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Behind every successful business is a team of people – talented individuals who make the gears turn and the whole thing move forward. But as a manager, how do you inspire greatness in those around you? That is to say, how do you take someone who does “good” work and turn them into someone who does “great” work?

Command & Control

About Being ConnectedThe old way of trying to promote greatness was to regulate and impose. Managers asked for daily work reports and did a lot of accountability enforcement, laying down metrics and setting the bar ever-higher. Some employees respond very well to these kinds of challenges, benchmarks and associated incentives. They do well when they have deadlines and goals to reach for.

But while this can generate results in some cases, other times increases in productivity and achievement come at the expense of relationships, employee happiness and even team retention.  Keeping your team over time is just as important as helping them continue to succeed.

Coaching & Mentorship

More recently, businesses have turned to coaching and mentorship, trying to help every individual employee “do their own thing”. But like the previous option, while giving breathing room and freedom to employees can spark greatness, other times it inspires laziness or can even make people feel helpless, as though they’ve been left to their own devices. Total control may not be the solution – but the alternative may throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There’s No Magic Formula!

Management expert Ken Blanchard has talked about this subject extensively in his management material. The conclusion that he has come to is simply this: It depends on the employee.

For inexperienced staff members, you really need to have day plans, week plans and clear objectives. There have to be concrete items that the employee can reach for, complete with the support to help them get there. As that staff member gains experience, you can begin to give them more autonomy to let their expertise innovate and guide their advancement. This is where you can give them space to figure things out on their own; they have the confidence to know that they’re capable of. Monthly check-ins become a time of reflecting, connecting and planning for the future instead of daily or weekly hand-holding and guidance.

The Individual Approach

Ken’s advice is worth heeding, and is what we recommend. As you try to manage your team from good to great, see them as individuals with varying needs and experience levels. Know when to taper your involvement, and when to step in and monitor more closely. But no matter what, always give your people the proper value! They’re the force that drives your business.

See our video on this topic by clicking here (new window).

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