How To Build A Culture For A Successful High Performance Team

SOFT SKILLS MATTER)Today’s highly competitive world requires businesses to be forward-looking, innovative, and offer consistent, great customer service. However for that to occur, they need to develop a culture that will help to achieve success and longevity.

Below are some of the key elements necessary for leaders to construct, implement, and maintain an internal architecture that fosters autonomy, mastery, and purpose in an environment that is collaborative, respectful, encouraging, supportive, acknowledging, and creative. Successful businesses require effective, committed leaders who not only model their philosophy and core values, but do so because they wish to establish business practices that will result in profitable long term organizations operating with teams that share those beliefs and ideals.

So let’s begin with the leader.

  1. The leader needs to be an effective communicator who employs an honest, open, and respectful and style of communication. The collaborative approach to problem solving and decision-making (in the appropriate circumstances) also goes a long way toward engaging employees. Finally, the most important communication skill is active listening as this is the cornerstone to developing and maintaining meaningful, long lasting relationships, actually in all aspects of our lives. It is how we learn about the concerns, needs and desires of others.
  2. The leader must be a person who listens actively to all suggestions and ideas, plans strategically, acts decisively and competently, and is not afraid of taking risks when necessary.
  3. He/she must also be supportive, encouraging, and willing to give credit where credit is due.
  4. He/she must be able to “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk” or the employees will not find them believable or be inclined to buy into policies and procedures when offered.
  5. The leader needs to be somewhat inspirational and interesting so that they invite curiosity and intrigue about what might happen next, while at the same time being transparent and making clear the projects to be undertaken, the time lines to be met and the parameters under which the necessary tasks need to be accomplished. The leader should be enthusiastic, self-confident and fair-minded.
  6. The leader needs to be honest, accountable, and responsible.
  7. The leader needs to be a good delegator, offering the right tasks to the right person….the individual who will be best for the task.
  8. The leader needs to be interested in his/her team members, get to know them so that their gifts and skills can be leveraged and improved as necessary. In addition, the leader must help each team member to understand how they fit into the big picture of the organization.
  9. The leader needs to be available as a coach or mentor when necessary so that he/she can ensure that every team member can reach their potential; which will benefit that individual and the entire organization.
  • The leader needs to have a vision for his/her organization.
  • The leader sets the tone for the organization and must model his/her aims, goals and core values. He/she needs to espouse a positive, optimistic attitude in all they do. They light the way!

Culture development….that is the key and it must be created, modelled, committed to, and maintained by the leadership.

  1. The best style of culture is one of AMP: autonomy, mastery and When employees are allowed autonomy they become better self-starters, more creative, more efficient and more productive. They learn that they are valued, respected and trusted so gain confidence. They become more decisive in their approaches and so in general become more valuable to the team as a whole. When employees are allowed to master their skills in an area they again feel more confident, become more creative and are much happier in their work as they feel more challenged and work harder to develop new ideas, strategies and processes. Encouraging this growth shows support, trust and confidence in their abilities. When employees have a purpose driving their achievement; they will go way beyond expectations to reach those goals just to feel like they have gained new heights for the “greater good”…it will not even require actual rewards to move them in this direction. Happy employees are more productive, efficient and creative which makes them more valuable to the organization.   In addition, it will mean less sick time and less turnover, both of which are very costly. Allow those 3 issues to be realized and you will have an amazing high performing team of dedicated, creative , efficient , productive and happy individuals all working together for the best outcomes they can achieve. You will have developed an internal culture that will keep employees engaged, challenged and happy.
  2. The next aspect is respect. Everyone wants to be respected and a workplace that does not espouse that attitude makes for one that is not very comfortable and will likely have more mistakes, sick time and staff turnover. This includes cultural background, gender, disabilities, educational background, and religious diversity…..all of which need to be respected. Especially today with our workplaces being so diverse and with the newer harassment laws now in our labour codes. Being sensitive to the differences of others is key to a respectful work environment.
  3. Collaboration as an approach. This is another aspect of good teamwork and a happy, productive workplace.   When employees are part of the process, they are more likely to buy into the outcomes of discussions, resolution of problems and decisions about process. All of which, once more, makes for a happier work environment.
  4. Engagement is key for employees. Individuals need to feel challenged and interested in their work. They need to understand how they fit into the organization and realize that their responsibilities are integral to the success of the team and the outcomes the organization wishes to achieve. The more they feel connected, appreciated and involved in important issues, the more engaged they will be. Engaged employees are enthusiastic and excited about their jobs. They resist distractions, tend to forget about time and routinely produce significantly more than the job requires. They enjoy searching for ways to improve circumstances, volunteer for difficult assignments and are proud of where they work.
  5. Assessments are important. Knowing how one is doing is helpful in continuing to do well or improving a necessary. Supportive suggestions and encouragement are the best way of approaching this sometimes anxiety ridden aspect of one’s job. However, it is definitely beneficial to do these.
  6. Have Fun. Some organizations may reject the notion of fun in the workplace because they cannot see any direct business outcomes from such activities. However, embrace fun in the workplace because whose who enjoy their workplace environment are more positive about their position and company, have higher levels of engagement, and are less likely to think about resigning. Fun activities also encourage employees to socialize, enabling another driver of engagement: the foundation of strong co-worker relations in the workplace.

If you employ the ideas shared in this article you will be much more likely to create and maintain the sort of culture that should guarantee success and longevity for your business.


Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

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  1. Looking at success cultures they also have a foundation of planning, problem solving, and the willingness to challenge the status quo. They also seem to have a common business language too. And the executives use their whole bodies to communicate.

    • Hi Chris,
      As usual you have offered some valuable input. The executive team is who creates the internal architecture of their organization as well as maintaining, committing to it and modeling it so that their people will understand how it works. In addition, they need excellent communication skills so that they can articulate their vision with clarity, impact & influence. If they do not welcome input, they will miss out on possible innovations and valuable input from their people. Besides, the more collaborative their problem solving and brain storming approaches, the more buy in they will get from their people.

    • Agreed. And in much larger and more complex environments this is getting harder and harder to do.

      That’s why our firm focuses on these as the core of our service: business restructuring, business modernization, and data-driven business management.

    • Makes sense as inroad to get their attention! Too many organizations tend to focus on the bottom line forgetting that their most valuable asset is their people! So showing them with data, how focusing on that aspect would be beneficial could certainly help to get them onboard with appropriate changes.