Even if you start your business with no employees, it’s highly likely that, at some point, you’ll hire some. This is something you’ll need to do if you want your business to grow, as you won’t be able to continue to do things all by yourself. And once you have, you will want to maximise your employees' potential for their benefit and for the benefit of your business.
You need to think of your employees as an investment rather than an expense. However, in order for your employees to be a true investment, you need to do all you can to maximise their potential. This can be a challenge, but a good boss will be able to do this to help both the worker and the business. With that in mind, here are some ways you can maximise your employees’ potential for everyone’s benefit.
Some employers become worried that if they offer too many opportunities for growth - or even any at all - to their employees, those same employees will take that opportunity and then find a job elsewhere using their new-found skills and qualifications.
It’s true that there will always be a risk that this will happen, but that’s no reason not to let your employees take the opportunities for growth that they need. This could be going to classes and needing time off to do so, or it might be additional training, for example. It might even be allowing your team members to do work that isn’t in their remit but that they are interested in.
The important thing to remember is that if you want your employees to use their new skills to benefit your business and not someone else’s, you need to ensure their working conditions are comfortable and that you offer them plenty in terms of rewards (financial and otherwise). In this way, they’ll be happier to stay with you, and your investment is safer.
The work-life balance is something more and more people are starting to understand, and it’s something that all employees should be able to have. It means being able to leave work at the office (even if that office is at home) and enjoy personal time without work encroaching. It means getting less stressed and overwhelmed, and there is also less chance of burnout.
Most of the time, it is an employer who will cause issues with the work-life balance by asking their staff to work for longer or giving them unrealistic deadlines to meet. Therefore, it’s important that you don’t do this and that you know when people are at work and when they are not - don’t expect people to read their emails when they are off, for example, and certainly don’t expect a reply from anyone who is not officially working.
However, in some cases it can be the employee who effectively sabotages their own work-life balance by taking on a lot of overtime or working later than they should. As a boss, it’s important to deal with this and prevent it where you can. One way to do this is to have rules in place that make it fair for everyone. Looking at time clock rules for hourly employees is a good place to start.
When you are able to help with an employee’s work-life balance, they will be happier, less stressed, and less prone to sickness, meaning they can more easily maximise their potential by being more productive and focused on their work.
If you truly want to maximise the potential of your employees, one good way to do this would be to provide opportunities for leadership. This can come in many forms, including giving them the lead on a project, offering them the chance to talk at a conference, or perhaps asking them to mentor a junior colleague.
No matter how you do it, when you provide opportunities for leadership, your employees’ potential can be met. Not only will they have to step up to do the work you’ve asked them to do, but they’ll also know you see some potential in them, otherwise you wouldn’t have asked them to take on the task. This will encourage them to keep trying and learning, therefore improving their potential even further.
This will also help you. As a business owner, it’s tempting to try to do everything yourself, but this will lead to problems because you might end up missing deadlines, upsetting customers, or offering substandard products and services. When you have employees, make the most of them and delegate the tasks you need to. You’ll have more time to focus on the business, and they will be able to realise their potential much sooner.
It’s one thing to ask your team to do the work you want and need them to do, and it’s great to ask them to take the lead on various projects or take some of your work off your hands. This will certainly allow them to maximise their potential. However, they might not be able to go as far as you would hope (and they would hope) if they don’t have the right tools to work with.
When you are an employee, it’s vital that you spend some of your time and money finding the right tools for each person to do their job properly. This could be physical tools and machinery, it could be training and knowledge, or it could be the latest software. Whatever it is they need, make sure they have it, otherwise they will either not be able to do the work at all, or they’ll have to use tools that just aren’t fit for purpose and, therefore, won’t give the best results (not to mention the fact that they could be dangerous).
If you don’t know what your team needs, ask them. They are the ones who will definitely know what tools are required, and even if you’re the boss, if you don’t do the same kind of work as your team members, they are always going to be the best people to ask. Get them what they need, and their work will become better, they’ll grow in confidence, and you'll maximise your employees' full potential.