This is the fourth in a series of blogs on Doing Business in a Downturn.  If you missed the previous blogs you can find them here – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Now that you have created an environment conducive to doing business, let’s take it a step further and consider how meeting our customers’ human needs builds even better relationships and creates a stickiness that is highly valued in a tight market.

If these 6 human needs are met at a high level in an environment, people are more likely to stay in that environment than they are to leave.  People display a sense of loyalty and support for those who create and make available environments designed to meet their human needs.

1.     Certainty

There needs to be certainty around the buyer’s experience.  The customer want to know that the product or service will be delivered; that you will do what you say you will do when you say you will do it; that the shopping experience is on brand and consistent.  There is no confusion.

2.     Variety

There is a desire for certainty and on the other hand, a need for uncertainty or variety to keep the relationship interesting.  Otherwise boredom sets in and there is a sense of same old same old.  You need to switch it up, add something different from time to time, and create surprises and excitement.

3.     Significance

Your customer wants to feel like they matter, that they are not just a number or merely a source of revenue.  They want to be treated like a VIP.  They want to be thanked and invited back.

4.     Connection

What can you do to enable your customers to feel like they belong to your business community?  How do you nurture your customers post sale?  How do you keep the connection between your customers vibrant and close?  How often will you make contact and how?

5.     Growth

What role do you play in educating your customers in areas related to your core business?  Do you hold workshops?  Do you have a newsletter, an e-book or podcasts?

6.     Contribution

How can you facilitate your customer’s ability to make a contribution beyond themselves?  How can they share in your passion?  How can they add value to the community because they do business with you?

At Opening Gates, we help our clients design business communities and cultures around these 6 human needs through our Culture Collaborative workshops.  Some of the most successful businesses embrace this concept.

In a bullish market when buyer demand and confidence is high there is a tendency to relax the focus on meeting the human needs of your customers and perhaps the impact is less visible.  However, when the market turns and demand and confidence begins to falter you must revisit and refocus on this crucial human element.

Focusing on energy and human needs, constantly and consistently, will give you a competitive edge, especially in a challenging economic environment.  Do not make the mistake of dismissing these concepts as fluffy or without substance.  If you do so it will be at your detriment.

This work may not require a significant cash investment.  It does, however, require a continual awareness of how you and your team are being and a commitment to stay on track – to bring high energy and to do what it takes to meet your customers’ needs.  This is the time to smile and engage in an authentic caring way.

Ask yourself these questions to assess how well you are meeting your customers’ human needs.

  1. Certainty – How can you be sure that you do what you say you will do when you say you will do it?
  2. Variety – How will you mix it up and bring something new to the table.  Any surprises?
  3. Significance – How will you demonstrate that your customers are important and that their well-being matters?
  4. Connection – How will you nurture your customer and invite them into your vibrant business tribe?
  5. Growth – What will you do to enable your customer to expand their knowledge, to grow physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
  6. Contribution – What does making a contribution beyond yourself look like for your customers and their experience with you?



This is the third in a series of blogs on Growing Great Teams.  If you missed the previous blogs you can find them here – Part 1 and Part 2


What is the key to having a high performing team?

The answer to this question lies in the distinction between a high performing team or a team of high performers.

The distinction is set in the culture and the leadership of the organisation, and how it promotes a sense of team, while at the same time valuing the individual.



Promoting a sense of TEAM:

It is the WHY, the VISION, the VALUES and the NEEDS that create the culture that attracts the individuals who come together with a common understanding that they are building something that matters – something bigger than themselves.  There is a keen sense of value transfer.

A shared belief in the WHY, in the VISION and the VALUES of the organisation adds to both the cohesiveness of the team and the power of collective focus.  The importance of this intangible as a precursor to a high performing team is very clearly evident when it is lacking.  A team fractured by a lack of cohesiveness and focus is not conducive to a “healthy” sustainable business model.

Valuing the INDIVIDUAL:

It is the recognition of the NEEDS of the people that demonstrates the value placed on the individual by the organisation.  On one level, meeting human needs in a business community is a powerful way of keeping the team together for longer and on another level it is a very individualistic process.  What can be incorporated in the business to meet the 6 human needs – to provide certainty, variety, connection, significance, growth and contribution?

Consider this:

Different needs drive different people at different times in their lives and this is why this concept is about the individual initially.  Make sure that each of these needs can be met at a high level in some way in the organisation.

Although this is an outcome of building a business culture around the 6 human needs and in particular, meeting the need for growth, it still needs to be said – part of valuing the individual is being prepared to invest in that person’s growth and development.




Creating an environment conducive to high performance is one part of the puzzle – the other is the commitment of the leaders to promoting and maintaining that environment.

In short, publishing the organisation’s intangibles and making assertions about what you do, means nothing if the team’s experience is something completely different to what they signed up for.  It is the role of the leader to walk the talk, to live the culture and to demonstrate through consistent actions and language that being on culture will enable a win-win-win for organisation, team and individual.

Of course, there lies an assumption that the culture has been designed to drive behaviours that promote the purpose of the business in the most powerful and profitable way and to attract people who will excel in this environment.

Culture works as a promoter of high performance teams when there is an understanding that it is a whole of organisation story – there can be no silos propagating their own version of the culture – led by people with personal agendas.  Culture is for the organisation as much as it is for the team.  It has been designed to create an environment conducive to the success of the business and to attract people who want to be a part of it because it serves them.  A team made up of people who are attracted to the same organisation and who have common beliefs will always outperform a fractured group of people with different agendas and contrary beliefs.

If you need help creating an environment that will attract and retain great people, we can help you – our CULTURE COLLABORATIVE workshops are designed to do just that.  We help you design cultures which meet the six human needs – cultures which breed behaviours that enable business success.



This is the second in a series of blogs on Growing Great Teams.  If you missed the first one you can find it here.


Design a culture that attracts and nurtures the right people.

There are 6 key steps to building and retaining a great team.


1.     THE WHY. 

It starts with the WHY – in the words of Simon Sinek – “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

This means knowing and being able to articulate the purpose beyond the purpose of the business – why does it exist and what does it enable?

For example, a work place health and safety business exists to save lives – they believe that everyone should know how to save a life should they ever be in the position to need to do so.  They are passionate about educating people in first aid to enable them to save lives.  They don’t make sales – they save lives – very powerful.

People who believe this will be attracted to this organisation.


2.     THE VISION. 

What will the business look like in the future – say in 6 to 9 years’ time and in terms of sales, profit, value, products, people, customers, locations, the owners’ role?  Having real clarity around the vision for the business means that it can be shared with the team in a passionate and articulate way.

In the context of the example of the work place health and safety business, not only does the team believe in the WHY, but they are excited about the future of the business and want to be part of enabling even more lives to be saved.


3.     THE VALUES. 

Given the WHY and your Vision – what are the non-negotiable values that will drive the desired behaviour in the organisation?  The value as a single word should be accompanied with “and what that means is” and further extended with “and this is how it plays out in our organisation.”  This helps reinforce the meaning of the value as it applies to this particular culture, to this team, and their interaction with others.

People whose personal values align with the corporate values will feel comfortable and connected in this environment which is conducive to their growth and development.


4.     THE NEEDS. 

How will the business environment meet the human needs of the team?  How will it provide certainty, variety, a sense of connection, significance and growth, and how will it enable the team to make a contribution beyond themselves?

When human needs are met at a high level people are more likely to stay than to leave – they are more likely to excel than to stagnate.

The WHY, Vision, Values and the Needs come together to create the culture of the organisation – it is this environment of intangibles – the energy of the place – that feels right to the right people.


5.     THE SKILLS. 

What skill sets are needed now and into the future?  What skills will be bought and which will be taught?  This proactive (as opposed to ad hoc) process of recruitment requires that there is a business plan to support the VISION, a growth plan to enable the business plan and a people plan to support the planned growth.  A people plan developed 3 to 6 years ahead will highlight the skill sets needed to do the jobs now, and/or with training and development, the jobs of the future.

This approach means that the recruitment process attracts people who believe in the WHY, whose VALUES are aligned, who will fit the culture and who have the skill sets that will suit an organisation growing into its VISION.



There must then be an ongoing process of walking the talk.  If people are attracted to the organisation because of the WHY, VALUES, NEEDS, and culture, then any dilution of these or any loss of clarity around the vision and the opportunities it brings, either real or perceived, will be the precursor for potential attrition.  There can be no confusion – a confused team will not commit, they will limit the amount of skin they put in the game.  What is published and asserted must be validated by what is actually done.

Culture is caught not taught.  The culture that is loudest will prevail.  This means that there must be a continual and consistent promotion of the chosen culture and KPI’s that reward those who embrace it.  Behaviours that are off-culture must be addressed immediately and without exception.

The culture of an organisation that encompasses the WHY, VISION, VALUES and NEEDS must always be front of mind.  Install a culture champion(s) – someone whose charter it is to ensure that culture gets the focus it deserves, who has the ability to identify behaviour that is on and off culture and who is mindful of the changing needs of people in an ever-changing fast paced business environment.

If you need help creating an environment that will attract and retain great people, we can help you – our CULTURE COLLABORATIVE workshops are designed to do just that.


Part 3 of this blog series considers the distinction between a high performing team and a team of high performers – how do you promote a sense of team while at the same time valuing the individual.  Click Here to read Part 3 of this series.

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