We hear the phrase “set up for success” a lot. Usually, within a larger phrase, like “Are you setting yourself up for success”? And when I hear it in this context, I generally think of it in terms of the self-help world… am I watching what I eat, getting enough sleep, exercising; all the way to do I have a plan, am I setting goals, do I communicate effectively, and even is this the best presentation I can come up with. It’s personal and unique to me.
But, when I think about setting myself up for success, the topic is vast and at times overwhelming because it is so. And I’ve learned that this is OK. I won’t get to address them all every day, but I will get to them all as I need to, based on what’s going on in my life at the time, because life happens to me every day.
When I turn the phrase to “Am I setting my employees up for success?”, it gets much easier for me. Now, I only think of it as do they have the tools they need to get the job done. I like to keep my favorite “you’re so dumb” idiom in mind when it comes to thinking about my employees and setting them up for success… “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”. Because it makes me realize that all I need to do is give them a whetstone!
Those tools might be hammers and saws, or computers and phones, but they’re also programs and systems and processes and some form of customer service. And yes, this all comes with a certain amount of training, so they understand not only the how, but many times the why we use all these tools we use. Giving an employee these types of tools is easy to do, even if it comes with the training aspect attached.
When we hire an employee, we expect they have the ability to do the job, which we gather from their application, resume and interview. They come to us with the tools that are the building blocks we’re looking for. Next, we give them our tools… we train them on our systems and processes and explain why we do the things we do. We want to instill our company culture in them, so they know who we are and what we do. Which leads to giving them the responsibility for a set of tasks, aka, their job.
Many business owners will stop at this point with their employees and later wonder why they can’t retain good people. And that is because they did not take the next step, which is to give the employee the authority to carry out their responsibilities. Without the ability to make decisions on the employer’s behalf, within the parameters you establish, an employee will never totally “buy-in” to their job or the company. They will always feel as if they’re just going through the motions and collecting a paycheck. It’s this authority that will free them up to be creative problem solvers, team thinkers and to know and feel they are contributing to the company.
Finally, they need to know they are accountable for their job. They need to know that there are rewards and consequences for meeting the goals and objectives you establish. And through accountability, they get a feeling of ownership for both their job and the company which also empowers them to meet both their personal and professional goals.
Setting our employees up for success must contain all these elements. When we do this, positive progress and growth happen’s for both the company and the employee.
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