Is your company a "high-performance company"?

Is it the one others point to as the exemplar in your field?

If not, you're probably dwelling in that vast arena of business mediocrity or, worse yet, floundering for survival.

Not the place you want to be, obviously.

So what is a high-performance company and how do you achieve it?

A high-performance company is not that much different from a high-performance automobile--the principle is the same.

You take the best materials available and organize them into the systems that are designed to use energy in the most efficient and elegant ways possible.

Whether talking about cars or companies, high-performance ones are not run-of-the-mill. They're unique and often one-of-a-kind designs created to do specific things very, very well. Exceptionally well, in fact.

The price of such exceptional performance is that they need continual fine-tuning. But they're worth the effort because they accomplish their purpose better than anything else out there.

High-performance companies create a "game worth playing" for everyone involved. They engage employees, draw customers, motivate vendors, interest investors, and reassure lenders.

Their energy and vitality inspire confidence in everyone they touch.

What business wouldn't want to look and feel like that!

Here are five hallmarks of high-performance companies that set them apart:

Hallmark #1: Dedication to their clearly defined purpose

What is your company's "reason for being"? What are the results you're committed to producing for each and every customer?

Does every employee know the company's purpose and his or her role in creating it?

Does every company system contribute to achieving this purpose?

High-performance companies are crystal clear as to what their purpose is, and they know that integrating it throughout their operations is the only way to move from "lip service" to realization.

Hallmark #2: An operating structure expressly designed for that purpose

The structure of your business is more than organization charts and reporting relationships. It also includes values, rewards and incentives, policies and procedures, and even unconscious assumptions.

Your company's structure needs to recognize that all of these factors influence behavior, direct the flow of human energy, and shape how and why your people do their jobs the way they do.

So you need to examine these structural components, the effects they're having, and the results they're producing, and then ensure they're in alignment with your company's purpose.

In high-performance companies, purpose and structure are elegantly congruent.

Hallmark #3: Commitment to providing people with the tools and training they need to produce results

Rather than trying to hire people with the exact skills and qualifications you're looking for, better to hire those with the basic, core qualifications and a desire and willingness to learn and grow.

Even the best employees need to learn how to do it "your way" and the tools to use that training for maximum effect.

When you give people the training and tools to become better than they are, maybe even better than they believed they could be, you develop a powerhouse, high-performance, and loyal workforce.

Hallmark #4: An ongoing process of quantification and evaluation

High-performance companies know that they need to stay calibrated to keep the work and the results of that work in alignment with where the company should be headed.

Choose your key indicators thoughtfully, measure and monitor them regularly, and involve your people in evaluating the numbers and making productive and innovative adjustments to keep your company on track and exceeding expectations.

Hallmark #5: The ability to relish change and use it as source of forward movement

High-performance companies see change as a resource--as opportunities to test assumptions, evaluate the true efficacy of systems, add to their collective knowledge, and grow the business.

Not only that, they actually relish change the way the driver of a high-performance car relishes an oncoming hill--as an opportunity to let out the throttle and see what the machine can really do.

So get on it and get ready to take that hill.

Because nothing beats the excitement of a company that's running on all cylinders, which is what a high-performance company is not only designed to do, but what it loves to do.

Published on: Dec 12, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.