Your employees are an unlimited source of energy that can take your business to even higher levels of success. Here's how to encourage them.
The best employees are masters of making things happen. They create far more energy than they consume, and, instead of taking energy from an organization, they channel and amplify it back. But they'll be most effective if you can provide a work environment that supports and rewards their efforts. Here are seven proven ways to energize your employees:
1. Make sure everyone knows the business's goals.
If you want your employees energetically working toward the finish line, they need to be clear on where it is. That's why it's essential that all your employees understand how they can help either attain or hinder the company's goals. Once your people know the goals, make sure you give them the tools, training and resources they need to attain them.
2. Be flexible in your policies whenever possible.
View policies as guidelines, not absolute rules. Don't do the same things because you always have. Instead, constantly question what you do and challenge employees to do it better. This helps to create a bond among employees, making them more apt to help one another as needed in other ways as well.
3. Match employee interests with your business's needs.
If you have an employee who was an art major in college, let him help in merchandising displays. If another of your employees is a history buff, let her write a company history for your website. Knowing the hobbies and passions of your team will help you make the most of what motivates them.
4. Let employees decide what to do when problems arise.
When you're the person in charge, it's natural to want to make decisions and share your expertise. Unfortunately, this does little to develop the skills of your employees. Don't rescue employees or solve a problem they could solve themselves. Instead ask, "How do you think we should handle this situation?" If the answer is workable, let them implement the solution.
5. Find out what skills employees are interested in learning.
Whether it's work-related skills that they can apply in their jobs or more personal interests and hobbies, give your people a chance to learn more in the areas they care about. Consider sponsoring them to attend classes or seminars that relate to the topic. Investment in learning keeps employees active and interested in their jobs--even when the topic doesn't immediately relate to their responsibilities.
6. Learn where employees want to go with their careers.
You want your employees to know the company's goals, but you should also know what their ambitions are within the business. If someone wants to eventually take a leadership position in your company, you can select and assign a wide variety of tasks that will take them closer to their goal. If they prefer to specialize in a single area, such as corporate sales, help the employee build skills and expertise in that specific area.
7. Create a fun committee.
Designate a few employee volunteers to help make the workplace fun. This can range from planned celebrations to field trips to spontaneous daily pranks. Who said work has to be dull and boring?
Dedicate yourself to making these practices a part of the way that you do business. Your employees will pay you back with dramatically improved effectiveness and involvement in their jobs.
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PETER ECONOMY is the best-selling author of Managing For Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 60 other books. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years. @bizzwriter