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2 Things to Keep Your Best Employees Going

Do you remember when you got your first job? You were excited to join the grown-up world and work your hardest. And there was always that one older person who had been there for approximately 75 years, who had seen it all, tried it all, and declared all your innovative ideas dead on arrival. Remember?

How do you stop your team from becoming that cynical, bare-minimum contributor? Here are two things that will keep them inspired.

1) Invest in Expertise

There’s a pride that comes from being the best in your field, even if it’s just within your own organization. Back in 2005, I was the first one in my agency to start looking at the field of telemedicine. I was on the phone with an industry leader who asked me, “So, you’re the telemedicine expert at the U.S. Commercial Service?” I quickly demurred, and assured him I certainly wasn’t an expert. “But you know more about it than anyone else there?” Well, yes. That was true. “So you’re the expert then. Don’t be afraid to claim it.”

Owning that label created a mental shift for me. Since I was the expert, I really should know more. I began educating myself, my colleagues, and my clients on how to help telemedicine companies expand internationally. I accepted speaking roles – after all, I was an expert! And in preparing for them, I learned even more.

That expertise created an energy that drove innovation, excitement, and enthusiasm. Having that expertise recognized developed a professionalism and dedication that drove results.

Many organizations have employees that have topped out in pay or advancement levels. Investing in new areas of expertise can create pathways for recognized knowledge and technical interest. This can be more motivating than money, and keep your team engaged.

2) Create Ownership

If you expect the best quality, allow those closest to the project to make the critical decisions. Ask the project lead to present to your senior leaders, and get the positive feedback. Allow them to have the spotlight in front of coworkers and clients. With true ownership of a project, an employee will tie their reputation to its success. They will go above and beyond to ensure the project works because it’s theirs.

Micromanaging, lack of public acknowledgment, and taking the credit is the fastest way to create disengaged employees. The work might get done, but you’ll kill the incentive for genius.

There are always exceptions when a manager needs to step in and provide clear redirection or take on a major presentation, but keep those to the critical necessities. Allowing your team to into leadership roles is the best way to grow their leadership thinking.

These two simple things will generate excitement and momentum in your team. I promise you, they have massive reserves of untapped potential. By creating a path for expertise and ownership, you’ll ignite their best thinking, strongest effort, and innovative solutions.

By the way, I’ve seen those tired employees get re-energized, even at the very end of their career. It’s possible. Don’t give up.

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