High Performance Engagement

A High Performance High Engagement (HPHE) organisation is one that is designed to maximise the motivation of its employees. It motivates employees by engaging them directly and deeply in solving the problems that prevent the performance of the organisation.

A HPHE strategy is built on the idea that people working together collaboratively will deliver better results for a business, better results for unions and better results for employees. HPHE focuses on developing a culture of partnership between the parties to an employment relationship and sets in place structures and tools that encourages high participation and collaboration at work.  It is a form of Labour Management Partnership.

Benefits of High Performance High Engagement for a Company, Unions and Employees.

Unions want to influence employer decision-making in the interests of their members and this has been traditionally exerted after the employer makes a decision and therefore will often come in the form of opposition and resistance.  Using a HPHE approach, unions and their members are engaged before the decision is made providing them with the opportunity to bring their collective knowledge and experience to the table and have a significant influence on employer decision-making.

Respected leadership author and senior MIT lecturer Peter Senge describes such an approach as;
“It’s not about ‘the smartest guys in the room.’ It’s about what we can do collectively. So the intelligence that matters is collective intelligence, and that’s the concept of ‘smart’ . . .”

It’s important to note that a HPHE partnership does not automatically preclude the use of strike action/lock out or legal action. These options will always be available to the union and business but adopting HPHE means that this would only be the course of action if the parties were unable to find a solution that meets a majority of their respective interests.

An HPHE strategy means companies make better decisions by harnessing their people’s intellect and as a result are more likely to deliver better commercial outcomes. Because decisions are made in a collaborative fashion there is less opposition and resistance leading to faster implementation for delivery to customers.

In the short-term the return on investment for both company and unions is delivered through less service disruption and reduced litigation costs. In the mid-term, the returns are derived from better and more cost-effective implementation of improvements which leads to increased employee engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue.

Ultimately, however HPHE, is a long term strategy that embeds a constructive culture which delivers on sustainable customer satisfaction and commercial performance.

New Zealand’s new Labour Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, summed it up perfectly in her speech to the Council of Trade Unions Conference in October 2017:
“We know that when business and workers join together, we can achieve great things. Just look at the Air New Zealand agreement – the model of high performance, and high engagement cooperation between workers and employers. Unions and the business took a situation where a company was losing money and looking to cut jobs, and turned it around so that jobs were saved, they were made more productive, and the future of the business was transformed.”

In summary, the recognised benefits of a HPHE strategy are increased influence and possible reward for union partners and their members while increasing commercial, customer and culture outcomes for a company.

High Performance Engagement is a fundamentally different approach.

In traditional organisations the role of management is to solve problems and instruct people what to do, how to do it and when. In a high performance high engagement organisation the employees are given the responsibility, the authority and the power to solve their own problems and managers are there to act as a resource to help them to deliver that performance. In doing so the people own the performance and in owning the performance have a much higher level of commitment. They are constantly using their discretionary effort and judgement as opposed to just doing their job. The result is a much higher level of performance.

This difference between the traditional approach and a high performance high engagement approach has been extremely well summed up in a true story by Captain David Marquet in a book called Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders.

Captain Marquet served in the U.S. submarine force for 28 years. After being assigned to command the nuclear powered submarine USS Santa Fe, then ranked last in retention and operational standing, he realized the traditional leadership approach of “take control, give orders,” wouldn’t work. He “turned his ship around” by treating the crew as leaders, not followers, and giving control, not taking control. This approach took the Santa Fe from “worst to first,” achieving the highest retention and operational standings in the navy.

In the foreword Stephen Covey says:

“We are in the middle of one of the most profound shifts in human history, where the primary work of mankind is moving from the Industrial Age of “control” to the Knowledge Worker Age of “release.” “
“Our world’s bright future will be built by people who have discovered that leadership is the enabling art. It is the art of releasing human talent and potential.”


Delivering better business outcomes.

The guiding principle behind High Performance Engagement is that the people closest to the problem (or opportunity) are involved and engaged in solving the problem (or opportunity).  This is perfectly aligned with many Continuous Improvement methodologies like Lean, Six-sigma, Kaizen, Toyota Production System. 

Unlike many Continuous Improvement methodologies which focus on delivering better Customer and Commercial outcomes a High Performance Engagement approach delivers on Culture AND Customer AND Commercial outcomes.

This is smart business.  Every commercial organisation has to get three things right to be sustainable:
  1. It must provide security and satisfaction for it's employees (Culture).
  2. It must satisfy it's customers by improving it's service and products (Customer).
  3. It must satisfy it's shareholders by making more money now and in the future (Commercial).
Delivering on these three strategic pillars through High Performance Engagement resolves a conflict that has been a constraint for organisations for decades.
  1. To satisfy shareholders commercial expectations it is necessary to satisfy customers and have secure and satisfied employees. (the task focus)
  2. To satisfy customer expectations it is necessary to have secure and satisfies employees and commercial satisfaction. (the improvement focus)
  3. To satisfy security and satisfaction for employees (culture) it is necessary to have commercial satisfaction and customer satisfaction. (the people focus)
High Performance Engagement creates High Performance Cultures through three foundations:
  1. Involving the people closest to the business problems in the problem solving. To do this successfully requires a collaboration between those impacted by the problem directly as well as subject matter experts and management.
  2. Constructive inter-personal behaviour between the people involved in the problem solving.
  3. The use of Systems thinking.  This is a 'whole system' form of rational thinking and problem solving.  At Air New Zeland they use Interest Based Problem Solving.
The combination of these three things when practiced consistently has a profound impact on the way people think and behave, how they make decisions and in turn creates a set of culture norms that is highly engaging, delivers great customer satisfaction and greater commercial returns.

"Put your staff first, your customers second and your shareholders third."  - Richard Branson


Experienced High Performance Engagement Facilitator, Coach and Consultant.

KP 75x75

Karl Perry

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