4 Ways to Get the Most from Your Professional Team

A good leader gets the most out of his or her team. Doing so requires a genuine commitment to trust, respect, and loyalty.

Employers are always trying to maximize value and productivity while keeping costs low. Much of a company's value, and likewise much of its cost, is centered on its employees. But since every employee has a productivity ceiling and the long-term goals of an organization may necessitate more output from certain positions, tough decisions often need to be made. Firing and rehiring is expensive and can lead to poor morale. Maintaining ineffective practices can stifle growth. Bruce Kasanoff at Forbes floats a third option: talent development. A measure of a good leader is whether or not he or she has the ability to raise the ceilings of his or her employees:

"For most organizations, hiring the best talent is not a viable business strategy. The only way to get the best is to pay more than your competitors, and few companies are willing or able to do this. A far better strategy is to hire decent, hardworking people and bring out the best in them."

There's a bit of the Moneyball mantra in this philosophy — making a lot out of a little. Here's a brief summary of Kasanoff's best strategies for getting the most value from your clubhouse:

1. Assess your talent: Just as a sports team features players with different skill sets, your work team is a collection of unique individuals who bring different things to the table. Figure out what your employees are best at and decide what motivates them. Kasanoff points out that it's not always money or power.

2. Democratize input: Each locker room has its loudmouths. Each also has its quiet leaders. Find ways to incorporate these invisibles in company dialogue. Cater to their specific wiring and you'll see their productivity rise. Getting the most out of people involves engaging them on their level.

3. Embrace individuality: If every player on a baseball club looked and acted like their manager, the team would collapse in the standings. As a leader, you can't promote a degree of conformity with you or any other high-ranking person as the model. Kasanoff:

"Give your people the freedom to be the best version of themselves, rather than a pale version of you."

4. Loyalty and respect: A good manager goes to battle for his team in both good times and bad. This cannot be stressed enough. Employees will give their all for someone they feel respects, trusts, and values them. If they feel good about working for you, they will do their best to be their best.

Below, Maynard Webb on always looking out for your employees.

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