Back in 2010, lawyer Alex Valencia set up a law practice. Within a couple of years, his Pennsylvania-based business had expanded rapidly. In the space of just six months, his workforce grew from just 60 people to more than 120.
But with this increased scale came increased costs and regulatory burdens. Valencia realized that if his business was going to stay in profit, he’d have to do things differently. The problem was that his staff weren’t particularly motivated to perform to their maximum potential. Yes, it was a talented group of people, but there was a lot more value that could be extracted, all lurking below the surface. Valencia decided that the best strategy was to invest in the human capital in his company to make sure that his team was offering maximum value to his clients while reducing their costs.
So what did he do?
#1: He Set His Employees Up For Success
Valencia realized early on that businesses thrive when each person in the company has an incentive to do well. As a result, he decided to use his leadership skills to create an environment that promoted ownership, meaning that each person had a vested interest in the success of the business.
To further incentivize his best employees, Valencia decided that he would always try to promote from within if the opportunity arose. Soon he had a management team that consisted of long-term employees, many of whom he had mentored personally.
#2: He Made Work Challenging
Nothing is worse for employees that a stale environment. For one, it becomes very easy to get stuck in a rut and to stop striving for achievement. And two, it can cause people to become sloppy with their work as they become disinterested in what they are doing. Valencia realized this and came to the conclusion that challenge and routine were essential for productivity., As a result, he implemented complete performance management solutions that ensured employees remained focused on their workflows as well as keeping tasks exciting and fresh.
One of the key takeaways from the experience was the beneficial effect of goal setting. For a particular segment of his workforce, he found that goals themselves could be a motivating factor, besides any financial or career-based rewards.
#3: He Rewarded Top Performers
Getting better at what you do is hard for both employees and employers. So it’s good to reward improvement, wherever possible. Valencia did this by holding reward ceremonies for employees, tracking their productivity, and acknowledging their efforts. He found that this boosted their morale.
He also found that the best way to approach employee rewards wasn’t for them to be handed down from on high from management, but for them to be nominated by their team members. Often co-workers are in the best position to assess work performance, not managers.
#4: He Fired People When They Needed It
No matter how hard managers try, some people simply aren’t suited for certain lines of work. Valencia recognized early on that it is usually best to fire these people for their own sake, as well as for the business.