However skilled and ambitious your employees may be, their greatest value often lies in their self-confidence. Confident, independent people possess courage and eagerness – and they’re strong self-starters.
Use these nine tips when you’re trying to foster a spirit of confidence among members of your team. Your efforts will pay off time and time again.
Affirm your peoples’ strengths. Confidence is often based on self-understanding. So identify the key strengths of each member of your team. Then, make it a point to recognize those strengths, and demonstrate that you value them.
Relate insights into relationships. Most personal growth comes about when individuals learn the art of relationships. So make it a point to help your people understand what motivates others, and how to negotiate and persuade. Resist the temptation to ‘fight battles’ when your people run into relationship trouble, but help them learn how to gently navigate their way through tense and difficult situations.
Help them dream. Independent people set goals, often lofty ones. Encourage your people to dream big, to set ambitious long-term goals. Then help them figure out the steps they need to take to make those goals become real.
Assign in increments. People learn by doing. They become confident in small doses. So give your people small assignments and challenges at first. Then make those challenges a little more difficult, but substantially more significant – and watch your peoples’ confidence grow.
Challenge and stretch your people. True confidence develops when people leave their comfort zone and realize that they can thrive outside of their routine. Once you see a genuine sense of confidence developing in an individual, give him or her a ‘stretch assignment’ – a challenge that forces one to learn and practice new skills.
Answer questions, and teach the art of questioning. Great mentors foster the art of independence by letting their charges be independent. That’s usually a good principle to follow. But however much you may loosen the reins, always be available for questions and advice. Even more important, foster the Socratic art of questioning: encourage your people to pose questions and inquiries themselves.
Offer resources. Independence and confidence often happen because behind-the-scenes resources are available. What can you offer the people around you? The answer might include data and information, experts, budgets, technical assistance, industry contacts, and more. Make it available, and you’ll add still one more building block to your peoples’ confidence quest.
Teach your people that pain is not personal. Independent, self-confidence people fail every once in a while. Or they encounter difficulty or resistance along the way. Coach your people to avoid taking difficulties and setbacks personally. Equally important, help them recognize that setbacks are a natural part of progress and can even be growth experiences.
Trust your people. An atmosphere of trust allows confidence to grow. Let your people know, in word and deed, that you have confidence in them – and watch their own self-confidence bloom. Your confidence should include a willingness to allow mistakes. Mistakes, at the end of the day, can be learning experiences for the people around you. Mistakes, when coupled with thoughtful reflection, can boost your peoples’ sense of independence and confidence even further than you might imagine.
Richard G. Ensman is a regular contributor to Machinery & Equipment MRO.