Build Great Culture

Use the ACT Checkup to learn how I went from ignoring culture to using ACT to build high performing teams. It is an exercise that is intended to teach how to build great culture and create high performing, more motivated teams at all levels.

If you have direct reports, you are a leader and manager. Your most important job is to create a productive culture and motivate your team. Most fail.

After taking about 30 minutes to have your team members complete the checkup, you’ll have the context and information you need to prioritize action items that will start delivering the culture you want. With continued practice, you will see noticeable results quickly.

ACT is a pneumonic that is useful in reminding leaders how to motivate and create great cultures. It is an acronym standing for:

  • Accountability: getting things done by Leading and Managing well
  • Coaching: asking for and providing help
  • Transparency: creating trust and 2-way feedback

The checkup has 5 checkpoints that evaluate team behaviors for each ACT area. Accountability has two sub-areas, Lead and Manage. These work together to deliver Accountability. This creates a total of 20 checkpoints of evaluation.

Find out more and get the check-up survey here free or pay what you want.


Start improving your team’s culture and performance by setting up recurring ACT meetings.

These are 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their reports. They should happen about weekly at all levels of the organization.

At these meetings, the three elements of ACT should get focused discussion:

Accountability is agreeing to:

  • A priority outcome (vision, objectives, goals, results, measures);
  • Actions to deliver it (to-dos, rocks, initiatives);
  • Whether actions were completed
  • If you achieved the outcome

Coaching is assessing the current health of a person, team, department, initiative or business.

State both the good and the not good.

For the not good detail:

  • What the issue is and its causes
  • A proposed solution (by the person raising it)
  • The best solution together

Solutions can include providing resources for success like:

• Training
• Tools and Technology
• People
• Focus
• Advice and Guidance
• Support

Transparency is sharing (to a manager, peer, or report) feedback on what they are doing, using the following format:

Like: “These are the specific actions that I like that you are doing.”

Wish that: “These are the specific actions that I wish you would do differently.”

The receiver of the Feedback should:

  • Ensure understanding by rephrasing it
  • Thank and let them know that you will consider how to address it
  • Decide what changes, if any, you will make
  • Get back to giver with decision and reasoning
  • Follow-up later to see if changes help

Once you see some success, you can add ACT elements to any meeting or event:

  • Start with each person noting a team good and a needs improvement idea
  • Set goals, track and share outcomes as a team
  • Make problem solving an agenda item
  • Rate meetings and share improvement ideas

Well functioning teams should periodically rate how well they are implementing the ACT components to look for the areas where they can improve most.

You can find my 20 point checkup here.

Get your team to rate each checkpoint, then problem solve solutions for ones with low average scores.

Start in the areas that need the most attention and can have the largest impact.

  • Take small steps initially
  • Get feedback on how well they work
  • Build on success to keep improving

Find out more and get the check-up survey here.

This article was adapted by practicing and adapting the ideas of A.C.T. as as introduced in: Mochary, Matt; MacCaw, Alex; Talavera, Misha. The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building (p. 133).

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