Three ways to build a work culture that can change the world

Three ways to build a work culture that can change the world.

The nucleus of a successful and sustainable high-performance culture is caring. To make it more practical and to link caring and empathy to sustainable performance and to a sustainable growth culture caring must happen at the following levels –

  • Caring for each other sincerely as a family and as individuals of the same family
  • Caring for the high standards and values that we collectively aspire to as a team
  • Caring about connection, cohesion, and collaboration, therefore, being very careful of forming rigid hierarchies and creating silo effects.

OKRs are frameworks that can offer great support in transforming cultures and rigid hierarchies, and demolishing silos’. Caring strongly about the objectives of the company as well as the ultimate vision of the company is a function of a corporate culture wherein people feel safe, valued, and heard. Also, wherein they feel that they are in a position to collectively have a strong and positive impact on society and the world at large.

A strong crowd would likely agree that work culture is the context for performance – As the saying goes: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast. The most highly skilled top performers will not produce the desired results for you if they do not function in a spirited team and their individual best efforts will be suffocated by toxicity within a very negative environment.

Very recent and some ongoing global events form beacons that reveal the glaring need for positive change. The world needs to change for the better – this starts with each individual unlocking their potential so that they can make their best positive contribution to this world. Corporates and small businesses alike need to reform to not only seek profit but to seek global positive impact.

What follows are three ways to not only build a high-performance work culture to increase profit but also to change the world for the positive.

1. Sincere caring unlocks Performance

In a new work environment, anybody would desperately want to find out what their status in the group is if they truly belong here, and exactly how secure their jobs are. Once-off discussions on the above do not suffice, consistent reinforcement and cues of human connection need to be visible and believable for team members to have a strong sense of safety. 

Why are some highly intelligent and skilled individuals’ performance levels dramatically diminished within a team? – If they are unsure of their group status, and do not have a sense of job security or belonging, they will be plagued by thoughts of how to survive and will have little trust and little energy to be empowered to perform at their best.

A study on feedback by a team of Stanford psychologists led to the discovery of what was called ‘magical feedback’- It was profoundly more impactful than other modes of feedback during the study. This feedback was very simple in fact and consisted of only one sentence:

‘I am giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know you can reach them

Upon close investigation this one very powerful sentence contains the following cues:

1. It provides the sense that you are part of this group

2. This group is unique and special and high standards are ingrained in this culture

3. Whoever provides the feedback believes in you

A culture wherein a sense of belonging, belief, and high standards are created and maintained can unlock the very best in people. High standards and caring for them deeply and collectively are hallmarks of a high-performing family.

Meeting challenging objectives, key results, goals, KPIs, or any other goals is much simpler for a team with a sense of belonging, with known and grasped high standards, and sincere belief in each other and the vision that they are after.

2. Radical transparency

Everything happens at the speed of trust’ – when levels of trust are low, everything moves slowly or comes to a standstill. When trust levels are high everything can move forward at a rapid pace.

When a Vision and related objectives of a company are known by only a select few it is very hard or maybe even impossible to galvanize a team around future-directed goals. Radical transparency is required around what we collectively want to achieve, why we want to achieve it (purpose, meaning, impact), and how we will achieve it (fostering collaboration, creativity, and teamwork)

A work culture wherein communication is not only sparse but vague and barely filters through an established hierarchy does not bode well for the future. Short but powerful bursts of action-orientated communication that empower team members are very meaningful.

Radical transparency, within the context of caring and empathy, supports a growth culture and must be part of town halls, check-ins, and meetings. 

Inaccurate information can nullify strategies, therefore candor in terms of what we do know and don’t know is required.

Strong visual representations of not only goals and objectives but also the vision and value system of the company must be made and more importantly practiced. When clear and positive communication is underpinned by accurate and frequent visual representations it forms a potent formula that incites motivation.

3. Servant Leadership 

‘ It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory and when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership’

Nelson Mandela

A shoulder-to-shoulder approach to getting things done as a team builds ‘family spirit’, breaks down the silo and hierarchical effect, and boosts performance. 

Google’s parking lot hockey games where management and employees fight equally as hard for control of the ‘puck’ and their open Friday debates where there is no hierarchy at play, signal equality, empowerment, and a strong sense of belonging. 

For all of the above to become part and parcel of a high-performance work culture, strong servant leadership is a necessity. Hierarchies and the formation of silos make both communication and performance way more complicated than they should and can be.

Servant leaders recognize their responsibility of empowering others by giving them both the correct information and mentorship. Servant leaders ensure that the limelight falls on the team and not on them.

They create strong relationships and ensure that the work that is done together is done within the context of those same relationships. Shared values, high standards, empathy, and caring form the ‘filters’ for those relationships.

Leaders with a servant’s heart serve their people through supportive coaching and creating an empowering environment, wherein people learn to become servant leaders themselves.

Join our OKR Leadership course to learn the practical application of servant leadership and its impact on OKRs:


Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute