It may seem counter-intuitive, but increasing the amount of challenge you instill in your team’s work life will increase their level of engagement. Think back on the best bosses you’ve had. Were they the easiest, or were they the ones who pushed you to succeed?
Let’s start with the assumption that most people want to do a good job and want to achieve good things at work. I think you need to believe that in order to be a positive leader. Besides, if we have people on our team who don’t care, then we have done something fundamentally wrong in the hiring process. So, let’s accept that the people on our team want to achieve good things.
When people feel overly confident and under-challenged, they become satisfied and complacent. They stop trying as hard because things have become too easy. This situation can easily happen when good employees receive only positive recognition and rewards for their work without any additional push to keep growing and keep getting better.
Notice that I am not suggesting we take away the recognition and rewards! I am suggesting we do both – provide lots of positive recognition and additional challenges. Peak employee engagement and optimal performance will be achieved when employees feel a perfect balance between high levels of confidence and high levels of challenge on the job. It’s a tricky leadership skill to master, because each employee’s balance point will be different. Worse yet, the balance points for each employee are constantly changing. It’s our job as leaders to ensure we are consistently finding and striking the right balance with each individual.
Use the attached image of “The Leadership Balance Model” as a guide, and strive to keep all employees in the top right quadrant as often as possible. Then, feel the pride of knowing that you will be remembered as a leader who pushed people to grow and to achieve ever higher levels of success!