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What does it mean to Create Conditions for Performance?

One of the most critical aspects of a high performing organisation is to have a system of human resource practices that cultivate employee innovation, proactivity and engagement at work.

To become a high performing workplace, an organisation needs to enable employees to have the capacity and capability to perform beyond simply meeting performance requirements.

Key Strategies

Human Resources practices that can be used as an opportunity to promote thriving in the workplace include:

  • self-managed work teams;
  • recruitment and selection;
  • training and development;
  • compensation and benefits;
  • employee relations;
  • communication practices;
  • work design and involvement;
  • performance management and appraisals;
  • promotions and internal mobility; and
  • turnover, retention, and exit management.

Why is it important to Create Conditions for Performance?

In Australia, only 19% of employees report being highly engaged in their work.1 Such a high volume of employees experiencing ‘disengagement’ at work  can negatively affect productivity, and as a result, the bottom line for organisations.2

High performing employees are engaged, proactive, intrinsically motivated, find meaning in their work, apply their strengths and have opportunities to learn and grow. Engaged employees are more vigilant, energised, and focused on their work tasks.3 In turn, this high engagement translates to improved employee performance at work.

Unfortunately, few organisations are taking the steps to create conditions for high performance.4 Rather than purely focusing on measuring outcomes such as employee engagement, organisations need to take a step further and create a broader strategic action plan for high performance. This requires an organisation to take a critical look at their human resources strategies.


Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earning per share.5

Research-backed strategies to Create Conditions for Performance in your workplace

Introduce a system of human resource practices that cultivate employee innovation, proactivity and engagement at work.

Self-managed organising

Self-management is the organisational philosophy represented by individuals freely and autonomously performing the traditional functions of management without the need for hierarchy or arbitrary command authority over others. Instead of being assigned tasks based on functional roles, a self-managed team determines, plans and manages their day-to-day activities and duties under reduced or no supervision. A growing number of organisations are seeking ways to organise less hierarchically in this way in the hopes of becoming more innovative, nimble, and enriching places to work.6

Selective hiring practices

Selective hiring practices focus on recruiting the right person for the job, regardless of the effort required during the recruitment and selection process.7 Having a strong focus on hiring the best employees, using explicit and long-term criteria that relates to organisational strategy, has been shown to result in greater employee commitment and organisational performance.

Training and development

Training and development practices help employees develop new skills to strengthen the organisation’s functioning. Examples of high-performance training and development practices include cross-functional and multi-skilling training, and training for firm-specific skills.

Compensation and benefits

High performance compensation and benefits can include various forms of individual and team incentives. They can include incentive compensation payment plans, such as performance based rewards, gain sharing, profit sharing, stock ownership, and pay for skills.

Employee relations

Practices concerned with governing the relationship between employees and the employer can influence organisational culture, feelings of trust and organisational performance. Fair complaint and grievance procedures and employment security are two simple employee relations strategies that can enhance organisational performance.8

Communication practices

Information sharing across organisational levels is critical for high performance in general.9 It can reduce employee uncertainty, clarify goals, and help establish links between tasks and the overall strategy. Practices typically involve the use of a formal information sharing system or program to aid information sharing across departments and levels.

Participation in decision making

Employees have the power to make their own decisions on how to plan and schedule their tasks and the methods they use in their daily work. This can be accomplished by eliminating bureaucracy, reducing unnecessary rules and regulations, and providing alternative and flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or establishing self-managing teams.10

Flexible work practices

Designing work that allows for flexibility in time, leave, place, and choice.11 Flexible work can improve the performance and well-being of organisations, teams and employees. Promoting thriving through flexibility requires more than accommodating individual requests for flexible work. It requires re-organising all team members’ work to maximise performance and well-being.

Performance management and appraisal processes

These practices are concerned with measuring and improving team and individual performance. Examples include frequent feedback based on team/organisational goals, and managing objectives linked to strategies.

Promotions and internal mobility

These practices relate to the opportunities and methods by which employees can move to higher level positions within an organisation. Example practices include using promotions to reward good performance, career paths in the organisation, and job ladders.


There are two fundamental challenges for modern work – firstly, work happens in an increasingly uncertain world of rapid, unpredictable, and mostly sustained change. Secondly, employees are increasingly interdependent with other people through teams, networks, and interconnected systems. The Future of Work Design’s MAPNet approach helps organisations to understand the multitude of skills and activities that enable success in uncertain and interdependent work environments.


The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency have developed two free toolkits on workplace flexibility for managers and employees, including guidance on creating, communicating and fostering flexible work practices within teams.


In Australia, only 17% of team leaders made sure that employees had the resources available to complete their work, and only 14% stated that there are clear structures in place that ensure transparent decision making.12


  1. Markos, S., & Sridevi, M. S. (2010). Employee engagement: The key to improving performance. International Journal of Business and Management5(12), 89.
  2. Keating, L. A., & Heslin, P. A. (2015). The potential role of mindsets in unleashing employee engagement. Human Resource Management Review25(4), 329-341.
  3. The Gallup Organisation. (2017). State of the Global Workplace.
  4. The Gallup Organisation. (2013). How Employee Engagement Drives Growth.
  5. Lee, Michael & Edmondson, Amy. (2017). Self-managing organizations: Exploring the limits of less-hierarchical organizing. Research in Organizational Behavior, 37, 35-58.
  6. Pfeffer, J., & Veiga, J. F. (1999). Putting people first for organizational success. Academy of Management Perspectives13(2), 37-48.
  7. Pfeffer, J. (1998). The human equation: Building profits by putting people first. Boston: Harvard Business School Press
  8. Zacharatos, A., Barling, J., & Iverson, R. D. (2005). High-performance work systems and occupational safety. Journal of Applied Psychology90(1), 77.
  9. Parker, S. K., & Ohly, S. (2008). Job design and work role demands, In R. Kanfer, G. Chen & R. Pritchard (Eds.), Work motivation: Past, present and future. SIOP Frontiers Series (pp. 299-284). Hillside, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates.
  10. Parker, S. K., & Ohly, S. (2008). Job design and work role demands, In R. Kanfer, G. Chen & R. Pritchard (Eds.), Work motivation: Past, present and future. SIOP Frontiers Series (pp. 299-284). Hillside, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates.
  11. Diversity Council of Australia. (2016). Future-Flex: Mainstreaming Flexibility by Design.
Next step

Create Conditions for Connection

A critical aspect of a thriving organisation relates to the meaning employees derive from their work, through the quality of their connections and relationships at work.