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The Four Pillars of Peak Business Performance

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Getting your organization to work at maximum performance requires everyone to work together toward common goals and objectives. It also requires each person to be clear on role and responsibilities, as well as being accountable for success (or failure).

The confusion often comes when each person's role in the organization requires wearing multiple "hats." For example, you may be the owner of the company, but not be the most qualified person in the organization to make the decisions on projects or tasks that require specialized knowledge. Another example: an employee who has decades of experience working in large corporations may not be the best option for running a small enterprise.

Ultimately for organizations to succeed it requires the selection of the right people, putting them in the right positions and delegating the right roles and responsibilities to each as an individual and as part of a team. The old saying there is no "I" in team has truth to it. However, each person brings unique abilities and we need those "I"ndividuals to maximize the application of their skill sets and abilities to achieve peak performance at a personal, team and organizational level.

When you are establishing the goals and objectives of your company, it is important to define four key criteria for PEAK performance: Purpose, Execution, Accountability, and Key performance indicators. You and your organization will benefit from the clarity of knowing what needs to be done, who has the responsibility for doing it, and how performance will be measured.

The organization can be aligned effectively to maximize the use of resources by taking the characteristics of the organization's PEAK goals and then breaking them down into components and assigning them to projects, teams, groups, and individuals. Keeping these unifying characteristics woven throughout the various levels ensures that your organization works as cohesive unit rather than working against each other.

Purpose

You set a goal. It must be clear, something that can be conveyed to the entire organization and it needs to be clearly connected to a Purpose that motivates the organization to act, individually and cohesively. One organization with whom I worked set a goal of having its sales force meet with 50 prospects per week. Why? The obvious answer is "to make a sale," but why 50? Why not 40 or 20? They selected the target goal of 50 prospect meetings per week because they knew that less than 10% of those prospect meetings would convert to high-probability sales leads.

Execution

You can't do everything. You must be able to rely on your team to execute. A well-qualified team makes execution easier. When you have clear goals, a stated purpose behind those goals, then you are in a position to enable your team to go to work and be effective. Execution has many paths, but only one goal. Your team needs the latitude to select the way they do the work within the parameters of the goal and purpose. You set direction, guidelines, and methods/processes for execution that specify the things that "must" be done a certain way, but give each person the responsibility to exercise discretion that takes maximum advantage of their individual skill sets, experience, and education.

Accountability

Where there is clarity of purpose and delegation of responsibility to execute, there must be accountability. You are performing and getting results ... or you aren't. You achieve the goals, meet key performance requirements including deadlines and timelines on execution, and you get measured on that performance. Everyone has to pull their weight and get results. An organization does no one any good by allowing or tolerating poor performance. As a manager you have to be frank as to the expectations of performance, fair in evaluating and enforcing those requirements, and swift to correct unacceptable behavior. Everyone is accountable to the organization and the other team members to do the work assigned.

Key performance indicators

If you want to be able to enforce accountability, then you must be able to measure performance. Performance is best measured against objective criteria. Going back to the sales meeting example, if you need 50 meetings a week and have 5 sales team members, each is responsible for 10 meetings. The clearer the metric, the easier it is to observe the execution and hold individuals and teams accountable.

Is your organization working at PEAK performance? Does your team know where the organization is headed and the role they play? Do they know what they are responsible for doing and when? Do they know the purpose behind the goals and metrics? Do they know what they are being measured against?

--By Lea Strickland

Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Lea Strickland, M.B.A., is the founder of Technovation Entrepreneur , a program that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into businesses. Strickland is the author of "Out of the Cubicle and Into Business" and "One Great Idea!" She has more than 20 years of experience in operational leadership in Fortune 500 and Global 100 companies, including Ford, Solectron and Newell.

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