When I ask business leaders what their most significant asset is, I routinely get the response ‘It’s their people’. Yet most businesses don’t act that way. The external marketplace and business arena are continually changing, and as we know, the old rule book no longer applies. Changing dynamics in the recruitment sector, the digital revolution, new role definitions, remote and online training methods, modern regulatory frameworks supported by new legislation (the list could go on) has redefined the ‘ability to learn’ as an essential skill.
Irrespective of your business, industry or size, an essential aspect of your employee engagement and retention should be your people feeling like they are growing and developing. If your people can link their personal and professional growth to the organisation, they are more likely to stay and participate at a higher level through increased commitment, loyalty and levels of motivation.
One of the six core human needs is the need for growth – for emotional, intellectual or spiritual development. If you are not learning and bettering yourself every day, then you are not growing.
Growing and developing is a two-way partnership between the individual and the business. I think of it as a ‘soft contract’, the rules of engagement for how both parties can achieve maximum value from the relationship.
And within this soft contract are four core principles, which underpin the growth and development of your people and ultimately the key to their motivation and loyalty:
#1 Understand your people’s WHY
One of the keys to unlocking a motivational environment is to clearly understand your people’s personal goals and how being successful at work can be one of the vehicles and enablers in helping them realise their goals. The moment we create the bridge in their mind, the link between their personal goals, business goals, and what they do daily during work, self-motivation kicks in. This is the defining moment a person changes from someone with a job to someone with a purpose. While the motivation to do so must come from within, the triggers that compel them to make the switch are ones an organisation and its leaders can create.
#2 An individual’s never-ending thirst for learning
I believe every person owns their performance through the conscious choices they make, and one of those is undoubtedly having an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions.
But the day you stop LEARNING is the day you stop EARNING!
It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.
Do not get to the point where your people feel like they are falling behind, because from this point on, you will be just playing catch up, trying to reach the point where they think they ought to be. And that place is no fun for anyone.
#3 Setting your people up for success
If you asked your people what great performance looks like, feels like and acts like in their role, how aligned would their answer be with your version? There should be one version of the truth, and in my experience, perception and reality are often misaligned.
If you haven’t created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for their role, explained and demonstrated what great looks like, and set them up for success, it’s almost predictable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what great looks like.
Create clarity of purpose for your people. Enable them with the mindset (attitude, determination, will), the skillset (technical or soft skills) and the toolset (tools to do their job) to truly unlock their potential and deliver excellence within their role fuelling their inner self worth, igniting their self-motivation, building their confidence and their loyalty will be inevitable.
#4 Empowerment without enablement is a train crash
Empowerment is often an overused word which means little without enablement. The one without the other is simply a train crash.
Often training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role, rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking, there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.
Enabling an individual so they can contribute their whole self gets them to return next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be.
The success of any business is hardwired to the productivity of its people. Organisations that consider people as merely a paid resource have difficulty retaining good people and generally end up overpopulated with underperformers.
Organisations that value people as their greatest asset and demonstrate it through their actions are positioned to get the best out of all employees while retaining their top talent or high potential – a catalyst for business growth.