Monday, May 11, 2009

Get the Most From Your People

Watch people playing softball, bowling, scrap booking, gardening, etc. What do you see? You see people enjoying what they are doing. You notice passion, initiative, energy, creativity, drive and a striving to do the best that they possibly can. It is obvious that the average person has these characteristics. These are the same people that are your employees. So what don't you see much of this at work? The challenge for business leadership everywhere is to focus this passion, and the energy that results from it, on the work they do for the company. When you accomplish, you have put your organization on the path to becoming elite. You have people working for you, not machines. They have a desire to succeed, ideas, needs, energy and many other capabilities and drives.

If every one in the company made a list of these personal attributes, you would notice that all of the lists are very similar. Even Yours! This leads me to the thought that at a high level, everyone is fairly the same. Of course, we have different strengths and skills. After all, a company is a collection of different skills working together to accomplish a mission. All people are equal, we just have different jobs. The more you treat them as people rather than part of the machinery, the more willing they are to release their passion and energy on the work they do. The more you treat them as responsible adults rather than simply "units of execution", the stronger the company becomes. This is easier for some leaders than others. A lot depends on how you were raised, what you value, how you learned to manage an organization, company norms and culture and your ego. Leaders who developed in a collaborative, inclusive environment place a higher value on teamwork and equality.

They treat employees as valuable people. Their people are part of the solution. Leaders, who developed in more of a traditional, hierarchical organization, place a higher value on top-down structure and authority of the position. They have a greater tendency to treat people as "units of execution". Their workers are part of the problem. The most effective way to get your people to care as much about the success of the company as you do is to encourage them to participate. The more they feel part of what is happening in the company, the more of themselves they are willing to invest. This leads to greater productivity. The inclusive type of leader allows the people to contribute as much as they can, getting increased value from each person. The traditional type of leader tends to keep participation to a minimum walling off the additional value that the people could bring to the company. Which type of leader are you? If you are already an inclusive leader, think about the strengths of your people. Then find better ways to allow them to focus their strengths and passion creating business results. If you are a traditional leader, you probably have a lot of people who just do what they are asked to do but not much more. Put yourself in their place. What would cause you to get excited enough to pour your energy into doing only excellent work? Then DO IT!..for your people and for your company's success!

Bob Maitland
Bob is a consultant, coach and author who helps the leaders of companies to improve their bottom lines by focusing on the business goals throughout the company, increasing employee engagement and streamlining processes.
Maitland Performance Solutions
When you absolutely have to get better

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