Professional growth may imply more money, but it truly encompasses much more. The need for challenge, stimulation and stretching our own capabilities is what drives people to want to grow and perform at a higher standard.
The desire for accomplishment was coined “the need for achievement” by Henry Murray, a Harvard psychologist. These high achievers usually have a strong inner drive to compete, take action, and set lofty goals for their development. While not everyone possesses this quality to a high degree, the need for achievement exists in everyone at some level.
So how do you draw out the potential of your employees to help them grow and become high performers, or possibly leaders themselves? These 7 tips are an excellent place to start.
1. Use positive stress to stimulate your employees.
When you hear the word stress, the thought that comes to mind is almost always negative. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all stress is bad. Positive stress can increase blood flow and release adrenaline. This type of stress is what athletes experience when they compete that makes them feel fully engaged, excited, and capable.
You can activate that positive stress by holding your employees to higher standards, requesting more, and providing the support to help them succeed. Provided the stress doesn’t become highly burdensome, negative, or beyond the capabilities of the individual, most will meet expectations with a renewed sense of purpose and increased efficiency.
2. Positive Framing.
Perception is reality. It’s up to you as a manager to help mold that view into something positive. How you frame a challenge could be the difference between a perceived impossible task over a chance to do something new. Untruths and manipulation will only serve to break trust. The key to framing challenges in a positive light is to be genuine.
3. Set and agree upon expected goals.
The goals you set shouldn’t be rudimentary. The best results achieved are clear and challenging, require commitment, involve task complexity, and have a process for feedback. Having lofty goals often leads employees to have higher performance than just positive verbal encouragement. With today’s expected frequency of immediate affirmation, rewards, and gratification, some of your employees may have forgotten what it means to reach a true milestone. It is vital to help them feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with setting and achieving a meaningful goal.
4. Encourage your employees to self-evaluate.
It isn’t easy to recognize you own pitfalls or shortcomings. If an employee has little to no interest in growth, many times it’s because they don’t realize they need it. The vast majority of employees overestimate their own abilities, and those who are self-critical are often the most competent. Having a system for feedback and analysis allows your team to see their personal levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Lacking feedback, we tend to create our own realities.
5. Provide Mentors.
Make sure it’s understood that experienced peers and mentors are willing to share their experience and wisdom with those who are currently taking on unfamiliar responsibilities or are developing new skills. Mentoring does more than benefit the protégée. Those relationships strengthen employee relationships, foster job satisfaction, and increase company loyalty.
6. Instilling the build-the-resume culture.
Having ample resources for employees to develop a wide range of additional skill sets creates a sense of meaningful personal advancement. When employees feel more employable, and as a result more valuable, are more engaged. Helping employees add skills to their resumes not only benefits the organization but also helps the employees avoid stagnation that stems from the lack of continual progress, and they tend to want to stick around.
7. Fail-forward Culture.
Each new challenge carries a risk of failure. No one wants to brave a new challenge if there is an implied or overt threat of punitive action for failure. Imbue the culture of your organization with the sense that bold failures are not only acceptable, but desirable because they teach important lessons and foster innovation.
Supporting your employees doesn’t cost more, but the payoff has the ability to change everything.