Mark Craemer No Comments

Organizations that put the effort into fully engaging employees are more likely to reach peak performance and that is a mandatory step in achieving increased shareholder value. This may sound like common sense, yet it is all too rarely implemented.

In my experience, the best companies are those who focus on customers and employees in that particular order. Providing customers with the respect and value they deserve can help maintain a company’s position through fierce competition and often lean economic times. The same could be said for employees. To get the best out of your workers, treat them with respect and provide them with the value they deserve.

Too often when a company decides to go public, shareholders replace employees in spot number two and sometimes customers in the top spot. When this happens, share price may increase in the short term, but is not sustained in the long term. Customers who are no longer the focus will find another company that honors them above stock price. The same could be said for employees who are no longer treated respectfully.

When employees are treated as liabilities instead of assets, they often lose interest in doing what’s best for the organization. And this eventually contributes to a drop in shareholder value. On the other hand, effectively engaging employees to achieve their best performance can directly lead to an increase in shareholder value.

To get the best performance out of employees requires motivating them and capitalizing on their abilities. Motivation means clearly understanding what rewards are of particular interest to each of them. These rewards could be monetary and take the form of a bonus or raise, or more ego-related and mean recognition or a promotion. Regardless, motivation is key in engaging employees to deliver their best performance.

Capitalizing on individual employee’s abilities is equally necessary. This means not only getting the most out of his or her knowledge and skills, but gaining a better understanding of their individual talents and putting these to work. Talents may not pop out on resumes, but they are ultimately the true gifts and strengths employees bring to the workplace.

As I discussed in an earlier post, knowledge and skills are competencies that can be taught. Attitudes and beliefs are what constitute talents and these are very difficult to teach.

Talents are recurring patterns of behavior that can be productively applied, according to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book “First, Break all the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently.” The key to excellent performance then is finding a match between an employee’s talents and his or her role.

These talents may include:

Striving Talents (why of a person) What motivates her to get out of bed in the morning? Are these talents based on achievement, stamina, competition, service, ethics, beliefs, etc? Drive, for example, is a striving talent and very important for someone who needs to initiate rather than respond in the workplace.

Thinking Talents (how of a person) How does he think, how does he weigh alternatives, how does he come to decisions? These talents may be based on focus, discipline, responsibility, performance, and many others. Analytical is a thinking talent and very important for someone who must effectively weigh alternatives.

Relating Talents (who of a person) Who does she trust, who does she build relationships with, who does she confront, and who does she ignore? These talents could be based on empathy, relationship, stimulation, persuasion, etc. Communication is a relating talent and essential for someone who regularly works with other people.

Matching employees’ talents along with their knowledge and skills in the right roles is the best way to capitalize on their abilities. And getting a clear understanding and offering what motivates each of them individually is equally important. These employee engagement activities can then result in them reaching optimal performance.

But engagement needs be more than a human resources initiative—it should embraced as a strategic foundation for the way of doing business. And that is a powerful step towards increasing shareholder value.

Mark Craemer     

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