22nd April, 2016
When it comes to hiring talent, there are two basic strategies that work. The first is to hire the very best talent on the market; the second is to hire decent talent and bring out the best in them. Since most companies can’t afford the cost of recruiting and retaining the top tier of talent, most have to pick strategy number two.
Here are ten of the most effective ways to bring out the best in your team:
1. Believe in them: The thoughts in your brain are much more powerful than you imagine. If you believe in an employee’s potential, it will impact your body language, speech, eye contact, and decisions. But if you harbor doubts about whether they will make it, you virtually ensure their failure. If you manage a team, you better believe in each member.
2. Demonstrate belief by listening: There is no better way to empower another person than to listen carefully and fully to their words. By taking the time to set aside your own thoughts and agenda, you tell that person, “You are very important to me.”
One other reason why listening works so well: very few people do it anymore.
3. Share both your weaknesses and strengths: When a leader is honest about his or her capabilities – both good and bad – it encourages team members to adopt the same attitude. The biggest strength is knowing your own weaknesses, because it allows you to partner effectively with people whose expertise is a good complement to your own.
4. Understand your own biases: We all like to think we are objective and open-minded, but that is sheer nonsense. Each of us has certain attitudes and biases that prevent us from seeing the truth. The better we understand them, the better we can make adjustments. For example, if you tend to be a planner, you might think that an employee behaves rashly because she invests little time in planning; but the reality may be that she is better than you at thinking or her feet.
5. Be simple and clear: The biggest reason why employees don’t follow their leader is because they don’t understand what the leader wants. I have seen hundreds of teams that were literally baffled by their leaders, whose direction was too contradictory, complex or confusing.
Slow down, simplify your direction as much as possible, and repeat it again and again.
6. Inspire, don’t intimidate: Very few people work well under extreme pressure. If your team is in a “do it or else” situation, the odds are that you have already failed as a manager. It is far wiser to inspire with positive messages than to whip teams into action with threats. Keep this rule of thumb in mind… the more you rely on intimidation, the more likely you are to fail.
7. Invest a lot in training: At many companies, training is a joke. It either doesn’t happen, or it is lame beyond belief. You can avoid this trap by rewarding people for finding the training that matters most to them. Pay for them to take college, executive education and/or online courses. Consider increasing their compensation in recognition of the training programs they complete. As they pick up important new skills, promote them and offer them expanded responsibilities.
Beware this trap: don’t limit training to skills that are directly related to their current position. Pay for any sort of training they wish to take.
8. Praise effort, not ability: If you haven’t already, read Carol Dweck’s fantastic book, Mindset. Foster a growth mindset in your team members, and help them discover that with enough effort, they can accomplish amazing things.
9. Spread credit fairly: When you take all the credit, you eliminate a prime motivational technique. Giving credit to others is a wonderful way to inspire and thank them. The more you give credit, the more impressive a manager you will be.
10. Send your team members on to bigger and better things: Some leaders hold onto their employees too tightly. A better strategy is to actively seek out opportunities for your team members, so that you establish a tradition that people who work for you ultimately have enormously successful careers. McKinsey, the top-tier consulting firm, has done a fantastic job of building a stellar alumni network; do the same.