Are You An Employer or a Potential-Optimiser?
Here’s a question: how much do you value the people who work in your company? The answer to this might seem obvious: without them it’s possible your business would grind to a halt. And yet, many of the business owners I encounter aren’t showing that appreciation in any real terms.
The reality is that your business is only as good as the people in your team. Your ideas could be spot on, but if the people on the ground aren’t implementing them in the right way then those ideas are unlikely to succeed. This could be a key reason why your business is failing to thrive and grow.
Personally, I believe that business owners should think of themselves not just as employers but as potential-optimisers. When we choose to employ someone, we typically do so because we like something about what they have to offer. Often this spark is due to potential rather than the finished product. Someone who has never worked in your business before is unlikely to give you exactly what you need on their first day.
Even the most qualified employees need to be nurtured. The most effective employers are the ones who are able to identify and grow the potential of their staff.
Are you just employing staff or are you actively working to build their potential? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
When was the last time you evaluated your staff?
Staff evaluations and progress reports can be a generic administration exercise… or they can be a brilliant opportunity to assess areas for learning and improvement. Which are they for you? If it’s the former, you may want to think about setting some time aside to genuinely consider how your staff are performing and what might be standing in the way of their development.
Have you invested financially in training your team?
Staff training can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. There can be a huge amount to gain from good quality training. Training investment could save you from having to employ a new person, as you may be able to train an existing employee to take on new responsibility.
Do you ever block out work time for professional development?
Potential-optimisation isn’t just about paying course fees. Professional development also happens in the workplace. This can be in the form of evaluation meetings, mentoring, team building sessions and staff forums.
Do you accept what is or do you set out to improve?
When your employees aren’t performing to the standard you expect them to, you have a number of options. You could seek to replace them, you could ignore your disappointment and accept the status quo… or you could support them to improve.
How confident are you when it comes to recognising potential?
Being able to recognise true potential in other people is a very useful skill. Not all of us have it, and you may need to be honest with yourself about whether you do. If you don’t, there are ways around it. You may want to develop your own skills in this area, or you could choose to work with a trusted professional to help assess your team.
Do you value one-to-one coaching with your team members?
When was the last time you sat down with each member of staff in turn and had a one-on-one conversation? This kind of communication can have a lot of value, and not just for staff development. You could also learn a lot from your employees! If this kind of relationship building isn’t your strength, there is plenty of professional coaching help available.
Are you building your own potential?
This last point is an important one. Are you working to optimise your own potential? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. All of us are works-in-progress and none of us should stand still when it comes to professional development. If you find it difficult to value your own potential, it’s likely that you’ll feel the same way about that of your employees.
If your answers to the above questions suggest that you’re not doing much potential-optimisation at the moment, it might be time to think about starting. When you support your team to develop their skills, you will indirectly be working to tend the future of your business. Once again: your business is only as good as the people in your team.
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