3 things your employees need

If you want outstanding employee performance with high levels of morale and job satisfaction — there are only three things you need to do. Doing these things often and well will also produce great teamwork, increased productivity, risk-based innovation, and quality to name a few. Moreover, by practising these three things often, your management acumen and social capital substantially increase.

The three things you need to do to manage more effectively are:

  • Give Recognition
  • Provide Support
  • Facilitate Growth

Supportive company culture is essential for every workplace because it engages. When employees are engaged, they perform better, they tell. you the truth and they are far more likely to reach their full potential.

An important part of building a supportive culture is encouraging feedback. You must go beyond an open-door policy by reaching out to your employees. Part of being an effective manager is building healthy professional and personal relationships with them so they can develop a sense of trust with you. When there is trust, they are far more likely to share concerns or ideas they may otherwise not share.

Giving Recognition

From an early age, we crave recognition from parents, teachers, and friends. So strong is our need for positive affirmation that we can even perceive a neutral reaction as a negative one. We all need and highly value recognition of our efforts, our contributions; we need regular feedback to understand how well we are going and if our work is hitting the mark. An employee of the month award or positive comments in front of peers is a good way to go as well as simple, genuine expressions of thankfulness — these things inspire people to do their best.

Recognition shows employees that the company values them and their contributions; it helps employees create a sense of security about their value to the company, further motivating them to do great work. Employee recognition helps to:

  • Retain top talent
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Encourage high performance

An employee survey included the question, “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?” Respondents answered in their own words, providing a variety of responses, but a clear pattern emerged — 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often.

While other themes like autonomy and inspiration surfaced, recognition was the most common theme that emerged from responses. In addition, the study showed that affirmation, feedback and reward are most effective for motivating employees to do their best work.

What you can do

Recognition is absolutely essential in the workplace, and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. It can look like this:

  • Showing acceptance and respect.
  • Giving approval.
  • Respecting a person’s individual preferences.
  • Finding out an employee’s likes, dislikes, and personal wishes.
  • Being sensitive as to how you say things.
  • Making comments such as:

- “That was a great monthly report you wrote, it helped me a lot.”

- “I appreciate all of the work you put in on your latest project.”

  • Being specific. Recognition is more meaningful when it is tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective. When recognising employees, explaining what the recognition is for helps employees relate the recognition to their behaviour. This encourages continued strong performance.
  • Being timely. Recognition needs to be timely; the longer it takes for managers to recognise employees, the less likely employees will see the affirmations as authentic.
  • Just saying thank you. While it’s crucial to recognise major accomplishments, just saying thank you every day is just as important and effective and motivates employees just as much (and sometimes even more).

Providing Support

Committed employees feel supported and perform far better at work, are absent less often, and are far less likely to resign. This is because employees want the organisation to value them, to have their contribution appreciated, to have an organisation that cares about their well-being and is ready to offer help when needed. This is referred to as ‘Perceived Organisational Support. The main effects of which are:

  • Increased commitment. If an employee feels valued and cared for, they are likely to value the company in return. They are also likely to feel a sense of belonging and support so that working for the organisation becomes part of their identity and sense of purpose and meaning. These things increase the employees feeling of commitment and loyalty to their organisation.
  • Improved job satisfaction and mood. Employees who feel valued have greater job satisfaction. They feel happier at work, and their overall attitude towards work is more positive. They expect that hard work will be rewarded and feel that help will be available if needed.
  • Increased interest in work. People are more likely to be interested in a task if they feel they are good at it. Support from the workplace can help increase an employee’s feelings of competence and, therefore, their level of interest in their work.
  • Increased performance. Employees who feel valued and supported perform better at work and go beyond their required duties. They might help other employees gain knowledge and skills that benefit the workplace or use their initiative to help the company or protect it from risks.
  • Decreased psychological strain. Organisational support is believed to help employees cope better with stress, as practical help and emotional support are available. Previous studies have shown organisational support can help reduce psychological stress and reduce reactions to stress, including burnout, anxiety and headaches.
  • Increased desire to remain working for the organisation. Supported employees are less likely to leave their job for another one that offers slightly better pay, more status or greater freedom.
  • Decreased lateness, absenteeism and turnover. Employees who feel valued are less likely to withdraw from work. Employees might withdraw by taking sick leave, arriving late or quitting.

Perceived organisational support has a strong effect on commitment, job satisfaction, mood and desire to stay with a company. The main factors that increase perceived organisational support and make employees feel more valued and cared about are:

  • Fairness. Employees who believe their organisation is fair, feel more valued.
  • Support from supervisors. If employees feel valued by their managers, they tend to take this to mean that the organisation values them as a whole. Employees are also aware that their manager’s evaluations will probably be passed on to higher management.
  • Rewards and job conditions. Recognising an employee’s contributions increases their sense of being valued, achieved through recognition, pay or promotions.

What you can do

Support in the workplace increases an employee’s feelings of competence and their level of interest in their work. In the workplace, support can look like this:

  • Providing appropriate work tools.
  • Providing training.
  • Providing material assistance.
  • Providing encouragement.
  • Always offer to help.
  • Provide examples.
  • Doing walkthroughs of what it is you are after.
  • Being more interested in the person having a go as against what they produce.
  • Understanding when it’s time to step in.
  • Not waiting for performance reviews to give feedback.
  • Providing mentorship.
  • Actively promoting a healthy work-life balance.
  • Showing your employees that you trust them.
  • Thanking your team for their hard work.

Facilitating Growth

Every employee needs a workplace that develops them personally and professionally, where there is growth that increases their competencies and capacity for external accomplishment and inner fulfilment.

The rate of development varies from person to person, as does how the development is delivered. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand and accept individual differences (e.g., some people receive more encouragement, some more autonomy, others firmer standards, and still others more task structure), and it follows that when delegating tasks, it should be done as a means of developing the employee.

What you can do

  • Provide training opportunities like chairing meetings, leading a project or giving a presentation.
  • Increase a person’s energy. Giving recognition and providing support with added motivation increases a person’s energy levels, and the higher their energy, the greater their capacity for accomplishment.
  • Provide challenges. We grow when we are challenged to be our best and exceed ourselves, and this is best done by delegating tasks outside a person’s comfort zone, skillsets, experience and knowledge.
  • Make sure the person is organised. Organisation converts energy into accomplishment. The more organised someone is, the greater the results they can achieve.
  • Create performance goals. Help your employees establish individual performance goals that are aligned with: A team common goal, their Strengths, Interests and Experience. Establish goals and expectations to help them set their sights on achieving career aspirations.
  • Help them build their networks. Recommend opportunities within the organisation, as well as networking or professional groups that will help them build new connections.
  • Show employees, you trust them. If you want to help employees develop, trust them to do their jobs by getting out of the way. Let them know your expectations by modelling the behaviour you expect — show them you trust them. This not only lets employees know what they need to succeed and gives them greater ownership, but it also shows them that credibility and trust are important in your organisation.

The best way to do all three — Weekly Check-In

As a manager in an organisation who wants to be respected, looked up to, and who wants to develop teamwork, means you need to have a good understanding of your people. Spending time with them, talking to them, is the way you come to understand what they care for individually; this is how you discover what makes them tick. Managers who actively support and motivate feel closer to those whom they are managing. By showing a sincere interest in your employees, you are building trust and inspiring them to achieve higher levels of performance. Weekly Check-Ins (one on one sessions) is the best way to achieve these things. Check-Ins engage employees, the most powerful effect for achieving high performance.

The purpose of Check-Ins is to create a working relationship that is positive and supportive that provides you with a management tool that gives you a heads up on potential issues, help you understand if the employee does feel valued and helps you to develop them to their fullest potential.

At the start of your sessions, use an ice-breaker like “What are your top 3 issues at the moment?” then explain why the sessions are being held, their purpose of providing a review of current work activities and any issues or roadblocks and a vehicle to discuss professional development. Provide recognition, offer support and most importantly offer help. Try exchanging background information about yourself, take the time to get to know each other. Try to understand the employee’s situation and out of work stresses and obligations. Use your situation as an example. Being as frank and honest as you can helps build repour and encourages the employee to do the same. You are building a working relationship here, and you want to be able to quickly and easily, openly and honestly, discuss any subject in the future, no matter how contentious or troublesome.

At subsequent sessions, the employee should be encouraged to share information about his or her career path aspirations and be given guidance, motivation, emotional support and assistance with problems.

There also needs to be a mutually understood agreement to speak freely, otherwise, the relationship is unlikely to reach its full potential. Commit to honesty. Both parties should be prepared to offer frank feedback as appropriate, even if the feedback is critical. Listen and learn. Managers, especially, need to remember that the sessions are not primarily about them. These sessions should reveal employees preferred working styles and as mentioned, professional aspirations. You are their role model, lead by example, remembering that your words and actions will create a lasting impression and are likely to be copied.

Be careful of language; for example, never criticise anyone even when the situation warrants it. Instead, I strongly suggest that you tell them that you have an ‘observation’ to make, albeit negative. The word ‘criticism’ or being perceived as critical is negative; it turns people off; they stop listening and are unlikely to take on board what you have to say. If, for example, you have made the same mistake yourself at some time or exhibited the same poor behaviour that you have ‘observed’, say so; it builds trust and reiterates that we all learn from our mistakes. Always try to follow a negative observation with a positive one.

If you are running a team-building process, use this time to explore how the employee is adjusting, any concerns they may have and any suggestions for improvement. Work to get them to take on increased ownership of the team-building process outcomes, and new ways of working. After all, they benefit from team building.

Recognise that employees have individual differences in terms of needs and desires, aim to exploit their strengths and challenge them with new tasks that can capitalize on their strengths. Do not discuss weaknesses, it serves no purpose. Aim to understand their preferred working style instead.


The three essential things you need to do to manage your employees effectively, to keep them happy and satisfied and feeling respectful about you and to show that you genuinely value them and their contributions; are giving recognition, providing support and facilitating growth.

To give recognition you need to provide positive feedback, show approval, understand how each person accepts compliments, be timely and just say thank you. Providing support means you need to provide tools and training, material assistance and always offers to help. To facilitate growth, you need to provide challenges, create performance goals and show employees that you trust them.

Finally, the best way to deliver all three is by doing a Weekly Check-In with each employee — these methods work, they yield substantive results both for you and the employee. Your sense of personal and job satisfaction will also increase to new levels. Trust me, I know.




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Russell Futcher

Russell Futcher


IT Change Management, High-Performance Management and Teams Specialist, Leadership Development, Team Building, Author