How to Bring Out the Best in Your People
It’s spring, so that means happy times in my yard. The weather’s been absolutely perfect for gardening! Watching the flowers in my yard bloom – that brings me joy! Even a trip to the mail box is an adventure because it’s a chance to see what new flowers have arrived on the scene.
Flanking our front door, we have some lovely flower boxes. I love the idea of people being welcomed by a colorful profusion of blooms as they come to the door. My flower boxes don’t have the benefit of sprinklers like the rest of my yard. That means that my guests are more often met with wilted flowers, or no flowers at all, because they always seem to be the first to go. The flower boxes on my porch seldom reflect my fondness of flowers.
To flourish, flowers need attention. Not just any attention– they demand the appropriate amount of sunlight, water, weeding, and feeding to give them the best chance of success. And they depend on me to do that for them.
The people on your team are a lot like the flowers on my porch. They need attention from you to flourish! Your schedule is probably like mine: demanding and a chock full of responsibilities that can make tending to the needs of your team slip to the bottom of the priority list. While the world keeps spinning when my flower boxes have wilted or, even worse, dead flowers in them, I guarantee you that the cost of neglecting your team is significantly higher!
Did you know that the number one reason people leave an organization is that there is not enough opportunity to progress and develop? It’s true! You can check it out in this recent Gallup report.
Without paying attention to your people, you won’t know how to provide ways for them to progress and develop – ways that could powerfully serve the organization and save money. Losing talented people isn’t cheap!
As the leader, you set the tone. You drive the culture. The question is: are you leading in a way that brings out the best in your people?
Another fascinating statistic that might interest you is one from DDI. They questioned employees to find out the impact that a quality leader had on people. Here’s what they learned:
I feel motivated to give my best to my manager…
Only 11% of the employees of the WORST managers felt motivated
compared to a whopping 98% of the employees of the BEST managers.
My manager does a good job helping me be more productive…
A wee 5% of the employees of the WORST managers felt more productive
while a 94% of the employees of the BEST managers felt more productive.
Those are statistics that get your attention and make you want to want to bring out the best in your people!
So how can you help your people flourish under your leadership?
1. Create a Positive and Safe Culture
Culture is hard to nail down, but leaves one with a powerful feeling that can be amazingly positive or incredibly negative, but rarely neutral. Some people describe it as the essence or spirit of an organization. Others refer to culture as the vibe, glue, or DNA of an organization. Perhaps a more tangible way of thinking about it is the morale of the organization. It is not the organization’s values, but rather the sum of the employees, the interactions, and the physical environment that contribute to the culture. Bottom line, it’s the way you treat each other, and that starts with you, the leader. You set the tone that trickles down throughout the organization.
What kind of culture are you creating?
2. Identify Their Strengths & Talents
It makes no sense for me to repeatedly buy a sun loving perennial and then plant it in the shade. If I want the perennials I plant to come back year after year and flourish, I need to be sure it’s in the right spot. The same is true for your people. If you want them to thrive, be sure that their strengths and talents are suited for the opportunities you give them. When your people are in the right spot and able to do what they do best, they will be happier, more creative, and a much greater asset to the organization.
How are you identifying your people’s strengths and providing opportunities for them to flourish?
3. Resist the Urge to Micromanage
If you want people to do their best work, give them the structure and freedom necessary for them to do just that.
Back to my garden analogy, I appreciate the plastic tag tucked into the container plants come in at the garden store. They provide all kinds of helpful information on them including how far apart to space the plant in the container. With space, their roots can develop and they aren’t forced to compete for nutrients. That’s great to know! Then you can arrange the plants in your garden so that they will have the best chance at succeeding.
Unfortunately, people don’t come with those same tags. It would be handy if they did. However, people, just like plants, thrive best when they have a little space and freedom.
Freedom: space to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow. After all, we all learn best by doing unless we are too afraid to try.
How can you monitor your people without being a micromanager?
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
If you want to be a successful leader, then you have to be an excellent communicator. It’s kind of the secret sauce to leadership…or in keeping with my plant theme, the water, light, and fertilizer that plants can survive without.
Communication is a big bucket. It includes the ability to consistently convey a whole lot including:
It helps if a leader is just as articulate in person as they are in writing. Learning to communicate to people based on their personality or thinking preference – a great big huge bonus! And don’t forget, a critical part of communicating is listening!
How clear, concise, and consistently are you communicating with your people? How would they rate your communication skills?
5. Applaud Their Achievements
A close cousin to communication: regularly recognizing the achievements of your people and applauding them. Being stingy with your praise and generous with your criticism creates an atmosphere that’s tough to succeed in. Be sure to give recognition and credit where it is due.
How can you systematically recognize the efforts of your people?
6. Encourage Collaboration Not Competition
Creating a collaborative environment requires all of the previous steps. Collaboration is a facet of the culture you establish – one that utilizes the strengths of your people working together to contribute their best bits resulting in superior outcomes. As you clearly communicate, provide structure, freedom, and recognition the need for competition fades.
How are you encouraging your people to collaborate?
When my garden thrives, it’s because I’m giving it the attention it needs – even my flower boxes! Wilted, sad, looking plants means that I’m the one responsible for neglecting their well-being. Their health hinges on me. While I may be too preoccupied to notice when my garden is languishing, it’s not hard for my neighbors to tell!
I guarantee investing time in your people will always pay off and result in a happy, healthy, and successful team!