Redefine Your Relationship with Your Employees: Third Rule to Building a High Performance Culture

Brandon Weber
Brandon Weber
Advisor, VTS

Just as I outlined in my previous post, we look at all our customers as partners, we also think the relationship with employees needs to move towards partnership. At Hightower, we really try to foster a strong team environment. We don’t call ourselves a family. We call ourselves a team. Being on an awesome team is the best thing ever. Everyone is the best at their job. We’re all rowing in the same direction and feel this incredible sense of ownership over what we do. That’s what I love about teams. It creates accountability. No one on a team wants to let down someone else on the team. Team mentality creates a positive, virtuous cycle.

As a quick recap, here’s where we are in my four post mini-series on building high performance teams:

Turning employees into partners – Transparency builds trust

I recently delivered a state of the union to the company. The subject matter of the address wasn’t great: I talked about how the markets are crashing and how half of the value of the SaaS market was wiped out in three days. However, instead of being demotivating, it had the opposite effect. It was motivating to them. I received many comments about how that level of transparency made the team feel like they were part of the inner circle. Now the finance team and everyone else became involved in solving the problem. You want everyone in the room, regardless if they make $50K or $150K, to feel a sense of ownership. You want them to shoulder the responsibility, to push each other to do better.

Turning employees into partners – Building accountability into the culture

As I’ll cover deeper in my last post of my mini-series, ownership is baked into our core values. But rather than pay lip service to this, we make sure we live our values and that there are positive and negative consequences for living or not living our values. That’s the core nature of accountability. There are consequences for your actions and as an individual or team, you accept responsibility for those consequences.

There are other ways to reinforce this. We love the concept of Demo Day, which we borrowed from our friends at SoapBox (who make idea software), where everyone gets together every two weeks to update each other on what they shipped in the last two weeks. Each of us act like mini CEOs of the product so that accountability is shared among everyone.

Turning employees into partners – Stellar people deserve stellar colleagues

I’m a big believer of “stellar people deserve stellar colleagues”. As CEO, that’s my biggest accountability back to my employees. If the quality of your people starts to erode over time, your company will fail or be beaten out by someone else. It’s hard to hold a team accountable to your values and goals when you allow people to stay at the organization which aren’t a fit. When they’re not a fit, you must move quickly and respectfully to let them go.

Our values are also deeply embedded in our hiring process. I read Netflix’s culture book at least once a quarter, as I find it incredibly inspirational: you must hire, fire and promote based on your values, and your beliefs need to have teeth.


Which set’s up my final post on leading with values. Why it’s so important and how we live our values every day. Keep an eye out for it next week.

Brandon Weber
Advisor | VTS
Brandon Weber
Brandon Weber transitioned from co-founder and CPO at VTS to an advisory role.
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