communication goes hand in hand with accountability. Poor communication can drag down any organisation, and there can be no peer accountability without respectful, professional, and fearless communication. Administrators need to communicate with teachers and staff when something isn’t working; likewise, administrators need to be open to receiving the same kind of feedback.
  3. Ownership:This is the essence of personal accountability. It’s not enough for team members their peers and supervisors accountable, they must also have a sense of personal accountability. An ownership mentality is the essence of personal accountability; the commitment to being a person of your word. This is the kind of mentality that breeds trust in a high performance environment.
  4. Clear Expectations: Expecting your staff to read your mind is a recipe for disaster. Everything from culture and strategy, to how they fit into the equation and what their objectives are should be clear. There should be no surprise when team members hold each others and the leaders within the organisation to account, because the expectation should be set right away.
  5. Opportunity:Keep your team members passionate and engaged by providing them opportunities to learn and grow. And while some leaders will naturally emerge, there may be others who are less gregarious, who need a bit more nurturing and encouragement. As a manager, your job is to see both and provide the opportunities for development accordingly.

These traits might manifest differently based on the values and culture of the organisation. However they show up, these five characteristics are often a recipe for infusing high performance into the culture of nearly any business, school, or nonprofit.