Much has been written on how to get the best out of people. Too often, however, employees do not have a good enough incentive to actually give their best. Reasons to work harder are often couched in boosting the bottom line benefits which are far removed from the employees’ own interests, or yours as an HR professional.

Give to get

But what if the chief advantage was actually a benefit to you personally, rather than your organisation, or even someone else? Imagine: lower stress, a trusting team, and a virtually constant sense that you are making the world a better place and making positive difference to the lives of others. All of this can come from the act of giving – with the rewards coming back to you. The bottom line is also likely to see a tangible positive improvement.

Here are some things you can give to help people flourish, and also motivate you to give your best.

1. Give plenty of leeway

A fine line must be drawn between abandoning people to their folly and smothering them – giving nothing is just as damaging as giving everything. When people are being coddled too much, they rarely get out of their comfort zone or enter into new learning areas. Instead, the happy medium comes about through acceptance that part of any worthwhile learning involves self-discovery, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes.

Giving people the space to make errors carries with it implicit trust. It shows that you believe they can succeed. Employees also feel supported and that they can own their successes. As a result, they give their best without fear of reprisal.

2. Give opportunities

Allowing people to practice a skill is all very well, but sooner or later you have to let them drive on the road. For this to be effective, you should be ready to take the backseat and let the newcomer take the lead – they have the skill, now they must have the opportunity to gain experience.

Do not underestimate how great an activity is when first learned – everything is easy once you can do it. So give opportunities for even the smallest tasks. This builds trust and confidence in small steps, without the high risk that a major activity may demand.

3. Give resources

Giving resources for people to perform the activities you expect of them is, of course, reasonable. Your support and encouragement, however, are also needed – and are unlikely to show up on a cost estimate.

Support can come in many forms. For these purposes, one of the most helpful is to provide access to your experience through methodologies and tools which are not part of a standard kit – so-called ‘tricks of the trade’.

Consider yourself a resource. Giving your time, knowledge, and willingness to help others succeed will benefit the novice in terms of gaining trust. It’s rewarding for you too. Naturally, giving time is not always easy – instead, think of it as integrating the new person into your professional life.

4. Give people the big picture

Having a vision is one of the best ways to motivate people. This is especially true when the activity at hand is menial or mundane. A vision shows people where they and their activities fit into the greater scheme of things, and how they are making the world around them a better place. If they become stuck, the vision can at least give them some idea of the shape of the piece they are creating.

So by the simple act of giving, you can get a lot more in return.

What have you given, and how have you and your organisation benefitted from giving?

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Written by Robert Potter, communication skills and business language trainer, Robert Potter Training

I observe, challenge, and help, being keen to share my insights gleaned from many years’ experience in the training, business soft skills, language, and communications area. I operate across cultures with people from various professional backgrounds to work through their communication issues.

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