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Employees Can Be Much Better Than They Are

NATHANIEL BRANDEN TELLS HOW
EMPLOYEES CAN BE MUCH BETTER THAN THEY ARE

Employee self-esteem has traditionally been a subject for the analyst’s couch. In the 21st century and beyond, however, it doesn’t make sense to leave it there.
Key: How an employee feels about him/herself directly affects job performance and, ultimately, business success. Employees who are constantly second-guessed, micromanaged and punished for every shortcoming end up resisting change, avoiding risk-taking behaviors and passively following the pack.
A company staffed with this type of employee won’t last long in today’s market.

WINNING ATTITUDE
On the other hand, employees who are empowered to do their jobs and are respected for their ingenuity-even though their ideas occasionally fail-are energized by change…eager to conceive and try new things…and are genuinely interested in working with and helping others.
This type of employee helps organizations prosper and grow.
Successful business owners know that they must be confident enough to hire and nurture intelligent, self-assured employees.
Reason: If you feel insecure or undeserving of success, you won’t be able to applaud employee ideas and successes and inspire them to greater achievements.
So-the first step to building confident employees is to work on yourself. Recognize that…
.Hiring smart people will help you and your organization be more successful. Smart, creative people will challenge and inspire you to be smarter and more creative yourself and will give you new perspective on your business.
.Competence beats incompetence. You’ll have more time to do long-range planning if you hire employees who can work independently…and avoid those who need your input and approval minute by minute to do their jobs.
.Doing more means accomplishing less. If you play Lone Ranger and insist on meeting every customer and managing every project yourself, employees will feel second-guessed and cut off from you and the business.
.Other people’s ideas, initiatives, and accomplishments in no way detract from yours. Some of the most creative products and services are developed by teams of people whose ideas “piggyback” on each other.

ENCOURAGING CONFIDENCE
Employees’ self-esteem at work is bolstered-or undetermined-by the company’s culture and by the personal relationships you and other managers have with employees. To build confident employees…
.Create a culture in which it is understood that every person at every level is expected to treat everyone else with courtesy and respect. Let people know they’ll be evaluated on their treatment of others and their ability to be a team player on regular performance reviews.
.Make sure each person knows specifically what he is responsible for. People who are clear about what is expected of them are more likely to be confident about meeting those expectations.
Beware of tax confusion. Several years ago, the CEO of a medium-sized business asked me to help him find out why there wasn’t a higher level of accountability in his firm. I asked each senior manager to write a memo stating what, precisely, he understood himself to be responsible for and also what he’d like to be responsible for.
What surfaced was tremendous confusion. In some cases, two or more executives held themselves exclusively responsible for the same part of the business. In other instances, no one claimed responsibility. We did the same exercise at each level of the organization and found the same confusion. No wonder people didn’t feel confident and empowered.
.Give people assignments that stretch their known capabilities. Challenging people helps them grow and-especially when they’re successful at meeting the challenge-helps build self-esteem.
Caution: Be careful not to overwhelm people with new and different responsibilities. An office assistant might rise to the challenge of booking a conference center and making hotel reservations for clients who will be attending a conference.
If asked to plan the conference in its entirety, however-to determine a theme, set an agenda, find a lunchtime keynote speaker and arrange for experts to lead concurrent sessions-he is likely to feel overwhelmed.
.Acknowledge accomplishments and excellent performance. Recognition of outstanding work should be public and enthusiastic. But-to preserve people’s dignity, correct mistakes quietly and in private.
When an employee takes intelligent risks, solves a problem or accomplishes something extraordinary, broadcast the employee’s story throughout the organization. Other employees will see what kinds of behaviors are desired and rewarded. They’ll also feel good to know that you recognize and appreciate their colleagues’ efforts.
.Create an environment in which people feel comfortable expressing disagreements-and airing grievances. Convey respect for differences of opinion and don’t punish dissent.
Example: Make eye contact with employees…listen actively to what’s being said…don’t permit yourself to adopt a condescending, superior, sarcastic or disapproving tone…and work with employees to understand situations and/or solve problems.
Effective: Ask, “What is the situation/problem/disagreement?” …”What does the work require?” …”What do you think needs to be changed or done about the situation?”
Avoid ego-focussed questions, such as, “Whose wishes will prevail, yours or mine?”
.Share information freely. The objective is to enable every employee to understand how his work relates to the broader goals of the organization.
.Make sure people have the authority and resources they need to do their job. Find out what employees need to do their jobs to the best of their ability-and then provide it. When people feel they have little or no control over their work, they become unmotivated and feel negative about you and the company.
Question to ask: “What do you need to feel more in control of your work?”

(From Bottom Line/Business)