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How to truly value your people and increase their engagement

“Your competitive edge has to be your people.” Justin Herald

After this statement, Herald was actually talking about customer service and how important it is to create a great experience for your customers in order to stand out with your business.

But what we might overlook at talks like that is the importance to equip and develop our people – the ones that look after our customers and create those great experiences.

We expect our people to value the customer and provide excellent service or sell outstanding products. But do we truly value our people? Not just for what they do but for who they are?

Going a step further, we expect our people to value their work, their employer, their leaders – not just because of the pay check. Don’t we?

We want our people to engage in our business. At least, that what I hear managers complain about. ‘The staff just don’t care about this business.’ ‘They could really show some more ownership.’

Now, let me ask you a few reflective questions…be honest to yourself!

When was the last time you have listened to, considered, or enacted a suggestion from one of your people?

When was the last time you asked your people how they are going working for you? What do they like about it, what could be improved?

When was the last time you asked your people’s input on a decision that you’ll need to make?

When was the last time you acknowledged your people’s work? What are 3 things they have done well recently?

When was the last time you celebrated someone’s birthday, engagement, graduation, wedding?

When was the last time you gave someone a day off to sort out what they are going through?

All these things show your people that you truly value them. Put them on your to-do-list if you have not already.

I see three problems that hold us back from creating an environment where people truly feel valued and WANT to be committed to:

  1. Lack of trust. Trust is the currency of any relationship.
    It is hard to admit, but when we don’t trust our people’s intentions, capacity and competence, we are unlikely to hear their suggestions or give them more authority (which they need to show more ownership). There are different ways to develop genuine yet not blind trust. Maybe it is time to let go of something you cling to and trust one of your team members with. Choose wisely, of course.
  2. Lack of appreciation. Appreciation is the bread and butter of any relationship.
    This one is hard to admit too. Of course, we appreciate our people! But do they know that? If you know anything about healthy marriages, you would know that you cannot just tell your spouse that you love and respect them once per year. There are many ways to show and perceive appreciation. No one hits them all, unfortunately.
  3. Lack of confidence. Confidence is the fuel of any relationship.
    Firstly, we need to be confident in ourselves in order to trust and appreciate our people. If we get easily offended, struggle to give genuine positive feedback, or don’t want to come across as less than perfect, that shows that we lack confidence in our flawed self. None of us is perfect or has it all together. Asking for feedback, pointing out positive attributes in others that might be better than ours, or admitting that we have made a mistake, should be seen as strength, not weakness. Only then, we can build confidence in our people to achieve what they are meant to.

These challenges are actually quite common, especially for leaders that are starting out in leadership, either in a new role or by growing their business and the need to hire staff.

Make sure you invest in your ‘competitive edge’ / ‘your most important asset’ / ‘your most important resource’ – your people!

Building trust, showing appreciation and developing confidence need to be our top priorities.

You can start by “Becoming the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” (Brian Tracy)

Happy Friday!


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