by Mary Juetten, Contributor,
Part of building your business is creating the value that both customers and partners are looking for, and potential acquirers as well. Much of that is tied up in the intellectual property the company is built upon, the products you create, and the customers that you cultivate. But in your role as a manager and leader, there’s also a pressing need to build and develop a team to meet the demands and challenges of the present, while also being part of the engine that drives the company into the future.
People, provided that they’re the right people, are among the most valuable assets your company has. Clearly, they’re not like other assets, and to call them that can seem a bit demeaning; a brilliant employee doesn’t belong in the same category as office furniture or equipment. But they are contributing to the mission and your overall success, and like some of those other things, it’s worth investing in them to get their best version working for you.
What can you do to develop your employees to the utmost of their potential? There are a number of different things you can do to bring out the best in your team members, depending on personalities and temperament; the key is understanding their drives and motivations, and knowing what will reach them and inspire them to push themselves further.
Placing greater responsibility on someone’s shoulders might seem like a burden for some, but for others it serves as a reward and motivation. It’s a show of faith on your part in their abilities, and a demonstration of your belief that they’re capable of handling more. And that belief can go a long way towards pushing those people to develop their skills and push for promotion and leadership roles down the line. For many, there’s little that goes farther in boosting our pride and our self-esteem than having someone else say that they believe in us, and we often want to repay that faith and prove it well-placed.
Kind words and claps on the back can only go so far, however. Ultimately increases in work and responsibility have to be met in kind with financial remunerations to let your people know that you truly value them; short of that, it can eventually seem that your motivation tactic is simply a way to wring more work out of them without having to offer raises, even if that isn’t your intent. Similarly, promotions (and the attendant pay raises) are something that should be available for your team members to earn, lest they think there’s no room to advance from their current position. As much as you might have done to cultivate a strong relationship and a solid culture around your company, money talks, as does career advancement. Even if you’re at a stage where you can’t offer a lot at the present, just letting them know that you recognize they deserve a pay bump when money allows will be well received.
Separate and apart from pay, perks and benefits can go a long way towards getting the best from your team. There is the obvious benefit to benefits in that they offer employees peace of mind in dealing with potential issues like medical expenses, and all of the other quotidian concerns of adult life. But fun perks can be just as important in optimizing the performance of your team. Things like fun team outings or, say, a ping-pong table in the breakroom show that you see the importance of relaxation and balance in the work experience, and that you value them and their well-being as a person, rather than just a worker. Beyond the fact that burnout and unnecessary stress does no one any good, a happier workplace makes for better workers, and better work.
It’s trite to say that the people you hire are important, particularly if you assume that your team will do the jobs required of them so that you can focus elsewhere. And the good ones will do just that. But in simply plugging people into roles and failing to push or motivate them otherwise, you’re failing to get the most out of them and what they could be. Not only will that not help you in the long run, it’ll lead to unhappiness and discontent that drives your best and most-talented people elsewhere in a search for a job that provides the opportunity they don’t have with your company. In cultivating a good team, room to grow, and the means to help them grow, is as important as anything. #onwards.