I once worked with a guy who was terrible at building self confidence in his employees. He prided himself on burning through sales professionals. And he had an interesting process that he would go through.

First, he’d hire the best talent he could find.

Second, he provided little or no coaching or feedback, because he figured you should be able to sell, right?

Third, no matter how successful the sales professional was, if they didn’t sell “his way” he fired them.

Can you even imagine what it was like to work in this environment? It was like a revolving door of employees. Not only could you get fired for not making sales, which isn’t necessarily unreasonable, you could also get fired if you didn’t completely model his style.

This was an incredibly limiting environment and it didn’t provide any room for growth because the sales process was his way or the highway. This was a devastating environment for many young professionals.

So let’s assume that you are a bit more open-minded than this manager was and you are interested in developing your employees and allowing them to build their own unique strengths and abilities. When you help your employees develop their strengths and overcome their challenges, so they are successful in your organization, you will be amazed by how this serves not just the employee, but you and the entire organization.

In order to start this process, your employees have to feel comfortable coming to you for guidance. Think about people you approach for insights, what are some things they do and say that cause you to seek them out?

Do they listen to you?

Offer you their full attention?

For example, they’re not timesharing between you and any electronic device.

Do they offer judgment and blame or acceptance and understanding?

Do they focus immediately on what you did wrong or right?

Do you feel better or worse after talking with them?

People who you seek out for advice make you feel comfortable and valued.  

They listen to you and focus completely on the conversation at hand.

They value you and take the time to consider your situation and offer useful insights for you to consider.

They tend to focus on the positive and build you up before offering ideas on ways to improve.

They respect you and they believe in your ability to grow and develop.

When you create an environment like this, you give your team the opportunity to learn from you and you have the opportunity to learn from them. When people feel respected and validated, they are much more likely to listen to what you are saying. If you haven’t created an environment like this, your advice, if you bother to give any, may fall on deaf ears.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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