4 ways to harness your team's talent

Great results don’t come from average contributions. Harnessing the full potential of people to optimise business performance is the key to success for most small businesses.

Human potential is encapsulated in both the talent and energy people bring – that is, the capabilities people offer as well as the energy they are willing to invest in getting the job done.

However, the capabilities of any person, team or business only add value when they are effectively applied – and this comes down to how people choose to behave. The strength of our spirit is a key influencer of the choices we make about how to behave.

People who are energised typically choose to behave in ways that enable success: they are proactive, resilient, conscientious.

Conversely, when people are drained they are more likely to behave in ways that undermine their own success, and also that of their team.

1. Understand what you need to achieve

The first step any leader must take is to understand what they need to achieve.

It isn’t enough to have a broad notion of the outcomes you and your team are striving for – it’s critical that you understand the specific capabilities and investment in energy it will take to get there.

2. Build your team

Once you are armed with an intimate understanding of the knowledge, skills and experience you need, next on the priority list is to ensure you have the right people on board.

Building a team capable of turning your vision into reality requires making disciplined and at times tough decisions. Who you decide to keep in each role across your team underpins the potential you can create and leverage.

3. Build your team’s spirit

Encourage those things that energise people and work to avoid the influence of those that drain your team.

Ensure every member of your team has the drive and fuel to succeed by leveraging the five common influencers of a person’s spirit at work:

  1. Sense of personal value: How we feel about ourselves as well as how we believe others feel about us energises or drains our spirit. 
  2. Relationships: When we trust and respect the people we work with we are more likely to be energised and engaged.
  3. Purpose and meaning: How people feel about what they and their organisation contribute to the world typically matters to the strength of their spirit.
  4. Belief: The strength of our belief is reflected in how we feel about the future and our ability to influence that future.
  5. Enjoyment: Having fun at work isn’t only OK, it’s necessary for people to thrive at work. When people enjoy what they do they are more likely to invest energy and strive to succeed.

4. Unleash energy

Tapping into the potential of your team requires you to inspire their passion and desire to achieve success – it’s what drives how much energy they choose to invest in getting there.

Seven critical priorities that will enable you to unleash the spirit of your team and achieve great results are:

  1. Lead by example: be optimistic and invest energy in your own role.
  2. Earn trust and respect: before expecting to influence the way people choose to behave, build a strong relationship with them.
  3. Give people something to buy into: create a compelling vision for the future that inspires people to want to be a part of it.
  4. Establish clear expectations of the role you need each person on your team to play and empower them to do it.
  5. Focus people on shared objectives: that is, the things they collectively ‘own’ and need to link arms with their colleagues in order to achieve.
  6. Put milestone checks along the way: provide the opportunity for your team to stop and reflect on how they are going and what they have achieved so far.
  7. Celebrate wins: show your staff how much you value their contribution to the team and business.

Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist, author and a founder of Ryan Gately, an HR consultancy.

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