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by Michael Murphy / February 4, 2020

Skilled, empowered, and hard-working employees are the most important resource for any progressive company. Exceptional employees are valuable on an individual level, but when they can create synergy as a high performing team, then the organization reaps the greatest possible benefits.

Granted, highly effective teams are a rarity throughout many industries. Nevertheless, if your company implements the following 5 secrets to creating a culture of dynamic collaboration, honest and positive feedback, and employee empowerment, then your teams will also yield exceptional performances, promote business growth, and drive your bottom line.

1. Manage Expectations

It is important for employees to feel that they have room to grow within their current position. It’s also vital that they have enough freedom to effectively perform their duties. Setting clear and reasonable expectations is an important way managers can promote employee engagement, and encourage team members to give above average effort.

Realistic expectations should include the following aspects:

  • A clear description of what the required task entails, and the expected results
  • A delineation between decisions that require manager approval, and those that fall within the employee’s prerogative
  • In some situations, a discussion of the tools and strategies that are at the employee’s disposal in the performance of his/her duties
  • The expression of solid parameters for hard deadlines, and suggested workflows for “soft” deadlines

In general, more should be expected of managers, and less of employees; not because of their respective levels of aptitude, but rather due to the variance in authority and responsibility. When employers demonstrate that they hold managers and supervisors to higher standards than low-level employees, instead of vice-versa, then the employees will feel more secure, and more motivated to meet (and even exceed) pre-defined expectations.

In short, proper expectation management allows you to lay the ground rules for your employees’ job performance without stifling their creative or organizational skills.

2. Give Trust, Not Micro-Management

It’s a basic tenet of human nature that no one enjoys being micro-managed. When a manager tries to analyze and audit every last detail of an employee’s job performance, not only does he personally lose productivity, but he also sends a clear message to the worker: “I don't trust you to do your job.”

In contrast, successful managers have enough confidence in their employees to let them work under minimal supervision — if any at all. Experienced supervisors realize the employees will occasionally fail; however, they understand that this is part of the learning process, and insights gained from error can actually benefit both the employee and the organization in the long run.

Employees thrive under trusting managers. When supervisors give their employees permission to try and even fail, the employees often respond with exceptional productivity and enhanced attention to detail. If you want your employees to be highly effective, let them manage themselves. More than that, show them that you trust them to manage themselves, and are there to offer assistance at any time.

3. Focus on Optimizing Employee Strengths

All too often, managers spend the bulk of their time trying to train weaknesses out of their employees, rather than attempting to maximize their strengths. While this mindset may be beneficial to a certain extent, many company executives have found that this approach has several key issues. For instance:

  • The “weakness reduction mindset” focuses on negative aspects of job performance. Constant feedback around opportunities for improvement could cause an employee to become disengaged, even frustrated.
  • Nobody’s perfect. Moreover, after a certain point we are who we are. Thus, trying to eliminate employee weaknesses can quickly become a never-ending quest that yields diminishing returns.
  • A focus on employee weaknesses misses the opportunity to optimize employee strengths — a methodology that is often more productive, and has a higher ROI.

On the other hand, managers that focus on optimizing employee strengths find that such an approach empowers their team members to deliver more consistent high quality work. Employees don’t feel that they need to fit into a rigid mold, but find motivation by leveraging their unique talents to the company’s advantage.

4. Commend, Commend, Commend

Commendation is of the utmost importance in the workplace. This is borne out by the fact that lack of appreciation, according to research, is the number one reason why employees leave their job. In fact, one Gallup survey found that 65% of workers felt that they had not received any recognition for the work they had performed throughout the previous year.

The antidote to such lack of appreciation is commendation; especially commendation that is consistent, and specific. Whether it’s through one-on-one interactions, recognition and rewards programs, or other appropriate channels, managers that express appreciation for their employees are able to coax the very best out of their team members.

5. Keep People First

This last secret serves as a general principle that forward-thinking companies should live by. When employers treat their employees well, the employees reward them with loyalty, consistency, and effectiveness. As Julie Dodd, Chief Services Officer for Ultimate Software, once remarked:

“Employees everywhere know that when they feel part of a family at work, they bring more pride to their job and dedication to their company ... We believe that great leaders and cultures directly impact the service those businesses can provide, and when a business believes in its people, its extended family includes its customers.”

Of course, the above-mentioned secrets to highly effective teams are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a motivated, collaborative, and productive workforce. If you’d like to explore other ways to keep your employees engaged and happy at work, then listen to the recording of our webinar: Keeping Employees Engaged in the New Workforce.”


Platinum Group is a full service human capital management (HCM) resource that allows business to manage their payroll, benefits compliance, as well as track time and attendance and other various human resources functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and eliminates redundancies with the platform, iSolved. For more information about Platinum Group or to schedule a demo of iSolved, please visit our website.

Tags: Employee Leadership Employee Management Employee Performance

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.