Seven simple ways to bring the best out of your employees or team
Have you ever wondered how to bring the best out of your employees?
A good employee brings more to the table than just labour – they bring their thoughts, ideas, perceptions, skills, strengths and unique gifts. Therefore, regardless of your organization’s size, bringing the best out of your employees is worth the investment many times over – they are more resourceful, more efficient, more loyal, more productive and more inspiring to others. Just imagine a whole workforce like this!
Find out what employees want
It’s important to know that everyone is different and will have different wants, needs and desires. Therefore, as employer or manager, you must get to get to know your employees – to learn what drives and motivates them – and to try and satisfy their varying needs. For example, you may learn that some require constant reassurance while others focus best when left alone. Knowing this may help shape your management style.
How do you find out what your employees want? Take the time to listen to them. As early on as their orientation and through both day-to-day conversations and formal performance discussions, talk to them about their goals and consider how the role can be shaped to fulfill these.
Offer meaningful rewards
On a similar note, when it comes to rewarding employees, make sure you do so in a personally, meaningful way.
Incentive programs are often linked to performance, but remember that what works for one company (department, team, employee, etc.) might not work for another. When it comes to incentives and rewards, there are likely as many different permutations as there are different companies. That’s because employees are motivated by different things. For one person, money might be the only reward they can conceive. For another, it might be the ability to work from home one day a week, to leave early on a Friday or to be able to study part-time.
Finding out what works for your employees boils back down to developing relationships with your employees – listening to them and understanding what makes them tick.
Employers and managers often assume everyone knows how to communicate (including themselves) but more often than not, this is not the case! For example, if you see an employee carrying out a task not as you expected, ask yourself whether you were clear about your goals and objectives. Were the requirements well defined? How well did you engage your employees in the process? If something isn’t quite right, help them work with you to make things better.
The opposite of good, open communication is a team left in the dark, wondering what’s happening. Were this month’s figures good or bad? Are there any new hires coming onboard soon? Whatever happened to the ideas they put forward? Worse still is a team torn apart by internal gossip and politics, which can destroy the sense of trust that employees have in their employer and ultimately cause the business to flounder. Foster an environment in which there is no need for gossip, by encouraging frequent and ongoing conversations in a safe setting, where employees feel free to air their thoughts and ideas or even their grievances.
Become a good coach
Becoming a good coach is hard work and can take time, but doing so enables you to explore the true potential of an employee – the benefits of which are enormous (see Five habits of a successful team coach).
By clarifying your needs of them and by sharing performance feedback, along with praise, encouragement and active listening, you create an environment in which an employee feels comfortable with how they are doing and confident about what they are doing.
Furthermore, one of your goals as a coach is to build trust and foster a relationship where employees can come to you for support. That doesn’t mean they need you to solve their problems, but they may need your help in finding a solution. To do this, use coaching skills such as listening, collaboration, facilitating and problem solving.
Become a positive role model
As a business leader, you need to demonstrate the kind of behaviour that you would like your employees to emulate.
By consistently demonstrating a high level of knowledge, skills, honesty, ability and reliability, you will build trust among your employees, enabling you to bring the best out of them.
Additionally, if you become the kind of employer they look up to you and are proud of you, they are more likely to believe in your cause and follow you on your journey. The result of this is a team that pulls together in the same direction – the results of which can be astounding.
Create engaged employees
One of the ways in which you can help create engaged employees, is to make your organization stand for something people want to believe in. Everyone likes to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves – that they have a higher purpose. If you can get your employees to feel excited about the larger purpose of your company, you can bring the best out of them. You will also help foster strong teamwork and cooperation across the organization.
Start by creating a corporate culture. A corporate culture is the shared set of values and beliefs embraced by everyone in the company. It’s essentially the glue that holds your organization together, and can be a big reason people want to work for you and with you.
Become very clear about your culture from the moment you hire an employee – even as early as the interview process. For example, when hiring, consider your values and existing team members, and whether or not your potential new employee will fit among them.
To truly cement and foster your culture, as a business leader you must explicitly support and reinforce your values and corporate culture with your actions and behaviour. You must also help create clarity around these values for your teams and encourage employees to adopt these principles.
Finally, to really make your values and culture stick, it’s important to implement HR policies and practices that integrate with both.
But how does this help bring out the best in your employees? If you’re able to combine a well-established corporate culture with integrated HR practices, you’ll have a company that is actively driven towards its goals, and a workforce that is well-informed, motivated and productive.
Tell them why you hired them and show them how they link to the success of the company
Employees who have high rates of job satisfaction tend to work harder and smarter. Find out what their goals are and then create a link between what they do at work to how they can ultimately achieve their goals.
Set the expectation with people before hiring them that you expect them to play an important role in helping the company achieve certain goals through the use of their skill set. Let them know what success would look like and then empower them to help the organization achieve that success by using their talents and their own personal genius. A job should bring out the talents in an employee, otherwise it’s the wrong job for them. It’s a high standard, but the right one to insist upon.
There are many other ways to bring out the best in your employees. These are just a few. What has worked for you?