4 Things Your Employees Need Most From You

Figuring out what your people want can feel like an intricate puzzle, especially when different employees require different things. Here are four things most employees need to be successful:

  1. Role clarity. Tell your employees what their roles are, what you want them to achieve, and what the rules are for getting there.
  2. Autonomy. People want something interesting to work on and they want to be trusted to do it well.
  3. Accountability. Holding people accountable is not just about being fair. It also sends a message about what is and what isn’t acceptable. This is critical for employees who are trying to figure out how to succeed.
  4. Praise. Everyone wants to be recognized when they’ve done something right. You can motivate employees by highlighting their strengths and not harping on their weaknesses.


How to Inspire Your Team or Employees

As a manager, one of your key responsibilities is to inspire your team-to motivate them to give their best on the job, make difficult changes, and overcome major obstacles. Your communication skills can make or break your ability to provide inspiration.

To sharpen up, practice framing a call to action as a challenge; for example, “We can turn our struggling business unit around.” This approach lets your people know that if they want a new and better team, they ‘ll have to work for it. You’ll lead the charge, but you need their support. As you present the challenge, communicate a sense of hope. It will help your team push through the tough choices necessary to survive and succeed in the current climate.

Identifying High-Potential Employees

Who will be ready to run your company when you can’t be everywhere anymore? Here’s how to pick your next generation of leaders.

As your company grows too big for you to do everything–the way you do now–you’re going to give over some of the leadership. (Relax. This is a good thing!) For reasons of staff morale, economy, and your own precious peace of mind, it’s better to find your new generation of leaders inside the company. But there’s a rub. Not every longtime loyal employee is really suited to be a leader.

Some have reached their potential and are quite comfortable where they are. This doesn’t imply mediocrity. It simply means that their role at the company and their ambition have converged, and a degree of leveling has set in. Others on your staff might be the “me-me” type–utterly convinced of their own limitless potential and blind to the overwhelming evidence that they’ve gone as far as they’re going to get.

How do you decide who among your longtime lieutenants have what it takes? I point to five criteria:

1. They know the business. Your high-potential employees are the ones who have true expertise and keep learning. Their knowledge may be technical or it may be institutional, but it’s invaluable for the organization. More important, they understand how their activities, their sector, and their realm of knowledge is related to the company’s goals.

2. Others respect them. Your staff members, not just you, also have to appreciate how much your high-potentials know. It’s not enough that your top people know their stuff. Everyone else has to know they know it.

3. They are ambitious. High-potential employees aren’t just career-minded; they’re ambitious in a focused way. The best way to get a sense of this is to evaluate their commitment to career progression. Look for signs that they long to accumulate new responsibilities, new successes, additional knowledge, and, for better or worse, additional recognition.

4. They work well with others. Though your leaders need to be driven, they also must be able to form partnerships with others besides you. This attitude goes beyond amiability; it’s a pragmatic, tactical skill that allows them to make better, more informed decisions. Lone rangers may be creative and ambitious, but they make lousy leaders.

5. They have guts. Your next generation of leaders must understand that no matter how much research they do, no matter how many cost-benefit analyses they conduct, no matter how many market surveys they complete, they will always be deciding under conditions of uncertainty. The information at hand will always be less than the information you wish you had. Leaders need to have the courage to take risks.

Though you don’t want your next generation of leaders to be clones of you, you do want them to have the traits that drove you to build a growing company. You want them to know their stuff. You want them to have a good reputation on your team. You want them to be driven but able to give and accept help. Finally, you want them to have the courage to make tough decisions, even if there’s a chance they’ll fail. Because that’s how entrepreneurship works.

Five Traits of A Great Leader

Here are five things you can do to succeed as a great leader:
  1. Instead of commanding, coach your team and organization toward success.
  2. Don’t manage people, empower them. The know-how, experience, and solutions are often out there; it’s a matter of helping people discover them.
  3. Cultivate respect by giving it, instead of demanding it.
  4. Know how to manage both success and failure.
  5. Show graciousness in your management, rather than greediness. Be humble about your successes, and whenever possible, give someone else the opportunity to shine.