In tough economic times, organizations must focus on getting the highest possible return on their workforce investment.
To achieve that goal, it’s more important than ever for supervisors to motivate employees, challenge them to peak efficiency and create an environment that helps them grow not just as employees, but as people.
Here are six ways managers can help employees maximize their productivity and improve retention, as explained in the new book, Fifth Wave:
1. Question employees relentlessly. A big part of creating a growth-oriented workplace is to constantly question your employees. Examples:
- “Did you notice what you did there?”
- “Why do you think you said that?”
- “I noticed that when your position was challenged in the meeting, you didn’t defend it. Why?”
Creating a “question culture” will help raise performance expectations throughout the company. It will train employees to think carefully about how they do their jobs and ensure that they have sound reasons for every decision.
2. Encourage conflict. Yes, that’s right. The purpose of the workplace is not to make everyone happy; it’s to grow people to their maximum potential. Avoid groupthink by encouraging employees to ask questions of co-workers and play devil’s advocate on important decisions.
Conflict and confrontation are rarely pleasant, but they are the very definition of. They are also necessary to foster relationships.
3. Focus on relationships. Monetary incentives go only so far in creating employee loyalty. They tie people to a company the same way a dog is trained to stay in the yard. It’s fine until the company across the street offers a bigger, juicier bone.
Instead, work to create a culture in which employee enrichment and relationships are valued. That gives employees a more rewarding reason to come to work every day.
4. Provide honest, caring feedback. You should be constantly telling employees how they’re doing. Honest feedback can be painful for both parties, but it’s the backbone of a growth organization. A relationship without honest feedback is simply a “mutual toleration society.”
5. Practice the art of self-disclosure. Feedback cuts both ways. You want your employees to provide it to you as well. It’s a risk worth taking because you can learn a lot from your employees. Self-disclose often and you’ll teach by example the kind of relationships you expect to flourish in your department.
6. Form an accountability group. Some people fear receiving or giving feedback. But put them in the right setting and they may be willing to provide compelling feedback. Accountability groups are one way to foster such feedback.
In these groups, people give and receive feedback, create action plans based on that feedback, and hold group members accountable for implementing their plans.
Bottom line: People who are personally and professionally fulfilled are better employees … and they’ll stick around longer. That’s reason enough to foster a growth-oriented workplace, especially given the current economy.
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