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3 Critical Ingredients for a High Performance Work Place

Photo by Icons8 team

This article was based on episode 058 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Imagine if every day you walked into your office, physically or metaphorically and felt, “This is a place I belong, where I'm really valued, where I contribute to something bigger than myself.” Perhaps you’re lucky enough to feel that way now. But for too many employees, the reality is they feel the opposite.

For hundreds of years, workers were thought of simply as bodies to complete a task. They were interchangeable for the most part and therefore treated with less respect, trust, and investment than is needed to succeed in today’s world.

Unfortunately, management practices haven’t evolved to meet this shift in the work experience. That’s where Bob Dusin comes in. Bob is the co-author of Creating the High Performance Work Place. He and his co-author Sue Bingham share what they’ve learned from years of collaborating with leaders and organizations in all industries to help create the highest performing and work environments possible.


As Bob and his co-author Sue Bingham articulate in the book, they’ve identified eight aspects or components to a high performance work place.

While some are not surprising, like competitive wages and benefits, others are a bit more out of the ordinary. Here are a few of those less common elements.

Positive Assumptions about People. Too often we design our policies and practices around the exception rather than the norm. But what happens when you assume the best about people - that they want to work hard, be challenged, and do well themselves and want the company to succeed. When you take a position of positive assumptions rather than cynical, it changes how you approach everything from assigning responsibilities to gathering feedback.

Remove the Negative. There are many standard practices they convey a lack of trust to employees. Does your office lock the supply closet? Do you need to fill out paperwork to check out equipment? These practices unfortunately send a message that we don’t trust people to be responsible, or worse, that we trust only a select few. Removing the negatives means finding creative ways to maintain order that also send a message of positive assumptions about people.

Set High Expectations. People will generally meet the expectations you set. Managers in high performance work places set high, but not unrealistic, expectations. When we set average expectations, or focus too much on compliance, we miss the opportunity to inspire our team members and give them ownership. Instead, show that you believe your team members are capable of excellence and then support them to succeed.


When a team member is concerned about their ability to meet an expectation, avoid the common response: “Just do the best you can.”

While I’ve said this my fair share of times at home and in the workplace, Bob explains that in essence, you’re giving the person an excuse to not meet the expectation. When they fall short, they can throw up their hands and say, “well, I did the best I could.”

Instead, help the individual think through what they can do to increase the likelihood of success. Is there something they need to learn? Can you break down the work into more manageable bites?


To create an environment in which people want to come to work because they enjoy it, not just for the paycheck, we as managers need to have authentic relationships with each person.

While conventional wisdom teaches there should be separation between a manager and their direct reports, this artificial barrier actually hinders rather than helps. People want to be known, be seen, be needed.

Get to know your team members as full people. What are their interests outside of work? How is their family? Rotate through taking each of your employees to lunch or having catch up calls during which you check in with them on personal topics, not their work.


When you know people, it’s easier to assume the best of them. You’re then more likely to set high expectations and develop policies based in trust. The more you demonstrate trust, the more people will rise to the occasion.

This positive and reinforcing culture also spreads through the team. The next time you hear someone disagree, see what happens when you assume they want the best outcome for the project? How might you approach the conversation differently? It’s those little shifts that can make all the difference.

Join the Modern Manager community and get 15% off when you register for an upcoming high performance leadership workshop (learn more about the workshop at, plus additional guest offers and materials to support your journey to rockstar manager.

This article was based on episode 058 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.



Twitter: @HPWPBob

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