The Leadership Key to Unlock Team Potential

I was recently talking with a manager who was becoming increasingly frustrated with his team. He was exasperated because he felt that he had done all that he could do to motivate the team and they were still performing at barely minimum standards. This manager cared a lot about the company he worked for and it was obvious that he wanted to contribute to its success. He just couldn’t understand why the others on his team "didn’t get it." "Don’t they know that doing their best contributes to a win-win situation for both the organization and themselves in the long run?" No…they didn’t "get it."

I asked this manager how he knew that his own hard work made a difference to the success of the company. After thinking for a minute, he stated that his boss had taken him to lunch recently and during their conversation told him several specific ways the manager had helped him in his own leadership of the company. (He also said that his boss does this sort of thing on a fairly regular basis.) I asked the manager how he felt about that lunch conversation. He stated that it made him feel "good"; as if his efforts are noticed and even better, appreciated. He smiled and said, "I know what you’re going to ask me next!" I laughed and asked him to elaborate. He stated "although in my mind I think my team knows they’re appreciated, maybe they don’t feel that way….maybe I’ve been so frustrated that I’ve just focused on pushing them." After some discussion, I asked him to try and stop "pushing" his team and start leading them by inviting them to become even more important contributors to the organizational mission. Let them know OFTEN that you and others NOTICE and APPRECIATE their efforts. Let them know HOW their efforts contribute to the success of the organization.

Why do this??

Because these actions are the "yeast" that makes your team’s efforts rise exponentially.

Research in organizational psychology shows that the #1 employee need is not money, more time off or a fancy workstation. The #1 employee need is TO FEEL APPRECIATED AND TO FEEL THAT THEIR EFFORTS MAKE A DIRECT CONTRIBUTION TO THE SUCCESS OF THE ORGANIZATION. We know it is a basic human need to feel that we’re a part of something larger than ourselves.

How can managers meet this need?

Award programs, gain sharing and other formal recognition initiatives are "OK." But the most important and effective action a manager can take is to look each of their team members in the eyes and tell them that they sincerely appreciate some specific thing they have done to contribute in a positive manner to the organization. It is incumbent upon each manager to spell out, in very clear terms, how each employee’s efforts support the goals and successes of the organization. If this connection is not made, there is little chance of getting the best of their talents. 

Effective application of this "yeast" into the "dough" can enhance:

    – Retention of good employees

    -Dedication to the team and company

    -Individual motivation to give one’s best & go beyond minimum expectations

    -Pride in the organization & self

When was the last time someone expressed appreciation to you?

When was the last time you expressed appreciation to someone else?

The genuine expression of appreciation is a powerful key that can unlock your team’s potential. What have you got to lose by trying it out? Better yet, what have you got to gain?

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