7 ways to move from Me to We

March 01, 2016

Trust exercise
I would like to invite you into the meeting room of a large international corporation. The CEO just flew in from headquarter to boost morale. Management waiting in anticipation for the big boss. The meeting starts, and the CEO harshly delivers his morale booster, and formula for success;

  1. If performance is not raised, the office will close.
  2. Those who can’t row fast enough will be thrown overboard.
  3. To raise performance, employees are to be benchmarked against each other.


Meaning not just within for instance the sales force globally, but against teams that are doing something completely different. Like the team selling projects is benchmarked against the team selling spare parts. Which is an unreasonable comparison as conditions and industries and markets varies.

And the big strategic challenge for this company was that they didn’t understand why they couldn’t retain people and constantly had to go fishing for new talent at the competition!

True story, which many probably have experienced in one shape or form. This CEO intentionally wanted to create a culture of fear to motivate people more. And you might raise performance in the short term, but it is not a sustainable growth as it erodes the organization by creating a situation where two things will happen. 1) You end up loosing employees that look for opportunities elsewhere and 2) you are stuck with employees only working for personal gain, trying to squeeze out colleagues – because it is either me or you.

As Simon Sinek writes in his book ‘Leaders Eat Last –why some teams pull together and others don’t’,

“The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people pull together as a team. And that doesn’t happen in a vacuum.“

As Sinek points out, the dangers that threaten the performance of a business are many – competition, ups and downs of stock market, new innovations, new technology, the urgency to meet expectations. And we have no direct control over these external threats to the performance of the business. But we don’t need additional dangers within the organization. So, to quote Simon Sinek one last time:

“It should be the goal of leadership to set a culture free of danger from each other”. 

As research shows, the equation goes – More trust = more engagement = higher performance.

Based on the idea that “alone we can do good, together we can do great”, (a line borrowed from a great leader, I know) – I here give you 7 ideas to increase team performance by creating a culture of trust instead of fear.

Reward team performance and scrap individual appraisal. Getting teams to work together to create results instead of working against each other. And get the team to be the basic unit of accountability. It will create greater collaboration and together we can do more.

Reward making a difference over achievements. If you are only rewarded on the results you create for yourself, you are less likely to go out of your way to help others. When you reward employees on making a positive difference for each other you create a culture of trust where people help each other to succeed, and ultimately create better results for the company.

Reward living the values. Have employees reward each other when they see someone living the values of the organization. When employees have collected a certain amount of points, they can turn them into gifts, days off. This will create trust as well as keep the values alive.

Reward collaboration. Have employees reward the colleagues that helped them this week to support appreciation and collaborations. Scale it to monthly recognition as well. Rewards can include personal training sessions, lunch with the CEO, gifts.

Reward customer service. Give Woo points to employee who has gone beyond expected for customers to create room for more creativity, engagement and new ways to make a difference. This creates greater customer relations and customer feedback, as it becomes more about the relation than just the sale.

Make contribution to culture equally important.
Measure employees equally on their contribution to culture as contribution to profit. This sends a message that culture is equally as important as profit. And you will get employees, who put time into creating a great culture, which leads to strong performance.

Reward good leadership. Peer voting giving awards for servant leadership to recognize what good leadership is and use it to role model true leadership for all employees.

Oh, and a small but important tip – make all recognition bottom up and not top down. Having senior management decide and give out rewards can make for jealousy and lack of transparency in terms of how to achieve recognition. Using peer voting keeps it in team spirit.

Want to read more about moving from me to we? This post talks about how to decrease the release of dopamine in the brain and release more oxytocin, to make employees less selfish and more happy.

Did you find this useful? Please share with anyone you like to help creating businesses where people and profit thrive together. And if you are not already a part of the community, I hope you sign up for my newsletter to get more information on how conscious businesses outperform traditional companies. I appreciate your engagement.


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