Three steps to support your employees to reach their full potential

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Want to learn more about how to inspire your team to bring their full potential to work? We've partnered with the author for a free webinar on February 8. Click here for more information and registration details.

You hire employees with optimistic hopes. You see so much possibility and you are excited to do your part by helping them grow into their full potential. The first little bit they are right alongside you, eager to put in the extra effort to learn. They are keen to impress you with their abilities. Then, gradually or, in some cases, pretty fast, you lose them. They do just enough to get by. They seem sluggish, indifferent or have become the rotten tomato of the bunch, leaving you wondering if they’ve been replaced by their evil twin.

But back up a minute. You really did see that potential. And in truth, the employee did feel it too. It’s not gone. The connection to what they truly could grow into just got covered over by the dust of day-to-day business. To rekindle that vision and passion for growth and potential, you need to intentionally reconnect to it, awaken it in the employee and keep it alive by checking in regularly.

3 steps to reconnect employees to their potential

1. Reconnect to your vision of what you believe the employee is capable of

It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong. We can point out failures, faults and flaws pretty quickly! To shift our attention to what is currently going well or has the possibility of being developed takes work. Put the effort in. It’s worth it!

Take five minutes for each of your direct reports and write down the answers these questions:

  • What did I see as this person’s potential when they started?
  • If this person were using their full potential now, what would they be doing differently?
  • What would be different on the team if this person were using their full potential?
  • What could you or the team do more of or differently to support this person to reach their full potential?

2. Awakening the employee to their vision of their full potential

It isn’t that employees don’t care. What can happen as we get wrapped up in the day-to-day work is that an employee can begin to feel as though no one else cares, so why should they bother? We don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to just work hard, be kind and remain loyal. But the truth is, not everyone is wired so strongly by intrinsic motivation. You can however, awaken their internal motives by getting curious with them and exploring what it is that does drive them.

Take a few minutes with each of your direct reports and explore these questions:

  • If you were using your full potential now, what would you be doing differently?
  • What would be different on the team if you were using your full potential?
  • What skills or additional training would help you to reach your potential?
  • What can your team or I do to help you to achieve your full potential?

3. Keep it alive by reconnecting regularly

Encouraging employees to actively work to reach their full potential is not a duty done only when you complete their annual review. Nor is it the thing you drive home when they’ve messed up. Reawakening a team member’s potential isn’t even something that you merely complete at your supervision meetings. Reconnecting employees to their potential is an ongoing job of a leader.

Keeping employees connected to their full potential is something the most effective leaders do every single day. Don’t worry though; it’s not as if you must mark a task on your daily to-do list: “Reconnected John to his potential.” Rather you demonstrate it daily by reaching for YOUR potential each day.

As you grow yourself into your full potential as a leader, you will strengthen your ability to inspire, motivate, coach and mentor your employees.

  • Some days you will stretch outside of your comfort zone, taking on a new project that can make a dramatic impact on your clients. Your actions may inspire your employees to also step outside of their comfort zone into their zone of potential.
  • When you offer an employee the opportunity to take offsite training that is key for their development, you may motivate them with the incentive of a mini break from the day-to-day grind by going to a stunning retreat center for the session.
  • By asking an employee what solutions they’ve considered before offering your own, you are coaching them to develop critical thinking skills necessary for their next career steps.
  • While telling your team supervisor a story about a time you addressed a conflict that went all wrong, and what you learned from that disastrous experience, you are mentoring them. Your wisdom serves as guidance for their next decision.

An employee’s full potential has a lot to do with the type of person they are becoming along with the skills and talents they want to cultivate. You awaken that desire in your employee when you first reconnect to it yourself. Take the time to create a habit reminding yourself of your employees potential. Next, have conversations with your team members regarding what they are learning, what skills they are developing and what traits they are working on. This helps to keep that vision of their potential alive in them. Finally, by stretching yourself to reach your full potential as a leader, you role model it for your team. Showing your team the way, is a what truly amazing leaders get really good at. If you want to see it in them, do it yourself!

Want to learn more about how to inspire your team to bring their full potential to work? We've partnered with the author for a free webinar on February 8. Click here for more information and registration details.

Leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead. In Kathy’s Archer’s online courses and leadership coaching sessions, she teaches leaders the inner and outer tools to restore their lost confidence so they can move from surviving to thriving in both leadership and life.

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