These 3 Factors Make an Almost 40% Difference in Employee Performance / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Three cultural changes have the potential to make a big difference to any business. How will you put these concepts to work?

As a manager, you know all the factors that contribute to great teamwork.

You use sports analogies, put all the great minds into a room together, and assign everyone a task, and send them out to be successful all on their own. You end up with a fantastic product.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Google, one of the most innovative and adaptive companies in the tech marketplace, recently studied performance across their teams.

Since Google is known for recruiting the best and brightest minds available, and providing them with an almost idyllic environment in which to work, they expected to find that their teams would consistently perform above expectations.

Instead, they found that some teams underperformed by almost 20 percent, while others went almost 20 percent above expectations. What was the difference? The company found three contributing factors that made a huge difference to their teams.

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Meaning Matters

For many projects, leaders assume that the only motivation they need to provide is the company’s motivation in creating the project. They, therefore, focus on giving team members information about what the company is trying to achieve, and don’t worry about what might motivate team members to do their best work.

According to Google’s study, this is a mistake. While successful employees are motivated by an interest in seeing their company do well external motivation they provide their very best work when they are intrinsically motivated as well. When someone is personally excited about a project or goal, they are more likely to go the extra mile and put forth the extra effort to make sure the project is a success.

What Does This Mean for Team Leaders

If you are the leader on a team, whether that is the CEO of a small business or the manager of a diverse team of individuals, your responsibility is to know what motivates your team members and assign them projects which engage them on an individual level.

Promote Interdependence

Clarity of roles is important to team success; everyone has to know what they are working on. There are times that we all feel lost, but it is possible to have too much clarity, and create a brittle team where everyone does exactly what they’ve been assigned, and no more.

Every project, no matter how well designed, will have periods of flux and change. In order to adapt to those changes, leaders need to create just enough structure to keep everyone pointed in the same direction, but avoid situations where everyone’s creativity feels stifled because someone else is supposed to be taking care of the thing they’re interested in.

Related Article:What Do a Company’s Core Values Say About Its Culture?

What Does This Mean for Team Leaders

As a team leader, decide up front on the minimum amount of structure that your team needs, and start there. Carefully watch the team for places where the structure needs to be shored up, but whenever possible, let the team operate on its own, building its sense of ownership and commitment to the project at hand.

Create Culture Of Positive – And Negative – Communication

All too often, employees hear their leaders ask for feedback on a particular idea or concept, but when employees come forward with concerns or potential problems, they are told to stop being so negative. They are unlikely to bring forward ideas in the future.

Even more problematic is when team members express fears or concerns, get shot down, and then those exact problems arise. Egos become involved at that point because it’s impossible to avoid the element of “I told you so.”

A more positive culture for companies is one where team leaders hear the concerns and problems that team members are seeing, and these issues are addressed early. Companies need to remember that, more often than not, team members are on the front lines with customers and products, and often know better than leaders what their customers are going to object to.

Related Article:Turning the Ship Around: A Guide to Changing Workplace Culture

What Does This Mean for Team Leaders

As the team leader, it is crucial that you develop a culture where you thank people for addressing problems and concerns in a positive way. Of course, there are naysayers who do nothing but point out problems, and that should be dealt with, but most team members are bringing forward issues because they know it’s easier to troubleshoot earlier in a process, rather than later. The most successful companies will see these issues as opportunities to do better.

These three cultural changes to companies have the potential to make a big difference to any business, from big, multi-national corporations to small startups. How will you put these concepts to work in your business?

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