I often hear from the leaders I work with about what a great team they have. I have no doubt that you may also feel the same about those who report to you. However, we seem to be hard wired to think in terms of showering money at our employees to show them that we value them (and to keep them from leaving). While money is fine, there are lots of other ways that you can show your best people that you value them. Most of the things you can do to show that you value your staff also have a great flip side; they can help them to learn and develop.
Consider the following:
Delegate to them: Too many leaders fear delegating to their best people because “they already have too much to do”. Yet delegation of meaningful work is a way of showing someone that you trust them to complete it well.
Let them lead in your absence: Your top employees would be honored to “step in” so that you can travel or go on a vacation. It’s a great way for them to get a better view of what’s entailed in leading at your level in the organization (and great development for them too).
Encourage them to take a temporary assignment: Whether the assignment is in another country or another building, a temporary assignment helps your employees to grow in knowledge and skills. Learning how other parts of the company work can also build their leadership agility.
Lead a project or committee: Get them involved in projects that are not directly related to their organization’s business, often in support areas like HR or IT. Many or most consider it an honor, and a way to learn more about how these operations work.
Stretch them in their current work: How can your most able employees be stretched? Give them a challenge by shortening deadlines, taking on an employee that needs to be mentored or doing something new that will benefit your organization that they’ve never done before.
Ask them to attend a conference: Attending a conference in their area of expertise or in an area you’d like them (and the rest of your team) to learn more about is a way to show them you’ll value what they learn. Ask them to further their learning by making a presentation to your team about their “greatest take-aways” from the conference so everyone can learn something.
Coach them: Many of your best employees wish they could have more coaching from you. It can go a long way toward helping them to see themselves the way others do, to know more about the developmental opportunities available to them, and to help them to become a better leader.
Hire a coach for them: My clients tell me that they believe the ability to work with an external executive coach was their manager’s way of showing how much they are valued. And let’s face it – there are certain confidential conversations that someone can have with an experienced outsider that they can’t have with the boss.
Tell them: An often overlooked gesture, telling your staff specifically what you value in them is important. Seemingly small things are fair game to be called out – always on time for meetings, or making deadlines. “Thank you” isn’t enough. Instead, fill in the blanks of ” I value xxxx about you because xxx”. Better yet, a handwritten note sent by you can mean a lot.
Promote them: If you have career ladders in your company, it might be time to promote those you value. Look around, and consider who your best are. Are any of them ready for a promotion on the career ladder? Alternatively, promote them to other leaders who have openings that your best employees are qualified and ready for.
Your best employees may be wondering if they are valued. Let them know in every way you can!