“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” Every great manager would agree with this piece of wisdom from advertising tycoon David Ogilvy—the number one thing they would love for all of their employees is to see them succeed and live up to their potential.
Cultivating top performers starts with focusing on the strengths of your talent and empowering them to spend time on what they enjoy most. We partnered with workplace culture expert Curt Coffman to develop innovative insights into how high performers arrive at loving what they do, and the progressive new reality of management and workplaces today.
Read on for a to-do list for managers looking to provide their employees with an actionable guide toward success.
Top Performers Love the Work, Not the Job
If you ask your best employees how they’ve reached success, you will probably hear something along the lines of “I love what I do.” How do people arrive at loving what they do? It typically occurs in this evolution:
- They learn the accompanying skills and steps very quickly and assimilate them naturally.
- Practice: A natural progression to daily improvement and impact.
- They find an activity that’s exhilarating and results in positive energy.
- Progression: Growth progresses in giant leaps, versus small gradual steps.
- Perfection: Full engagement in the work.
While it is possible for employees to discover their passions and achieve perfection on their own, most of the time it is up to managers to guide their coworkers down the path toward success by following the steps below:
Success Path Step #1: Turn the “Talent” into “Talented”
The best managers know that emphasizing culture fit throughout the hiring process instead of waiting until after employees join the team results in the right fit instead of the right fit for right now. With proper on-boarding and training, the “talent” can become the “talented.” Review your hiring criteria and consider how to assess candidates for personality fit and potential in tandem with skill set. Your department or organization may need to adjust your job postings to emphasize your unique workplace culture.
Success Path Step #2: Help Employees Discover Interests
“The most significant gift we can give to people is to help them discover the things they love to do,” says Curt Coffman, bestselling author and Chief Science Officer at The Coffman Organization. “Research shows that employees feel most successful when they spend a majority of their time doing the things they love. Of course, employees always have to do things that they don’t love (or even like) but being allowed to spend 60% of their time pursuing their passions leads to engagement and job satisfaction.”
The following suggestions can help managers design a success path for each employee so they can find their passion and reach their potential:
- “Clear a path” of static energy—those things that divert attention and interrupt natural flow—and set each person up for the evolution outlined earlier: (1) practice, (2) progress, and (3) perfection.
- Align employees’ jobs with what they love to do, and enable them to spend at least half of their time on their passions and interests.
- Challenge coworkers, inject variety, and provide learning opportunities. When engaged employees were asked why they love their job, the #1 answer was the challenge of their work.
- Uncover unique skills. Each employee has abilities that come naturally, but they probably don’t realize their unique gifts. They may need another person to point them out.
Success Path Step #3: Focus on the Energy of Engaged Employees
“Great managers focus on the energy of engaged employees before anyone else’s,” says Lisa Imler, Market Director for Roth Staffing Companies. “Cultivating top performers who are aligned with the workplace culture, invested in the organization’s success, and integral at boosting morale can take an organization much further than trying to ‘fix’ disengaged employees. Maximizing the positive impact of engaged employees can transform ‘passenger’ employees from apathetic to engaged, and already engaged employees into die-hard fans.”
Success Path Step #4: Recognize Achievement
Best Place to Work organizations and departments build recognition into their employees’ success path. For instance, the overwhelming majority promote practices like financial rewards and compassionate leadership and attention from management.
The New Reality of Management
With the Great Recession now over, it’s a talent-driven market. Candidates have more power and choice than ever, and workplaces and hiring managers must go to extra lengths to differentiate their organizations and appeal to the best talent. Even after enticing promising candidates to join the team, it’s up to managers to provide them a success path that transforms employees from good to great.
Some business leaders deny this reality and are resistant to change, thinking that their old ways/rules will always have a place and create a positive impact. Progressive business leaders, on the other hand, embrace the new reality of management and translate it into a competitive advantage for their workplace. Only one question remains: which type of leader will you be for your talent?
To view and download the PDF version of the white paper in its entirety, please click on your business line below:
Sources: Curt Coffman, The Coffman Organization, Gallup, Harvard Business Review