How to get the most from your people

As business’s continue strive for productivity dividends; having reaped all they can from ‘the low hanging fruit’, leaders are increasingly asking themselves, ‘how do we get better outcomes from the same resources?’

There will always be new technology that promises to increase productivity, reduce timeframes and potentially remove the necessity to interact with a human to get whatever job it is that you want done, done.

There will undoubtedly be a significant up front financial investment and the roll out may take months, particularly if you require that critical ‘something’ that requires a bespoke solution.

There could still be a dysfunctional process embedded in the darkest corners of your organization: the one that requires five individuals, a business case and six signatures, the one that could be completely replaced by a Google search and an online form, (I would hope however, that this would have been addressed in the aforementioned ‘low hanging fruit’ section).

I would hazard a guess that very few leaders have fully explored the potential that may be sitting right under their noses, their people.

Many studies can demonstrate how effective leadership can increase productivity in people. So here is my number one tip to get the most from your staff, it worked for me:

Empower them.

One of the first lessons I learned on my leadership journey was to set the vision, then delegate everything except the power to delegate. Decisions and innovations are invariably of higher quality when they are made close to where the action is.

It is obvious really: let’s take something simple, like a process.

High performing individuals who run a recruitment process, understand the potential efficiencies and innovations that could be gained by improving it, these individuals, are surely best placed make such improvements happen.

Provided a change in process does not result in unintended consequences elsewhere in the business, the delegation to approve the new process should be made by the manager of that recruitment team.

If there is a wider impact on the business, then obviously the decision moves up the chain, but the recruitment manager must remain part of the decision making process.

This requires high degrees of trust that individuals and teams will deliver outcomes in line with the organization’s well-articulated vision, not to mention a maturity of team dynamics.

Empowering high performing individuals to make decisions take risks and do something different, then ‘backing them in’, will result in a workforce that is empowered, resilient and ultimately performs above and beyond the expectations you have of them and they have of themselves.

Maintaining a level of visibility until such time as you and your team have reached a level of trust may be a wise step, particularly if empowering individuals and teams to this extent is new for you.

Take heed however, with great power comes great responsibility; the empowered individual also must be the accountable individual.

I am not suggesting that if an innovation or a change fails, people are hauled in front of the board of directors, (in fact I would advocate that if this is your first foray into empowering and holding to account that you start small!) however, they must be prepared to explain why they made the decisions they have.

If nothing else this will ensure that empowered decision makers cover all possible angles prior to making a decision!

I believe that if you empower your people, you will not only find that you get more from them, but that your business will become more agile and ultimately a place known for innovation and growth.

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