“When you take care of your team, they’ll take care of your business.” - Richard Branson
We hear business leaders say all the time, "Our people are our greatest asset." Often, this is nothing more than a gratuitous platitude. That's so unfortunate; the spirit of this statement is spot-on.
That said, I’m not a big fan of thinking of team members as "assets" or "human capital." For me, those labels dehumanize the individual and limit the potential they bring to your organization.
Unlocking that potential is critical to everyone -- the organization, other team members, and, especially, the individual themselves. When someone commits the next phase of their career to you, that’s a HUGE freakin’ responsibility.
It is a fundamental responsibility to build them up.
And here's how you can do that.
Build their skills and knowledge
This should be obvious but, all too often, it isn't. Invest in each team member's development by providing skills training and learning opportunities to give them an advantage over others who do the same job. A few opportunities to consider are sales training, writing classes, technical certifications, computer skills, and anything that helps them become more effective communicators.
Build their confidence by providing honest feedback
This is an area where most leaders struggle. Either they will only offer positive statements or wait until the individual fails and then blow up at them. The key is to identify the primary areas where an employee will be evaluated and schedule regular check-ins to discuss the performance, good and bad.
The regular check-ins alone will likely keep the individual performing at a high level. Additionally, when you are in the habit of having easy, frequent conversations, it becomes easier to have difficult discussions if they become necessary.
Build their voice and expect them to use it
When the highest performers on your team become silent, you’re in trouble. But this must extend to everyone on your team. Each team member has a unique perspective, and you will miss out on insights and opportunities if they don't share them. Just recognize, some team members are going to be much more reluctant to speak up. You must let them know how important their ideas are and find a comfortable way to give them the stage.
Build their sense of pride
Do this by regularly reminding them of how important they are to your success. Individuals sometimes lose perspective of how they contribute to the organizational mission. Be specific when pointing out how their contributions matter.
Build them up by expecting them to be great
If you want to build your people up, set the bar high. The more you expect of them, the higher they will reach. Set aggressive goals for them and then hold them accountable for attaining them. This is the clearest signal of just how much they matter to the team.
Build your people up and prepare them to do great things, even if that path takes them elsewhere. Build them up because it's the right thing to do; it's your responsibility. Along the way, they will help create opportunities you could have never imagined.
When you develop a reputation for building your people up, you will never have a shortage of talent lined up at your door asking to join your team.
Photo by konradbak.