Don't waste capabilities or intelligence of employees
Hiring and retaining the right talent are two of the most important decisions in business
Hiring and retaining the right talent are two of the most important decisions in business. This is further amplified in an SME (small and medium enterprise) as roles are often less defined and usually an ‘all hands to the pump' philosophy prevails.
Hiring the right people in the organisation is not enough if you are not able to access all of their capabilities and intelligence. Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter discovered the common behaviours of leaders that shut down the thinking in employees.
These include the smallest of assumptions that usually go unnoticed as teams are built and managed. Many of these restrict contributions from employees and result in the lack of innovation and productivity, low energy and even lead to fear and complete inaction.
SME entrepreneurs are more susceptible to these accidental diminishing traits as the very qualities that help them to succeed in business are competitive spirit, strength of opinion, constant idea generation and oodles of passion
However, many entrepreneurs tend to believe that the real thinking always remains with them. This leads to founders often wasting away the intelligence of their teams, which results in decision-making bottlenecks, slower growth and often a high turnover of highly capable staff.
There are some simple, yet potent, changes that leaders need to make to their behaviour to fully access the intelligence of their teams.
Spot the native genius
Analyse team members.
Research into Multipliers and its implementation in the UAE prove that leaders are leaving latent talent on the table that is paid for, but is not being accessed. To access this, leaders need to study what each team member can do best and find a way to put this native genius to work for their SME.
Give space to think
Business owners probably know how to do everything instantly or just have an abundance of ideas on the way forward. If employees are to learn and grow, you need to learn how to ask questions rather than provide all the answers.
When faced with an issue or a problem, you may be naturally inclined to share ideas first instead of just introducing the issue and asking the team for a solution. But remember to make your expectations clear.
Ask the team to solve difficult problems
Identify the biggest challenges and rather than try to solve them yourself, get your team involved. Give them a challenge that you believe is solvable, but may not even know the answer to.
Present the challenge as an intriguing puzzle that people want to solve. As these challenges are like exploring the unknown, motivate your team by communicating your belief in them. Make them feel safe enough to discover, experiment and even fail in the pursuit of the prize.
Involve people early and then expect rapid execution
Too many big decisions in SMEs are taken by a handful of team members or by the founder alone. When communicated to the rest of the staff for execution, founders are often faced with sluggish responses and resistance to change.
The Multipliers research highlights the use of rigorous debate as a way to garner ‘weigh in' rather than battle with ‘buy in'. Employees should be encouraged to debate decisions that may result in complex change, sharing their thoughts supported by existing data and evidence.
While the final decision may still rest in the hands of the owner, conveying all the facts will help employees to understand the pros and cons of the alternatives available and allows an informed decision to be made. The expectation from employees is then rapid execution of the solution.
Hold people accountable
Sometimes it is just easier to take ownership of a project or piece of work if results are not matching your expectations. The temptation to step in and rescue an employee out of their depth is overwhelming.
However, if we never let people step outside of their comfort zone, they will never learn. Entrepreneurs are the masters of risk, yet they find it hard to transfer this to the rest of the team.
Of course, you need to be careful that you don't set someone up for an unrealistic goal.
Your role as an SME leader is to invest time and thinking into team members using the above five tactics to get them delivering more for your company.