Company Culture

Manager’s Toolkit for Building High-Performing Teams

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People managers are the backbone of every organization, supporting their direct reports and organizational goals and optimizing team performance. But who is supporting them? To unlock team performance, managers need the right tools and resources to succeed.

For managers, getting the highest performance out of teams can be a tough code to crack, but we’ve got the key(s). In this blog post, you’ll find: 

  • Actionable tips and strategies to boost your team's performance. 
  • Expert insights and advice on fostering a positive, collaborative, and engaged team culture.
  • Curated resources like articles, webinars, and fun team-building activities.

We have compiled eight resources that are too good to gatekeep. We also added 🔑  key tips to every section that you can implement today to pick the lock on high-performing team cultures.


Before we jump into the resource, let’s connect the dots between managers, feedback, and performance. According to Gallup, “80% of employees who have received meaningful feedback in the past week report being fully engaged. Moreover, employees are 3.6x more likely to be motivated to do outstanding work when their manager shares daily feedback, instead of annual feedback alone. 

Now that you’re convinced of the merit of giving and receiving meaningful feedback, let’s look at the right (and wrong) ways to go about it. 

Resource #1: Performance enablement is the new performance management

According to SHRM, only one in four companies in North America said their performance management processes were effective. 🤨  So, if we know performance reviews are broken, then why do we keep approaching them in the same way? The truth is: it’s complicated. 

Traditional performance management often leaves employees feeling controlled rather than empowered. There is a solution, but it will take work from every company employee, and an organizational paradigm shift from once per year performance assessment to always-on performance empowerment. 

Performance enablement is a people-centric practice that decentralizes feedback and allows employees to take ownership of their growth while empowering managers to inspire top performance. Employees are enabled to learn, make mistakes, and grow in their roles through consistent, real-time feedback. Timely feedback is coupled with meaningful resources, manager-led coaching, and regular goal check-ins: equipping employees to reach their full potential on their terms. 

🔑 Key tip: Consider the 5:1 rule when building a culture of feedback on your team, meaning employees should receive five pieces of positive recognition for every piece of constructive feedback.

Resource #2: Manager's Guide to Giving Effective Feedback

Cultivating a culture of feedback on your team is essential to performance, but the way you give feedback matters. Whether you’re a brand-new manager or an experienced one, everyone can use some tips on how to give feedback to an employee. These tips and strategies will help any manager deliver feedback that employees will truly listen to and act on. There are three key tenants to giving effective feedback that every manager should keep in mind:

  1. Find the ideal frequency of feedback 
  2.  Prepare ahead of time
  3. Have conversations that connect to the person and the bigger picture

🔑  Key tip: Use a framework to make giving feedback more impactful. The Situation-Behavior-Impact framework is a favorite among Bonusly managers. 

Resource #3: How to Receive Employee Feedback

Let’s examine the flip side of the feedback coin: managers can’t perform at their best without feedback from their direct reports. They have to work to create the proper conditions of trust to inspire their direct reports to candidly share feedback. It’s too easy for the door to stay closed for feedback if managers don’t actively invite it from their direct reports. We get it, receiving feedback is vulnerable for everyone, even people managers, so we put together a guide to receiving employee feedback well. 

🔑 Key tip: Ask for feedback…on feedback. Ask your manager how they think you receive feedback right now and ways you could improve. Before opening the door for direct reports to provide you feedback, it’s essential to generate awareness of any blindspots about how you react to feedback. 

Also check out: Cost of Performance Management Calculator

Building Resilience

What is employee burnout costing your organization? More than two in five U.S. workers are burnt out. Corporate burnout is costing the U.S. $1.8 trillion (yes, trillion) in lost productivity alone. It’s not a U.S.-specific problem either: more than one in four workers worldwide is burnt out. The good news is that building resilience on your team can be a powerful antidote to burnout. Teams that solve for burnout can impact productivity, engagement, and retention by proxy. 

Resource #4: How to Address Manager Burnout 

As bad as the burnout situation across all levels is, it’s even worse in one critical group: managers. Managers are more likely than individual contributors to be burned out (and disengaged, looking for a new job, and feeling like their organizations don’t care about their well-being, to boot). A stunning 42% of managers feel burnt out, according to Slack research

Burned-out managers exhibit a lot of the same symptoms as burned-out individual contributors, but they can often hide their distress better (they’re trying to keep spirits up for the team, typically). But there are some telltale warning signs that your managers may be suffering from burnout, or about to get there: 

  1. Irritability
  2. Forgetfulness
  3. Absenteeism
  4. Apathy

Experiencing these symptoms? Our blog post might have the antidote. 

🔑 Key tip: This may sound overly simple, but have you considered a vacation? One vacation won’t cure a bad case of burnout, but it’s a good first step, and it can also boost productivity

Resource #5: Manager's Ultimate Retention Checklist

Employee retention is top-of-mind for most organizations, as it should be! Turnover disrupts the flow of a functioning workforce and can lower team morale. The cost of turnover is also quite expensive, directly impacting your business’s bottom line. 

We have some good news and not-so-good news. Let’s start with the latter: a recent analysis from Gallup uncovered that nearly half of U.S. employees are actively job searching or looking out for opportunities. Here’s the good news: While turnover is a normal occurrence in every organization, there is a lot in your control. 52% of employees leaving on their own accord say their manager could have done something to keep them around for longer. 

Let’s focus on what managers can do now to prevent their employees from leaving too soon. We’ve broken our top tips out into a checklist where each action item is manageable, and yes, you can actually check the boxes. 

🔑 Key tip: Don’t wait until employees are out the door to glean valuable information on what you as their manager or the organization could be doing to retain them. Conduct stay interviews to glean those insights before it’s too late. We even have a handy template you can use. 

Tools to Empower the Team

Before you go, we wanted to leave you with three key tools you can start using today to drive higher levels of engagement and stronger performance on your team. 

Resource #6: One-on-One Meeting Agenda Template

The manager-employee one-on-one meeting is the best place to develop a culture of regular positive and constructive feedback and constant improvement but it is often misused, underutilized, or not used at all. Gallup data shows that consistent 1:1s even help promote employee engagement. 

We’ve put together a 1:1 template to help you get the most out of your weekly time with each of your direct reports. 

🔑 Key tip: Set your 1:1 meeting agenda in advance so everyone knows what to expect and has time to prepare for the meeting. 

Resource #7: Complete Manager's Guide to Employee Recognition

Effective recognition has the power to boost employee engagement, retention, and productivity. When done the right way, it can also cultivate stronger team connections and even reduce symptoms of burnout. This complete guide for managers includes the information, resources, and techniques you need to build a recognition-rich culture on your team.

🔑 Key tip: Want to impact productivity and profitability? Try recognition

  • When recognition hits the mark, employees are five times as likely to be connected to company culture and four times as likely to be engaged.
  • According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees are, on average, 23% more profitable, nearly 20% more productive, and have customers that are 10% more loyal.

Resource #8: A Manager's Guide to Bonusly 

Speaking of recognition, Bonusly can help managers create team cultures of feedback, amplify team accomplishments, and surface opportunities for growth with reliable insights. Read the full blog for ten ideas for managers to get the most out of Bonusly that will lead to a more productive, engaged, and happy team.

🔑 Key tip: Show your team that you see and appreciate their work by blocking 15 minutes at the end of each week to prioritize team recognition. 

The takeaway

Managers play a critical role in an organization's success, responsible for delivering on key objectives while ensuring their team is empowered, effective, and running at a steady pace. That said, 64% of managers report that employees now have additional job responsibilities—is the weight becoming too much to bear? 

Leaders must focus on empowering their managers to do the work that matters most and equipping managers with the right tools and resources to build high-performing teams. We hope these tools will help. Here’s to turning the key on change and starting to implement small changes that result in big team wins.

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