Ellen Warden
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Atlanta, GA

This advice is attributed to Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, described as one of the greatest business leaders and innovators of all time.  It suggests that business leaders who instill their employees with confidence and support them without being critical inspire their team to act and spark them to perform.

When you look at any great sports team you see players, team leaders and coaches encouraging each other to excel. They give each other “high fives” for great plays. They keep the team’s passion and mood upbeat by encouraging each other, even in the face of setbacks.

In the same way, a key factor to encouraging employee growth is making it safe for people to take some risks and make some mistakes. People are afraid to fail, and this fear of failure is the biggest deterrent to growth. “Be careful.” “Don’t make any mistakes.” “Errors can be costly.” “Your job is on the line.” This is what employees hear from their bosses and it becomes engrained in their own minds.  The result is that people become gun-shy and don’t take a chance for fear of reprisals. In the current tough economy, with employees being terminated, furloughed or laid off, it’s no wonder they are reluctant to act on their own.

But an effective leader needs to encourage self-confidence in their employees, “because then they will act”, says Welch. It leads to growth, change, improvement and innovation. Without it, organizations remain stagnant and fall behind the competition.

Here are some ideas you can use to encourage your great employees to step out of their comfort zone, thereby equipping them to contribute to the ongoing success and continuous improvement of your firm:

Create very clear and measurable goals.  Let your employees determine the level of support they need to accomplish their goals.  Aim high – don’t allow employees to set low expectations.  Then, ask your employees to rise to the challenge.

Drive delegation, not dependency.  Outline any assumptions and “non-negotiables” and clearly define their scope of decision-making authority.  Identify resources or support you can provide, but refrain from the trap of doing for them what they are capable of doing for themselves.

Value your employees.  Take a genuine interest in them.   Make them feel like they are part of a successful team, that their work makes a difference and is necessary to your firm’s success.

Be enthusiastic!  Saying to someone “you can do it!”  or “I believe in you!” provides a catalyst for them to overcome obstacles and accomplish great things .

Listen.  Encourage others to voice their ideas rather than always offering your own ideas.  Don’t automatically tell them they are wrong, even if you disagree. Listen to their ideas.

Ask questions. Instead of giving orders to your employees, ask them questions to get them to think about an issue — and come up with their own solutions. Encourage them to brainstorm with colleagues or bosses to get a second opinion, develop a game plan, and implement it. But don’t make them seek permission.

Recognize accomplishment. Whether huge or small, an accomplishment is an accomplishment. Therefore, give credit. Recognition coming from you, or from anyone else, will be appreciated.

Communicate candidly.  Failing to let people know when their performance falls short of expectation ultimately does them a disservice.  When offering constructive criticism, build on their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses.

You can reach Ellen at [email protected]
More information is available at www.WorkPlaceSynergy.com.

Ellen Warden
Ellen Warden