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home | Sample Articles | Build a Championship Culture with th . . .

Build a Championship Culture with the Performance-Values Matrix

Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center
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Looking to build and sustain a Championship Culture in your team, athletic department, or organization?

As a team leader, you will obviously need to find, develop, and reward a team of highly talented people who fully understand, embrace, and enact your program's Vision, Values, and Standards.

To build a high-performance, world-class culture at General Electric, former CEO Jack Welch developed a simple, yet profound and powerful Performance-Values Matrix to guide GE's ascent. Welch's Matrix evaluated people along two critical dimensions:

1. Performance: how well the person drives and achieves important results
2. Values: how well the person embodies and exemplifies the team's Core Values

Welch and GE executives evaluated employees and managers in accordance with the Performance-Values Matrix to see how well they performed and fit within GE's culture. Similarly, as team captain, you too can adapt and adopt this practical and proven Performance-Values Matrix to evaluate, categorize, and coach the people on your team.


Simply grab a roster of your people and rate them using a 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale on these two important dimensions:

Rate each person on your team according to the Performance and Values dimensions and place their names where you view them on the Matrix. Ultimately, after completing this exercise, you will find that there are four categories of people who will emerge:

Box 1 - Poor Performers/Culture Killers
Box 2 - Poor Performers/Culture Champions
Box 3 - Peak Performers/Culture Killers
Box 4 - Peak Performers/Culture Champions


After evaluating your team, you may find a group of people who neither produce sufficient results nor adequately embrace your values. Because of their poor performance and lack of cultural fit, this group creates a tremendous drag for your program. Not only can't they get the job done, they likely complain about how things are done and thus dilute and pollute your culture for the rest of the group. Working with these difficult people is like trying to drive a car while an annoying backseat driver pulls on your emergency brake and tells you to slow down and go in a different direction.

These are the people who, quite candidly, both "can't" and "won't". They likely don't have the talent or competence necessary to contribute nor the commitment or character to do so within your program. Because they are not on board with you or your expectations, it is easier for them to resist and complain about the changes you need them to make. Left unchecked, these people water down your culture at best or destroy it from within at worst. To quote one of my favorite adages, "I'd rather have 1,000 enemies outside the tent than 1 inside the tent." These people are the insidious enemies inside your own tent.


You may find some people are a strong fit with our values but unfortunately aren't performing up to the levels you need them to. Fortunately, these people understand and live your Vision and Values, but have a hard time consistently producing the results you need to be a high-performance team. This group is often made up of your reserves, who likely are good people and mean well, but presently just don't have their athletic or physical skills sufficiently developed or mastered to really help your team from a performance standpoint. But they can still make a positive difference for your team from the sidelines and in the locker room by living your culture and encouraging their teammates to do the same.


These are the people who athletically can get the job done for your team but act in ways that are inconsistent with and even contrary to your culture. They often pose a very challenging dilemma for many coaches, captains, and ADs because they perform very well but are clearly misaligned with the values of the program.

For example, this is the superstar performer who is clearly your team's best athlete but regularly shows up late to practice, has an entitled, selfish, and lazy attitude, doesn't get along well with the rest of the team, neglects his schoolwork, and feels he is doing the team a huge favor by being on it.

Sadly, because of his (or her) supreme talent, many captains, coaches and ADs are afraid to confront him about his antics because they fear upsetting or losing the talented, yet turbulent superstar. Or perhaps they do manage to say something but never follow through to discipline him and hold him accountable for his actions. This situation often arises when a struggling or up and coming team is trying to breakthrough and compete with more talented and established teams. The underdog team feels the only way they have a chance to compete and win against the "top dawgs" is if they let their surly superstar play and excuse his troublesome behavior - thereby sacrificing their values and sending a confusing and conflicting message to everyone else.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team is usually fed up with the superstar's bad behavior, acerbic attitude, and the apparent double standards of the coaching staff so they mentally and emotionally check out and become Existent, Reluctant, or Resistant because of the unfair treatment. I have seen many a coach and AD succumb to this situation and allow themselves to be held hostage by a prima donna superstar. It is not fun for anyone involved, except of course the superstar, and a quick way to create a Corrosive Culture.


Finally, you will hopefully find a group of people, including yourself, who both embrace your program's Vision, Values, and Standards AND consistently get the job done and your team. These people are the backbone of your program and are essential to your success.

Build your program around Peak Performers/Culture Champions, put them in leadership positions, and create a powerful partnership with them to help co-lead the team. Harness their credibility and influence to create and sustain the kind of culture you need to be successful. And work with them to communicate with and coach the people in the other boxes in an effort to draw them closer to their level. Be sure to thank them and appreciate them for all they do for you and your team! They make your job as a captain easier and are the kind and quality of people you want to keep around for as long as possible!


Categorizing people on the Performance-Values Matrix is the easy part. Coaching them to higher levels and potentially cutting them from your program is obviously the much tougher part.
You now need to decide how you are going to deal with them for the health of your culture and the success of your team.

Our Championship Coaches Network members can click on Part 2 of this article linked below to discover several practical and proven ways of coaching people in each of the 4 Boxes to help you and your team.

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·  How to Motivate Your Teammates Using the Performance-Values Matrix