“Employees are a company’s greatest asset. They’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”
- Anne M. Mulcahy
Anne Mulcahy was onto something when she wrote this and we can't deny that employees are the backbone of every corporation. It doesn't matter how old the company is or how big its area of operation but what matters most is its exceptional employees who are tirelessly working and offering their service. As time passes employees can tend to become disengaged and careless and don't work at their full employee potential. This is because they don’t feel valued and motivated.
The zeal to work is present in everyone, but you cannot force them to work to their full employee potential. This push has to come from within, from the self-conscious. As a business owner, there are ways in which you can give your employees direction. If your employees are determined to do well they will use it as an impetus to outdo and outperform themselves.
Tips to Make Employees Operate at Full Potential
Strategic HR is the call of the day. No longer does HR relate to just the hiring and firing people. Nowadays, it is also involved in talent acquisition, growth, management and performance measurement. The management of manpower is now as important of activity as sales and marketing. How can you give your employees this direction? It has to be subtle and yet powerful enough to drive them. To help you, here are a few tips:
1. Build Strong Teams
A strong team is one where each member contributes to the best of their ability. They not only learn from each other but also help overcome each other’s weaknesses. In the end, what shines through is the strength of the team as a whole. When people work in strong teams they are self-motivated to put their best foot forward.
2. Have an Open-Door Policy
As the owner of a business doesn’t be too set in your ways. Be approachable. If an employee has an idea, he or she should be able to come and discuss it with you without fear of repercussions. An open-door policy propagates frankness and nobody feels stressed or bound to hide facts in less than ideal situations. Keeping channels of communication open at all times is necessary. When employees feel that their thoughts and ideas count they gain ownership over them and are bound to perform the best that they can.
3. Identify Hidden Skills
A person might be exceptionally good at executing tasks. If given the chance you might discover that he or she is, in fact, good at other things such as communication. As a business owner, it is your job to identify the hidden skills of your employees. The way I have found best to do this is by giving them different tasks and identifying those that they do the best. Once your employees have seen the efforts that you put towards developing their hidden skills, your employees will feel compelled to do better and better.
4. Push Out of Their Comfort Zone
Once you know how talented your workforce is, push them out of their comfort zone. The true test of nature lies in how well you perform when under stress. Some will come out on top while others will just make it. Some might break under stress and give up midway. The idea is not to embarrass anyone but to challenge them to overcome their restrictions, ingrained belief systems and put them outside of their comfort zone. The next time when they are presented with a situation like this, even those who didn’t go as well as they had hoped and could not meet the mark first time will push themselves to do better.
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5. Teach Failure Is a Learning Opportunity
The other thing that happens when you push people out of their comfort zone is that they learn something new. Failure is not a lost opportunity but a learning opportunity. The most successful people are the ones who pushed past the times they failed. Success can lead to success but you can be sure that multiple failures will always eventually lead to success, generally with a significant amount more life lessons. Sometimes you learn from your own mistakes and sometimes from those of others.
In any case, there is learning involved. A mistake tells you how to do the same thing flawlessly next time. Sit with employees and have learning sessions. These will help them perform optimally the next time a similar task is given to them. Failure will always eventually lead to success
6. Mentor Programs
Those who perform exceedingly well can become mentors to those who are still floundering. Leadership can be taught, bringing up a team of leaders where they can pass on advice and grow the team is paramount. Under the guidance of a mentor, the employees will be able to develop to their full potential.
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7. Reward Outstanding Performances
Those who do really well should always be recognized and rewarded. The reward does not always have to be in cash. Sometimes, making them feel important is not only enough but praise can speak more strongly. Don’t make it a habit to only praise good performers, you need to find what resonates with your team and how they like to be rewarded. Cash or kind reward can give them further motivation to excel and move ahead.
8. Regular Training
Business environment changes, technology changes and so do rules and regulations. In order to keep up with so many changes, regular training for employees is a must. This will give them complete knowledge and help answer any queries or concerns.
Having refresher courses will help brush up on parts of your software and process stack that are an integral part of your business systems but sometimes might not used regularly. When an employee sees how you are dedicated to building up their resume, they work harder. Training sessions can also show them how they could do a job better than before.
10. Discourage My Way or the Highway Thinking
Don’t force people to your way of thinking. Your employees are individuals who are capable and qualified to do the job well. Don’t make them a “yes boss” bot. You don't know what you don't know until you know it, you know? For what you don’t know, this will sooner or later backfire and the experience of your team will have gone wasted on the wayside.
11. Encourage Out of Box Thinking
Encourage people to think and solve problems. Ask them to be imaginative, all solutions are not plain and simple. Occasionally some of them might be, but for the ones that are not where they are helping they will feel valued. They want to help you solve business problems. When you make them feel valued for helping they will outperform because you dared them to be different.
The Final Word
These little tips go a long way in making your employees work at their full potential. Make use of them to build a happy and satisfied workplace. When the employees are happy you will have no problem retaining them. The rest is just about playing your cards right.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2018. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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