Lead Employees and Drive Business Results

Deneen Grant and I have had several discussions on the topic of People Development. She recently wrote the following piece on LinkedIn that I appreciate and wanted to share.

Over my lengthy career, I have consistently been disappointed by the lack of focus and importance placed on the people side of the business. There is little energy and time spent on the development and management of employees. In one particular survey, data shows that over 80% of CEO’s, COO’s and CHRO’s surveyed recognized that “people” and retention of top talent are huge priorities, however, only25% proactively addressed it.

CEO’s, Senior Leaders and Management teams are consistently held accountable for sales results, financial performance, operational excellence, product innovation, and customer service. For some reason, these same leaders believe they can meet the company’s strategic goals without an investment in the people who make it all happen. Why is there a disconnect between business profitability and the people who create profit?

Leaders have a responsibility to create an environment where employees are able to drive corporate success. So how do you do it? It’s simple, but not easy. Let’s examine the most important factors:

Live the Mission and Values – Organizations need to answer some key questions: What do we do? Why do we do it? What are the immediate and long-term goals? What are the non-negotiables? How do we behave? The answers to these questions should be communicated to every employee. Everything that happens with employees (i.e. hiring, training, promotion, compensation, termination, performance measurement) should have a tie back to the mission and core values of the company. To lead employees, you must be aligned and in support of the mission, and you must model the values. Employees can spot a leadership hypocrite a mile away – don’t spout mission and values without living them!

Hire People for Fit – This will probably shock a lot of readers (given my HR background), but you don’t have to hire the most qualified person for a position. Of course the individual should be at least minimally qualified, but beyond that you are looking for the best fit. Refer back to the mission and values of the company, and interview intentionally for cultural fit.

Be Clear – For employees to contribute to your company’s success, they must be clear about what’s expected of them. You must clearly communicate position responsibilities, performance expectations and goals. Employees should understand how their position contributes to the success of the department and organization. Provide feedback often, and hold employees accountable for results.

Grow and Develop Your Team- Surveys show that one of the most important factors for employee retention is the opportunity for career growth. Employees need to understand how they can progress in the company, and you as their leader should become their career coach. An employee who grows becomes the employee who innovates, creates, collaborates and produces. They also stay with the company longer, because they are grateful for your investment in their success. People drive everything in an organization – so you must take great pains to ensure they maintain and grow their skills and experience. Fight the urge to cut the training and development budget – you cannot afford to neglect the growth and development of your only competitive advantage.

It’s time for the CEO’s, Senior Leaders and Managers to make the connection – a company will not reach its full potential unless employees reach their full potential. I’m encouraging you to step up to the challenge. Trust me, it will be good for business!

Deneen Grant is a Leadership Strategist, Culture Expert, and founder of Progressive Leadership Group. Progressive Leadership Group partners with CEOs, Owners, and Senior Executives to put the Right Leaders, in the Right Roles, with the Right Skills – creating a thriving and profitable company.

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