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What’s A High 5 Culture?

What’s a High 5 Culture?

At its core, culture is the way that people feel about coming to work every day. It’s how we think about the work, the people and the environment. The behaviors and norms that follow are a result of those thoughts and feelings.

Imagine an environment where your energy and passion for your job are sucked dry the moment you walk in the office door.  Your co-workers barely acknowledge you as you come in and you hear them whispering when you walk by. You haven’t seen your manager in weeks. The person who sits across from you is out “sick” again for the 3rd time this month. The project that your team is supposed to be collaborating on has stalled for months because you can’t agree on a direction and the information needed is hard to come by. Your ideas have been publicly shot down and ridiculed so often that you now keep your mouth shut. You are so distracted by the office politics and gossip that it’s hard to get work done. You are annoyed and exhausted before you even get to your desk. As soon as you login you look at the clock and long for lunch time. 5:00 seems like an eternity away.

Now imagine an environment where you are excited to come to work. You are passionate about your job and energized by the contributions that you make. You are greeted with “good mornings” as you make your way to your desk. Not only is your manager available, he is supportive and interested in you and your success. You and your teammates work closely together on a day to day basis to accomplish your goals and overcome challenges. During your regular meetings, different ideas and perspectives are encouraged and the team vets each one to find the best solutions. You frequently work “in the zone,” hyper focused on the task at hand and free of distractions. You and your teammates understand exactly how your work impacts the department and the company. The day flies by and you feel satisfied with the work you’ve accomplished. You and your co-worker high 5 on the way out the door, celebrating another productive day. You look forward to coming back tomorrow.

This is a High 5 Culture℠.

A High 5 Culture℠ is one in which employees are excited to come to work, they love their jobs and perform at their best.

And while this environment may seem magical or accidental, it’s not. It’s a result of three intentional, well-crafted and strategically aligned initiatives: hiring, team alignment and leadership development.  Culture is created and reinforced at every level of the organization.  The responsibility of creating and nurturing a great company “vibe” belongs to everyone within those company walls.

Here are the key ingredients for creating and sustaining a High 5 Culture℠:



The importance of hiring the “right” people cannot be overstated. But what makes a person “right?” Of course it’s necessary to hire someone who can execute the necessary tasks of the job, but that’s only part of the big picture. Hiring for cultural fit is just as important. Zappos famously has 10 values that they live (and hire by.) If a candidate does not share the same values, they are not hired.


Team Alignment:

The next step in cultural development and sustainability is team alignment. It’s not enough to hire a rock star. That rock star must be integrated into the team by the existing team members and the manager. This includes the obvious things like comprehensive onboarding and training. It’s also up to the team and the manager to provide guidance and modeling on cultural norms including values and their supporting behaviors.


Leadership Development:

It is the responsibility of leaders to model the behaviors that they want to see reflected by others in the organization. This includes behaviors that support the culture of the organization.  Recently an executive proudly told me, “Our company is one in which all voices are heard and appreciated.” However, when I observed a Manager’s Meeting, I quickly learned that this was simply a statement from a plaque (I saw the plaque in a conference room) and not the reality. During the meeting I observed a culture in which the loudest voice “won” while everyone else’s input was disregarded.


What is the culture of your workplace? Does the desired culture align with reality? Are you doing your part to support the behaviors and norms of the culture?

Would you like to learn more about creating and sustaining a High 5 Culture? Contact the experts on Pathfinder Strategies at or by phone at (888) 529-0240.

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