Leadership (Part Fifteen)

Last week was the first part of what these great leaders do to recognize and unlock the true potential of their staff. This is the second part.

Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful- A survey showed that doing something meaningful is more important than money or recognition to your employees. Twenty nine per cent of respondents said that doing something meaningful was the most motivating thing about work. Money motivated 25 per cent, and recognition 17 per cent. Establishing your company’s vision and goals, particularly involving your employees in creating them, will motivate them to achieve these objectives and help them feel that they are doing something meaningful.

Give and receive ongoing performance feedback- When things do go wrong, don’t blame. You want to replace who questions with how questions. For example, rather than saying, “Who screwed this up?” say, “How could we improve this process or avoid this in the future?”

Provide recognition to worthy employees- Recognition is an amazing motivator. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton authored a book called The Carrot Principle in which they discuss a study of more than 200,000 employees that they conducted over a 10-year period. The study showed that the most successful leaders provided their employees with frequent and effective recognition. In fact, they found that leaders realized significantly better business results when they offered employees recognition in the form of constructive praise rather than monetary rewards.

Provide fair compensation and pay for the performance you seek- First, you must pay a wage that employees believe is fair compensation. Second, you must pay for performance whenever possible. This does not mean 100 percent contingent compensation. It means that you set expectations for base pay while also providing bonuses and clearly defining success. This will compel employees to strive to achieve the goals you have outlined.

Foster innovation- Leaders must realize that the vast majority of innovations come from frontline employees. They come from the people who are manufacturing your products or designing your services, who are interfacing with customers, and who are solving problems on a daily basis. As such, innovation must be encouraged.

Encourage teamwork- Most projects you complete will require input from several employees within your organization. Encourage these employees to work as a team rather than a collection of individuals to complete these projects. The easiest way to do this is to set up an initial meeting for the team, refer to them as a team, and give them enough autonomy so they act like a team.

Modify your management approach for different types Of employees- Great leaders let the employees they’re managing dictate the management approaches they use. Some employees may need or desire more handholding and coaching, whereas others will want or require less. It’s important to think about each key employee and determine the best way to lead him or her. (Leadership Style)

Give employees opportunities for personal growth- Because people who get the chance to grow their skills and expertise take more pride in their jobs, you want to encourage employees in your organization to gain new skills. You can do this in many ways, such as providing on-the-job training and other opportunities to teach your employees new skills.

Fire people when needed- The final technique for motivating your team is to fire people when needed. Underperformers can kill an organization; they can become cancers. When other employees see these individuals getting away with underperformance, then they start to underperform. Therefore, firing, as long as you explain to your team why people were fired can actually motivate your employees.

Angela Ahrendts said- “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first”

The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.


E-mail: john@gmskigali.com

This article is part of  a series on leadership by the author and will run exclusively on Business Times for the coming weeks

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