The team of people you employ are the driving force behind your business. And in the wise words of Richard Branson:
“Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business.”
You want your employees to reach peak performance in their respective roles, but getting them to this level will require serious effort from your end.
Yes, employees need to push themselves. But they also sufficient support from employers to truly reach their full potential. You, the business leader, need to nurture your team and help them gain mastery of skills that matter to the organization.
Here are a few things you can do to help your staff grow into a team of top performers.
A study from the University of Warwick shows that happiness leads to a 12% increase in worker productivity, while those that were unhappy had a 10% decrease, which means that keeping your employees happy and motivated will have a positive effect on the business.
And what’s the first step to creating a happier workplace?
Everyone craves recognition for their hard work, and employees are no different.
Setting a higher standard is another benefit of recognizing employees. In fact, 78% of employees said they would work harder if they felt their efforts were recognised. When you reward and acknowledge an employee, you’re essentially telling them ‘you’re on the right track and I expect this behavior from here onwards.’
So you understand that recognizing and praising employees is important, but do you do it in front of other people or behind closed doors?
The praise you give publicly should be subtle. Unfortunately, you run the risk of creating a bitter feeling amongst those that aren’t receiving recognition, so tread carefully.
Instead of walking up to an employee’s desk and loudly telling them how amazing that strategy they wrote last week was so that everyone else in the office can hear, try bringing it up at an appropriate time.
For example, in a group meeting to generate ideas for a new strategy, try saying:
“We want to create a strategy that utilises our client’s strong social following. The strategy that Karen wrote last week perfectly demonstrates how we can convert our followers to leads with creative, modern tactics.”
You have told Karen that you like her strategy enough to use it as a positive example, and you are giving this example in a meeting with other members of the company.
However, the praise is subtle. You are not blatantly telling everyone how amazing Karen is, but indirectly telling them that she produces good creative work.
Giving an employee praise in private means that you can go into much more detail and tell them why, or what you liked. You could do this over email, or face to face.
Being able to comment on exactly what, or why you liked what they did shows that you have taken note of and recognized their actions.
When you give your praise that personal touch and show that you have taken the time out of your day to let them know how pleased you are, this display of appreciation will stick with your staff.
Private praise is ideal when you want to go into detail with that person and discuss their work further. It also means you won’t have to worry about rubbing other team members up the wrong way.
Remember; giving praise doesn’t cost you a thing, however neglecting to give your team members the credit they deserve can cost you in more ways than one.
We are all aware that holding performance reviews are essential for monitoring progression amongst your team. However, many companies hold them once every six months or annually, and in a formal setting.
While company procedure may dictate that this is how performance reviews should be carried out, this is not nearly regular enough to encourage someone to improve.
You will probably struggle to remember what happened 12 months ago, and so will your employee, so how could you accurately set goals and measure progression?
Alongside formal performance reviews, you should be regularly checking in with each member of your team to see how they are getting on with their goals.
This can be in the form of a casual meeting, catch up over coffee, or a walking meeting. It doesn't need to take up hours of time, but by frequently seeing how your staff are getting on with their goals, you’ll be able to offer support or praise where it is due.
You’ll also discover if they have any new ideas for the business, or if they are developing an interest in a new skill that could be beneficial to improve.
Regularly catching up with your team shows them that you are interested in their progression, encouraging them to keep growing within the company.
As a part of regularly discussing your employee’s goals within the company, you should be talking about ways in which they can either refresh or build on their skills.
Learning is continuous throughout our careers, and no one should become stagnant in educating themselves. Practices are always changing, so keep your team up to date to benefit both them and the business.
If a new piece of technology appears on the scene that could benefit or streamline part of your business, invest in training for your staff, so they understand how to use it. Skipping this could be a massive setback for the firm in the form of time lost while employees struggle to work out the software they’re using.
No one will appreciate being thrown in at the deep end with a new system, and the expectation to learn it within the day.
If some of your team have learnt certain skills to a basic or minimum level, offering them the chance to advance those skills to the next tier will enable them to perform better within their role.
For example, offering your marketing team the option of gaining a Facebook Certification will develop their understanding and use of Facebook and Instagram marketing, potentially increasing your ROI on campaigns.
Advanced learning will usually include an investment from the business. However, the ROI could be substantial, especially in the long run. It is always best to measure ROI before suggesting such training to ensure the money is well spent.
If the usual formats like instructor-led learning are too steep for your budget, know that alternative modes are available. MOOCs and online events, for example, are affordable and effective ways of training your staff.
And don't forget to share fantastic websites with your team. Whether you're looking to boost your team's expertise in the tech, marketing, or sales arena, you're bound to find an awesome site or two to suit your purpose.
During one of your catch up's with an employee, they expressed an interest in learning a new skill for their role. Take note, as this skill could be used to propel their performance levels within the company.
Giving the opportunity to, and supporting the development of new skills within your staff allows them to progress in new ways within their roles, and potentially move up within the company.
As a business leader, you should have a good idea of where your company stands, how well it is doing, and what the goals are. However, you shouldn’t assume your employees also have this knowledge.
In fact, only 40% of the workforce know their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. That’s 60% of your staff who don’t know the direction of the business!
Without direction, how can they be expected to stay motivated and perform to a high level?
Keeping your team in the loop of things to do with the business is important. There are obviously certain aspects that they don’t need updating on, but things like letting them know how the business is doing is incredibly important.
For example, discussing exact profits isn’t appropriate, but letting your staff know that in the last six months you have increased your profits by 20% will let everyone know that the work they are doing is reflected in the business’s success.
Success is a great motivator, meaning your employees will push harder in the knowledge that their efforts are paying off and producing great results.
Let’s face it; most people are at work for their benefit, for money and to fund their lifestyles. You can use this desire to the advantage of the business and motivate employees to work harder.
If you provide incentives for your staff to reach for, they will strive to become top performers.
For example, discussing with a staff member that if they reach a certain goal, they will be at a level where you can consider a higher role for them within the company. This will give them a good reason to push for that goal.
You should, however, be careful with this method.
Don’t dangle benefits in front of people that you’re not willing to act on, or can’t realistically provide. If you hint at a promotion that never materialises, even after a particular goal has been hit, you’ll risk losing your employee altogether.
Likewise, if you set certain parameters for these benefits, stick to them. Don’t keep changing the conditions as this will end up with the opposite effect and demotivate your staff.
The point is to give them something sizeable to work towards that will benefit them, but will also result in a performance increase on their part, in turn benefiting the business.