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Creating Pockets of Excellence: How to Shield Your Team from Negativity and Mediocrity

Contributor: Shawn Murphy 

pockets of excellence

Let’s face it, not all work environments—be it in a traditional corporation or in a network marketing organization—are optimal. There are usually pockets of excellence mixed in with mediocre and toxic environments.  A pocket of excellence thrives within an organization despite its surrounding environment. In order for the organization to succeed, the key is to make the pockets of excellence grow.

Creating these pockets of excellence requires leaders to shield their negative or mediocre influences team from the negative or mediocre influences that undermine performance. Leaders need to coach their team members on how to positively handle the negativity when it does breach the pocket.

What is a “Pocket of Excellence”?

A pocket of excellence is an environment that enables high performance. This is an outcome of the team culture and an optimistic climate. Team members thrive and develop as mature, fully functioning adults in these environments. Pockets of excellence are contagious and can spread throughout an organization.

Here are 5 proven keys to create a rich, fertile ground for a pocket of excellence to flourish:

1. Personalize Business. Business has always been built on relationships. The most important relationship—which is often neglected—is the relationship between the team and the leader. Strong relationships are fundamental in a pocket of excellence. Therefore, leaders need to spend time with their team members so they can get to know people personally—and not only the role people fill on the team. Learn each person’s goals, their hobbies, and even their interests outside of business. This helps to deepen a bond.

2. Promote Personal Purpose. More and more research shows the business value of purpose. However, this isn’t about the purpose of the organization, but clarity of purpose for each person within an organization. Purpose-oriented people are 65 percent more likely to experience fulfillment in their work, which is linked to retention—an ability important to counteract attrition. Leaders can promote purpose through ongoing coaching conversations that help individual team members discover what’s important to them.

3. Pull Back the Covers. For a pocket of excellence to become contagious, a leader needs to share the success of the team with the next levels of leadership. Clear, definitive examples of what’s being done to achieve results need to be documented and communicated upwards and with peers.

4. Bolster Belonging. While personalizing the work helps deepen the bond between leaders and team members, it’s also critical to do the same for the team. Human beings are motivated by the need to build and nurture personal relationships. Leaders need to intentionally shape the business context to help team members find a place for themselves within the team.

5. Create Clarity. Finally, for excellence to be possible, the team needs clarity on personal and team goals and priorities. These are essential ingredients for people to make meaningful progress in their business. Without a sense of progress, people become frustrated and disillusioned. To avoid frustrations, intentionally review goals and priorities monthly with each team member.

Mixing personal and business acumen using these 5 keys creates a powerful influence that can positively shape the team culture. This influence helps leaders create the conditions for pockets of excellence to emerge.

shawn murphyShawn Murphy is an independent consultant with 20 years’ experience working with organizations to create workplace optimism. He is the cofounder and CEO of Switch & Shift, an advocacy and consultancy focused on the human side of business, and host of the popular Work That Matters podcast. He is the author of The Optimistic Workplace: Creating an Environment That Energizes Everyone.



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