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We all like to feel special. No matter where we work or what we do, we like knowing that our opinions, skills and expertise are needed. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to put in extra time, go the extra mile and do what’s necessary for the sake of the company’s success.
If you’re looking for new ways to promote growth in your employees and your company, here are a few things you can do:
Grow Individual Skills
Each employee should bring something unique to their team, and you can help them develop these skills from the moment you start onboarding. While the team needs to work together as a whole to get the job done, be sure you’re recognizing the work of each employee individually.
Take the time to learn where each member of your team excels and what they enjoy doing. Provide them with opportunities to show off their skills and learn more about their practice. If there’s an area of their job they would like to learn more about, provide them with opportunities for growth and practice.
When each individual knows what they do well, they’ll feel more confident when performing these tasks. Taking the time to find out what they enjoy doing and what they want to do more of in the future can also encourage them to develop new skills that will make them better employees.
Recognize the Person, Not Just the Team
While completing tasks should be a team effort, you should always take notice of employees who go beyond what’s expected of them. If a team member picks up the slack of another employee or they perform extremely well, be sure to take the time to acknowledge this effort.
If employees feel like they’re only recognized for the accomplishments of the team, they may be more likely to fall behind and underachieve. They’ll let the other team members carry them because they know their reward will be the same either way. By showing that you recognize the accomplishments of the parts as much as you recognize the accomplishments of the whole, employees will work harder to stand out.
Reward a star member of your team with a special treat or reward that only they receive. Instead of catering lunch for the entire team, take that high-performing member out to lunch. Cash bonuses, admission to a special event or even just recognition at a company-wide meeting can be other ways to show your appreciation.
Present New Opportunities
All managers seem to have their “go-to” employees. When a new project begins or a problem comes up, we know which employees we can rely on to get the job done. But if you’re not spreading the responsibility throughout the entire team, you’re giving some employees the impression they’re not valued.
Employees will not challenge themselves if they’re not given an opportunity to do so. If they’re constantly skipped over for projects or never presented with a chance to show their true capabilities, they may become complacent in their work. Having employees who don’t do their best is not good for the individual or for the company.
Try to give each of your team members a chance to show their skills. Trust them with a leadership spot on a new project, allow them to sit in on an important meeting or pair them with an experienced employee who can show them the ropes. By investing in your employees, they’ll work harder to impress you and show you what they’re capable of.
Encourage Feedback From All Team Members
Teams work best when each individual feels like they have an equal say. While you may be the leader, you need to know the experiences, perspectives and opinions of each member of the team, regardless of their experience level or job title.
When an employee feels like they can’t speak up about an issue or concern, they may assume their opinion doesn’t matter. If they can’t address something that’s bothering them, they’re more likely to be unhappy in their job. This can push them to underperform, do the bare minimum or even look for a new job elsewhere.
Encourage open communication between all your team members. Allow them to come to you with feedback or opinions and encourage them to help other members of the team. Give each individual a voice — even the interns.
Push Them to Go Further
It’s easy for an employee to fall into repetitive, unproductive patterns. If they’re used to just coming to the office, sitting at their desk and doing the minimum of what needs to get done that day, they’re never going to try harder. Instead, they’ll keep coasting.
To keep employees engaged and performing at top level, push them to go a bit further with each project or task they need to complete. Let them know you believe they’re capable of doing more and encourage them to use their own processes, opinions or ideas to take the task to the next level.
Challenging your employees will encourage them to stand out. They’ll think more strategically about their decisions and feel like their work is recognized and appreciated. By pushing them to do what they believe will take the project to the next step, you’re showing that you trust them and believe they’re capable of the task.
Provide a Path to Promotion
If an employee feels stuck in their job, they’re quite likely to look outside the company for new opportunities. When an employee feels they can’t advance within their current company, they may begin to believe their only chance to develop professionally is taking a position somewhere else. If you’re constantly having to hire new employees and train them for the position, you’ll never get anywhere.
But for some positions, the path to a promotion isn’t always clear. If an employee doesn’t know what they need to do to get a raise, new job title or more responsibility, they may assume it isn’t an option.
Maintain communication with your team members on what they need to do to move forward. Work with them to outline expectations, areas of improvement and changes they need to make if they want to advance. Let them know if a promotion is realistic and what they need to accomplish before you can have that discussion.
Remember to Say “Thank You”
You don’t need to offer large bonuses or extreme vacations to show your employees you appreciate them. Even something as small as saying “thank you” can give them the encouragement they need to continue moving forward.
You should try to say “thank you” to your employees on a regular basis, even if they’re only doing the duties laid out in their job descriptions. When they turn in a project or provide you with an update, be sure you’re acknowledging their time and commitment and thanking them for doing the work.
Providing a general level of feedback can add a boost to your “thank you” note. Letting your team know they did a good job on a certain project, or that you valued their perspective, can encourage them to keep trying.
Growing your team is all about effective leadership. As a manager, your team looks to you for feedback, guidance and approval. While you may be the team leader, you’re still a member of the team. If you’re not available to answer questions, provide more information or give insights, your employees will feel disconnected from you and the work they’re doing.
If you distance yourself from your employees or make it difficult for them to schedule time with you, you’re giving them the impression that you don’t care about their concerns or questions. If they can’t easily get an answer or a bit of advice, they’ll be less likely to exceed your expectations or go beyond what’s immediately expected of them.
Make sure your employees know how to reach you if they have a question or a concern. Make it a priority to spend time with each team member, regardless of their experience level. If you’ll be unavailable for a certain amount of time, be sure to put another team member in charge of questions or concerns.
The belief that everyone is replaceable does very little for companies and employees alike. While some employers may use intimidation or fear of getting fired to encourage an employee to work harder, this typically only pushes the employee to find a new job. When a company is constantly interviewing and training new hires, it’s impossible to get anything productive done.
Take the time to show your employees they matter to you. By showing your appreciation for the work they do, they’ll become more committed to you and to the company as a whole. They’ll work harder to push the company forward and stick around for longer.
These tips can be a great starting point for showing your employees you value them, but don’t be afraid to get creative and personal about the rewards and boosts you provide. The more personalized you can get with your employees, the more valued they will feel.