Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

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As CEO, being the chief inspiration officer can be a lonely job. Especially if you feel you’re the only one doing the inspiring. But what if the inspiration bubbled up from the ranks? What if your employees were so excited and so motived and engaged, their spirit to win transformed your business?

True engagement is contagious. Your employees can’t be told to feel excited. People and teams are passionate when they feel their ideas, commitment and relationships they’ve formed in the greater workplace community are valued, and that their efforts count.

Getting your employees motivated about their jobs is not easy. But there are some things you can do to help re-engage employees’ sense of purpose and improve productivity. One way to do that is to promote from within.

A rising tide of knowledge lifts all boats.

Just as your rise to the top often relied on others helping you, your employees’ ability to grow in their roles depends on others helping them. In other words, it is a competitive advantage to work for a company where upward mobility is part of the culture and where continuous learning, and performance improvement, occurs at all levels. When your employees work together to advance the knowledge of the whole team, your company will always have a pipeline of people prepared to step up.

Helping your employees move up the ladder is good for morale and good for business. Employees that are performing and competing to get ahead drive your business forward. You don’t have to push them. All you have to do is manage it.

How to groom your company’s pipeline.
  1. Link training to your company’s overall strategy.
  2. Make career pathing and pipeline management part of your core values.
  3. Identify organizational obstacles to successful learning and remove them.
  4. Provide opportunities for stretch assignments and training across functions.
  5. Invite employees into problem solving; challenge them to come up with solutions to exercise critical thinking.
  6. Develop a career path roadmap that includes stepping stone positions to help employees gain skills and confidence.
  7. Encourage a progressive bucket brigade of people training their replacements to preserve institutional knowledge and best practices.
  8. Make smart recruiting, employee referrals and formal and informal training operational priorities.
Identify high performing employees early on and nurture.
    1.
  1. Look for natural ability, the desire to take on challenges and responsibilities, and the ability to communicate.
  2. People that demonstrate strategic perspective and clarity of focus.
  3. People that demonstrate an interest in results and in your expectations for success.
  4. People that are “we not me” and who value teamwork.
  5. People that behave ethically and can represent your company in your community.
  6. People that reflect aptitude for learning, expertise and agility, and who can encourage others to succeed.
  7. People that have the courage to make tough decisions and take calculated risks.
  8. People with emotional intelligence who demonstrate empathy, learn from mistakes, work well with others and can be effective leading change.
Hire smart. Close the deal with high performers.
  1. Have a true career path model to showcase opportunities in your company for advancement.
  2. Provide context for growth. Offer them a career not just a job.
  3. Take an interest in them personally, learn what makes them tick and what their passions are.
  4. Invite them to spend time understanding your organization’s strategic viewpoint and meeting employees representing different roles so they can visualize what it would be like to have an impact in your business and find a sense of purpose.
In game adjustments.

I believe in stressing that it is up to them to get promoted, not up to me to promote them. I stress the need to train their replacement. In my company, we have a coaching-mentoring culture, placing more emphasis on regular coaching than annual performance reviews. We call it, “coaching during the game.” As in sports, we course correct in real time. We do not wait for year-end reviews.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.