Short-Term Thinking in a High-Performance Culture

Short-Term Thinking in a High-Performance Culture

What is Culture?

What is workplace culture? Hellebore defines culture as our unique set of principles and processes that affect the motivation of our people.

More profoundly, how do principles and processes work to create culture? This comes down to behavioral economics and its role in the workplace.

Developing a Strong Culture

Developing and building a strong culture is critical to Hellebore. There is a high correlation among employee engagement, the success of our clients, our ability to continually innovate, and the success of our company.

From a 2015 article in the Harvard Business Review:

“In a recent strategy meeting we attended with the leaders of a Fortune-500 company, the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control. So most executives manage it according to their intuition.” [How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation (]

Long-Term Employees

Long-term employees are, ideally, what any high-performance organization wishes to hire. These staff are looking for careers, are dedicated to our company’s mission, and see their own success tied to the success of our clients. Unfortunately, there can be times when people develop short-term thinking. That is, staff that stop thinking about their career or the client’s success and instead focus only on their personal success and their task success.

Short-Term Employees

Short-term employees can be motivated outside of total project success. Sometimes to the detriment to the project. If an employee believes they will not be there to share in the success or failure of the project, they may be motivated by micro-projects that they have a stake in the outcome (success or failure). These micro-projects may not be aligned with total project success. Shaping a worker’s motives can help shape their performance. Culturally, it is essential to ensure that all staff’s motivations (short term, long term, career, compensation, etc.) align to project success. Identifying staff with short-term motivations can be key. Ideally, short-term staff need to be coached and re-aligned to the total success of their projects and the company.


The three highest motivators for work are Play, Purpose, and Potential. When we started Hellebore, this was exactly (though in different words) what we founded it on. We wanted to work with people we liked (Play) on interesting and meaningful projects (Purpose and Potential).

Embedding this into our processes means continually improving and developing Principles to align our outcomes with our goals. To that end, we work to design each role within the company as a component to a machine. Once someone joins our team, we work to instill a sense of ownership over our mission. This motivates individuals internally and helps build team cohesion even when working remotely or within client sites. Other strong contributors to our culture include:

  • Continuing education and building domain expertise
  • Principle-based, Adaptive governance
  • Continuous performance reviews

Turn Theory into Action

Building a high-performing culture only comes when an organization can turn theory into action. Driving long-term employee engagement requires a concerted effort from every individual in the company. While it must be driven by leadership, it must be accepted and perpetuated by all.

Further Reading

John Far​rier

John Far​rier

Chief Executive Officer

CEO, Hellebore Consulting Group. John has over 20 years of experience in building software for DoD organizations, leading organizational change, and building strong cultures.

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