Every individual employee has a backstory. A history. Strengths. Passions. Professional and personal interests.
At the end of the workday, your employees are people with individual thoughts, priorities, and talents. They’re the same way at the beginning and middle of the workday as well … if you know how to value them uniquely.
The best way to cultivate your employees’ skillsets are to cultivate the employee behind the salary. The benefits. The ordinary day-to-day tasks. You rely directly on your employees for performance, just like they rely directly on you for your leadership and management. Your organization also relies directly on your guidance, as you depend on the organization for profits, purpose, and professional development.
Look beyond your employees’ job titles, tenure, and compensation. Treat them as the individual employee that they are, and they’ll provide extraordinary value to you, your team, and your organization. If you don’t know your employees on an individual level, you won’t be able to leverage their unique talents that will ultimately improve their well-being, your position as a leader, and your organization’s level of employee engagement. This level of engagement drives productivity, performance, and innovation. Individuality is the key in driving this type of engagement with your employees.
There are five things to keep in mind when you’re prioritizing your employees as unique, individual, irreplaceable assets to your team. If you embrace and practice these five principles, you’ll develop better trust, generate more synergies, and gain greater influence with your employees.
Freedom of expression isn’t just for the Constitution. When you empower the individual employee to express themselves more freely, you can better determine their individual strengths, interests, and behaviors. As you allow your employees to express themselves freely, whether in their desk decor or in one-on-one conversations, you’re actively collecting more “data” on each of your employees. This information enables you to communicate more effectively with your employees and align your employees’ skill sets and interests with upcoming work projects and assignments.
Expression allows your employees to feel comfortable with themselves, their work environment, and with YOU. Take the extra time to talk to your employees, ask them about their lives, and genuinely learn about them (which will help you learn from them, as they learn from you). These efforts build trust and encourage your employees to bring their full selves to the office.
As your employees express themselves more freely, you mustaccept them for who they are. Accept their strengths AND flaws, better understand their opportunity areas and the projects they shouldn’t take on. If you don’t show this effort, then your employees will stop expressing themselves and putting forth their full selves.
How do you show an employee that you accept them individually? Recognize something unique to them. Whether it is a part of their personality or unique skill they have or even acknowledging the personal interests they have. You can get creative in this display, which will only heightened the connection you have with your employee and strengthen the relationship you have with them.
For instance, if one of your employees loves the Red Sox, you can gift them a bobble head of their favorite player to display proudly on their desk. Ideas like this are relatively inexpensive, personal, and continually affirm the fact that the individual employee is accepted and valued by you. When your employee looks at the bobble head, they’ll see a reminder that they are appreciated and have a personal connection with their manager. With reciprocity alone, your employee will become more inclined to make that connection stronger and stronger through continued self-expression. Which, in turn, must be met with your acceptance.
Don’t get me wrong – just because you accept something for what it is, does NOT mean that you need to endure it if it’s a detriment to your team. By accepting your people for who they are and what they bring to the table, you can better understand the chemistry of the team and if a particular employee isn’t meshing with the team.
As you build your relationships with an employee through expression and acceptance, you’re naturally encouraging and reinforcing their uniqueness. Over and over again. Encouragement is needed sometimes to put words to it though. Through encouragement, you’re better empowering the individual employee to value themselves, grow exponentially, and try new things that align with their skillset and interests. Without encouragement, your employees won’t have the courage to put themselves into their work.
You may have more courage than the rest, but if you don’t pass that on to your team, you won’t be able to best lead your team’s productivity and performance. Always encourage, never discourage, and empower the individual employee to experience, and express, their own courage! And what can be more courageous than bringing your full self to work, thanks to expression and unconditional acceptance?
When your individual employee acts on your encouragement, you need to validate them AND their efforts. Even if they fail. Otherwise, you’ll keep your employees locked in place and prevent them from truly adapting, learning, and growing as members of your team.
If one of your employees tries a new marketing strategy, based on your encouragement of her creativity, it’s critical to validate her innovative and entrepreneurial efforts (regardless of outcome). Especially given the fact that you’ve reinforced and encouraged her creativity, initiative, and foresight. Validate her, and her efforts, so that she brings the same energy, commitment, and fortitude to the next project as the individual employee that she is.
In the same vein of acceptance, validation is NOT a means of adopting bad habits and behaviors. Rather, by validating your employees, and coming up with lessons learned, you can continually empower your employee to try new things, stay open to feedback, and leverage their experiences for continued development. As your employees adapt, they’ll refine processes AND drive better outcomes simultaneously.
Now that your employees are uniquely liberated, accepted, encouraged, and validated, you need to remind them that their individuality contributes meaningfully to the team and the entire organization. As your employees feel nurtured and uniquely valuable, it’s crucial to keep them aligned with your team’s system and with organizational directives.
By cultivating this sense of belonging, you allow your employees to see the bigger picture. And you effectively allow them to help shape the canvas for the future, as they recognize that their unique, individual attributes directly benefit your organization’s livelihood. In short, your employees will understand that what they do actually matters. And that understanding will make a world of difference as they engage their teammates and their leader (YOU!).
Expression. Acceptance. Encouragement. Validation. Belonging. If you follow these principles, you’ll cultivate the individual employee who delivers enhanced business results, collaborates effectively within your team and contributes meaningfully under your leadership.
And always remember: your employees are unique … so treat them that way!
For more from Kyle Crooke visit: http://kylecrooke.com/
Additional Resources on the topic: https://www.hrbartender.com/2019/employee-engagement/rise-individual-employee/