Three Ways to Empower Employees to do Their Best Work

Your alarm clock rings as another start of the workweek begins. Coffee in hand you make the treacherous commute to your office laptop.  You sigh as you settle down for your daily morning meeting as you realize today won’t be any different.

You know what awaits you … team members duplicating tasks, miscommunication between the IT team and the marketing team, meetings filled with the sound of snoring as employees remain unengaged, and the weekly complaints from Karen about Bob and from Bob about Karen.

Sound relatable? Well, that’s because your team is lacking a key variable in high performance culture: empowerment.


To help you take your team’s culture from mediocre to outstanding, I’ve broken down what empowerment is and how you can create one within your startup team.

Keep reading to punch your team’s ticket to success.👇

What is High Performance Culture?

First, let’s answer the question, “What is company culture?

Company culture is understood to be a collection of self-sustaining patterns of behaviour that energize employees and generate positive effects on business performance.

In other words, company culture can be thought of as a set of behaviours that controls how things are done within a company.

So, what does this definition look like at the next level?

At a high performing level, company culture acts as a competitive advantage.

Culture, in the terms of high performance, relates to a set of behavioural patterns and norms that lead an organization to achieve superior results.

Such superior results are defined in terms of both financial and non-financial (i.e. employee/customer satisfaction, employee retention, better talent recruitment, etc.) outcomes that are above the level of competing companies over a long period of time.

So, when you want to create a high performance team you must first create a high performance culture.

The high performance of any culture begins with the empowerment of a company’s employees.

Three Steps to Create a High Performance Culture

Now that you understand what a high performance culture is, there’s no doubt you want to create one.

That brings us to the next big question, how do you create high performance culture?

Well, I’ve decided to keep things simple for you and have broken down the process of the creation of a high performance culture into three easy to follow steps:

  1. Structure
  2. Role Clarity
  3. Decision-Making

1. Structure

When I refer to structure, I refer to how tasks are assigned, the coordination of a team, and the supervision/direction of a team to help the organization achieve its objective outcomes.  

That means that structure commands that every team member must firmly understand the role they play on the team and how their role contributes to the ultimate goals of the startup.

The structure of a company determines how it operates and performs so it’s essential that a company’s structure is efficient, adaptable, and innovative so it may create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Most companies rely on the vertical and horizontal connection of their company to create an organizational structure. Within these types of connections, there are four structures that can be formed, simple, functional, multidivisional, and matrix. 

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on a simple structure, as that is most pertinent to startup companies. 

The majority of organizations begin with simple structure. SImple structures don’t rely on formal systems and divisions of labour. 

Rather than depending on a hierarchy system, simple structures are flat which removes feelings of inferiority and instead employees feel connected to one another. 

By creating a flat structure within a startup company you clarify the roles that each individual plays and how that role directly impacts the success of the organization. This helps employees to feel empowered as they can directly see the impact of their actions

2. Role Clarity

Beyond what role they play within the organization, team members must have a thorough understanding of what their role entails.

When team members have a sense of role clarity, they understand what tasks they must complete and to what end so that they may help the organization achieve its objectives.

Role clarity also gives team members a sense of confidence and trust in themselves and each other.

Each team member understands what they need to do and how to get it down and this also means that team members can rely on each other to complete organizational objectives in a collaborative manner.

To help your employees have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities it is best to adopt a RACI Matrix

A RACI Matrix model empowers teams to own decisions and tasks that empower them to go beyond the regular day to day task-oriented work structures. 

3. Decision Making  

Now that you have established structure and role clarity, you have the foundation that allows for effective decision making. 

The ideal decision-making format every startup strives for is a consensus decision-making style. 

This type of decision-making style best aligns with the flat organization structure because employees must work together with their managers to come up with a course of action that everyone agrees on. 

One of the main jobs of a manager is to facilitate decisions. A place where the top manager makes all decisions leads to just the opposite because people will spend their time trying to convince the manager that their idea is the best.

In that scenario, it’s not about the best idea carrying the day, it’s about who does the best job of lobbying the top dog; in other words, politics.

To implement the idea consensus decision-making style we use two techniques:

  1. First Principle decision making.
  2. The Rules of Two to make decisions.

To lead using first principle decision making you first define the situation through unchangeable facts based on the foundation of the company or product and these principles go on to guides the decisions made by the team.

The Rule of Two decision making process looks a little like this: get the two people most closely involved in a decision to gather more information and work together on the best solution. Usually, they come back a week or two later having decided together on the best course of action.

This empowered decision making then comes from the confidence and understanding that each employee has of their own role and their position within the team.

To create this type of decision making style on your team your managers must encourage employees to engage with each other and ideas through a culture of feedback

One of the main jobs of a manager is to facilitate decisions.

To Sum It Up

From the Six Level of Unicorn Teams, we clearly understand that there are multiple steps to creating a high performing team.

Once Psychological Safety is established, team members understand they can trust each other, but this trust alone is not enough. Team members must ACT on this trust.

When team members act on the trust they have one each other they empower one another, as just discussed in the article above.

Employee empowerment is essential to the formation of a high performance startup culture.

When team members have a clear understanding of how the team is set up and the role they play within that team, they feel empowered to make decisions in their role for the team.

This multiple level decision making is beneficial to the company as it eliminates the need for middle management and leaves room for better financial distribution.

When your team is empowered, your team isn’t afraid to speak up. This creates a culture of feedback that allows for better discussion, idea generation, and startup innovation.

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