My Grandson is 2 ½ years old and his job, as with every 2 ½-year-old, is to learn and master skills. Each week when I visit him, I see he has learned something new. Words with a lot of syllables in the same sentence. Catch a ball (sort of). Read (memorize) a book. Run AND jump. As a proud Gum Gum–the name he chose for me instead of Grandma—I want to step in when I think he might trip, fall, make a mistake, or choose something that won’t produce his desired outcome. BUT how can he learn and master skills if I don’t give him the opportunities he needs?
Employees are the same. Employees are motivated when they have opportunities to learn and master the skills needed to do their job. Relative to Self-Determination Theory (which is what I’m talking about here), this is called competence.
3 WAYS TO PROMOTE COMPETENCE
Remove Obstacles. Most employees want to perform well. A lack of resources can get in the way of this. Before you say, “There isn’t any more money in the budget”, “We’re all expected to do more with less right now”, or “I’m too busy”, let me ask you this – what will this get you? Let me be straight with you – at best, it will get you unhappy and unproductive employees. Even worse, demotivated or burned-out employees who will leave your organization when they have the chance. Leaders, you are at a crossroad. One road is to continue as you are on and expect the worst. The second road requires you to clear the rocks, mud, and debris to give your employees the opportunity to perform well. It’s not all about the almighty dollar either. YOU dear leader are a resource. Make yourself available. Be accessible.
Coach Instead of Direct. Leaders, you are busy, overloaded, overwhelmed, treading water – use whatever descriptor you need here. I see it, and I hear it. I also know that when people are tapped out, their default behavior is often control, command, demand, or disappear. You know, the kind of stuff missing-in-action or autocratic leaders and micromanagers are made of. Does this sound like you? In my book, G Factor: 8 Secrets to Increasing Your Gravitational Pull at Work, employees say coaching instead of directing is the fourth highest characteristic that makes them trust you and want to work for you. It’s called Guide G Factor. Employees want you to trust them to do good work. They just need some direction, support, and resources (see above).
Provide Professional Development. This is where I come in. This is what I specialize in: helping individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations be better through professional development. Give your employees the opportunity to learn and grow. Right now, one of the MOST common struggles I hear over and over and over and read about is OVERWHELM (see above). As I mentioned in last week’s article, there is a speeding train headed toward and your employees just might be on it. I can help with that. I can teach your employees tools and techniques to make the chaos and overload more manageable. Let’s give everyone a chance to catch their breath.
- Ask your employees what specific resources would make doing their work easier.
- Problem solve how to get him/her/them the resources needed. (I know, it isn’t easy; get creative. Problem solve WITH them.)
- Do less telling and more asking.
- Ask your employees to list their top three professional development needs.
- Send me an email. If I can’t help, I will find someone who can!
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