“We cannot create observers by saying ‘observe’, but by giving them the power and the means for this observation.” —Maria Montessori
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
While Maria Montessori was speaking about the education of children, her idea applies just as well to employees and how we develop the talent in our organizations. We want to hire the best and the brightest, we get really excited when we find them, and then they leave. Why? The only way to keep employees with great potential is to give them M.O.R.E.
Have you ever had the experience of pulling into your driveway after leaving the office and realizing that you drove the whole way home on auto pilot? Sometimes I have even found myself driving, going into auto pilot mode, and heading to the office when where I intended to go was Costco. This phenomenon makes me laugh at myself, but it also gets me thinking about engaging our minds in what we are doing when tasks become routine. What might we miss along the way? Will we end up at our intended destination?
So, what happens when our employees’ tasks become routine? If they are not challenged or engaged and their mind goes on auto pilot, what might they miss? What opportunities for improvement are we sacrificing? How long will employees with great potential stay with our organization if they aren’t challenged and offered opportunity?
As a leader, you must learn to recognize the talent in your employees and give them the stage to shine. When you dedicate time and resources to developing the talent in your organization, you turn ordinary employees into extraordinary employees. If you want to get more from your employees, you are going to have to give M.O.R.E.
Lee Iacocca emphasized that we should, “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do these things effectively, you can’t miss.” Your employees possess knowledge, skills, and experience that they want to share with your organization. When you encourage them to make the most of their talents and you invest in them, your employees will become motivated. You must recognize that each employee is unique; they possess different talents and are motivated in different ways. Show that you value their capabilities, help them further develop their talents, and motivate them based on their individual personalities.
Steven Spielberg believes, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” You must learn to see the extraordinary potential in each employee and give them the opportunity to reach it. Give them the necessary skills and resources they need and then let them tackle challenges on their own and in their own way. Provide a safe place for them to try, fail, and learn from their mistakes. Give employees the opportunity to become the best versions of themselves; let them learn from one another, design how their own work gets done, and make decisions on their own. Create opportunities for your employees and then help them see that opportunity is available all around them.
Joyce Meyer tells us, “We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.” Build relationships with your employees based on mutual trust and respect. Invest your time and resources into bringing out the best in others; become their coach and loudest cheerleader. Build a strong sense of community where employees feel a sense of belonging and a vested interest in the success of the organization. Communicate openly and share information often so employees know where they stand as individuals, where the team stands, and where the organization stands. When employees know that you care and are looking out for their best interest, you will build strong relationships that foster trust and loyalty.
Tom Ridge explained, “You have to enable and empower people to make decisions independent of you. As I’ve learned, each person on a team is an extension of your leadership; if they feel empowered by you they will magnify your power to lead.” Engage employees in contributing to problem identification and solving conversations. Encourage them to make decisions and to share their knowledge and experience with others. Give them the tools they need and then empower them to make decisions and take control of their own work.
Everyone benefits when employees develop their talents; productivity increases, quality improves, and morale strengthens. When you invest in your employees and provide them with opportunity you will be amazed how your culture, morale, and outcomes improve.
Your investment in the development of your employees is proof that you value them as individuals, that you recognize the contribution they make to the organization, and that you are excited about their potential. As your employees grow, so will the capabilities and success of the organization, and so will you as a leader.
Help employees reach their full potential; retain valuable talent, and improve the adaptability of the organization by giving your employees M.O.R.E.
© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.