“A superior leader is a person who can bring ordinary people together to achieve extraordinary results.” Many years ago, an entrepreneur told me that. He was right.
For most organizations, hiring the best talent is not a viable business strategy. The only way to get the best is to pay more than your competitors, and few companies are willing or able to do this.
A far better strategy is to hire decent, hardworking people and bring out the best in them. Here’s how to do it:
1. Recognize that each employee is unique: People are not machines; most of us don’t fit into neat little boxes. If you look around your team and see similar-looking and acting people, it probably means people have been forced into boxes that are limiting their performance.
Not everyone is motivated by money or power. Not every team member gets excited by hitting the monthly budget, or by closing another deal. To bring out the best in each employee, you have to acknowledge this reality. Most organizations don’t have the energy or initiative to do this, which is why they end up with barely ordinary performance levels.
2. Have a purpose beyond money: I’m a realist, and know that people primarily work to earn a living. But people work harder, longer and better when they see the purpose behind their work.
Every organization and group is different, so there are no pat answers… but there are lame ones to avoid at all costs. Don’t just paste a nice-sounding purpose onto the edge of your group, as in, “One cent from every order will be donated to feed whales.”
The purpose you employ should be woven into the fabric of your organization. It must be substantive and meaningful.
3. Turn down the volume: The loudest voices in an organization aren’t always the wisest ones. In fact, they sometimes lead companies right off the edge of a cliff. Make it possible for people to contribute in many ways: privately as well as publicly, in written form as well as speaking at a meeting.
In other words, magnify the quietest voices, and turn the loudest ones down a few notches.
4. Stop making people imitate their boss: Weak leaders want their subordinates to act like them; such leaders lack the imagination – or strength – to recognize that there are many paths to success.
If you run a sales team, everyone doesn’t have to sell like you do.
If you manage a group of consultants, each one doesn’t have to dress and talk like you do.
Give your people the freedom to be the best version of themselves, rather than a pale version of you.
5. Treat your people like adults: I occasionally participate in an organization that employs accomplished professionals as temporary part-time workers; the organization treats these professionals like children, and it always amazes me how quickly the professionals start acting that way. These are doctors, lawyers, and executives. Many manage multi-million dollar budgets. But they all get the message: “management” doesn’t trust us.
People rise – or sink – to meet your expectations, so raise your expectations, and always treat your team members with the ultimate respect.
6. Be loyal in good times and bad: There is no loyalty any more, some say. I say this is nonsense. The more loyalty you show your employees, the more they will show your organization. An employer holds the power, so an employer must take the first step to building a loyal relationship.
Most companies don’t understand loyalty, which is why those that do possess an unfair advantage.
7. Be clear and consistent: Many companies operate with the same techniques that scientists use to drive lab mice insane: they set impossibly contradictory goals. They ask for one sort of behavior, but reward another. They plea for excellence, but operate with sub-par tools and systems.
Put your compensation systems in synch with your goals. Give your employees the right tools, and give them the freedom to keep customers happy. Above all, don’t change your strategy every other quarter. Pick a strategy, and stick to it.
Bring out the best in each employee, and you will bring out the best in your company.
This article was written by Bruce Kasanoff (ghostwrites and edits articles for entrepreneurs) from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, your workspace to find and hire great people.