Challenging your employees means you see their potential and ask them to push further. You might give them an assignment that is harder than what they’re used to, especially if it moves beyond their comfort zone.

Why challenge employees?

As an organization, and as a supervisor, you desire to see your employees succeed. You want solid workers and you seek out employees who seem to go beyond their normal tasks.

When you challenge them, you’re giving them an opportunity to prove their value. They might have skills and talents that remain hidden until they shine with a new responsibility. Ultimately you desire to see them do great things for the business and you want to make sure they are happy in each position.

What are the benefits to the employee, manager and company?

Workplace behavior is leaning heavily toward fulfillment. People seek a greater purpose and they want to be with a company that is willing to cater to that pattern of thinking. Employees look for opportunities to contribute to something better than simply receiving a paycheck. They seek change and accomplishment.

When you challenge your employees, you are telling them that you have confidence in their abilities. While employees at first might seem overwhelmed, your reassurance and at times, your assistance, might be the boost they need to realize they are valued. Employees like to know leadership has faith in what they can do.

Managers are responsible for managing their employees. However, more is required. They are the ones who need to be alert for opportunities to encourage those high achieving, creative thinking employees to go beyond the norm. Those are the employees who want to be engaged and feel useful to the organization.

As a manager, you develop your own skills as mentor. Your ability to seek out the high achievers shows upper management your ability to encourage and push the talent you have before you. And your employees will view you as someone they can trust because they know you’re behind them, especially if assignments do not turn out as smoothly as initially hoped.

The company desires to have excellent workers and people who believe in what the organization is trying to accomplish. The stronger the loyalty of the employees, the healthier the company becomes and growth is inevitable. Loyalty also increases retention.

When is challenging difficult?

Not all employees wish to be challenged. They are happy to show up, do their mundane, easy tasks, collect their paycheck, and go home.

In this vein, while you can be an example in culture and behavior, not everyone is going to comply. Some people do not want to work hard and they don’t push themselves to reach beyond their capabilities (probably because it’s too much like work).

With that said, not all hope is lost. It could be, perhaps because of something deeper, they’ve never thought highly of themselves. They’ve never had anyone show confidence in their potential. If you try working with everyone and encouraging them to push beyond themselves, you’ll eventually learn who is willing to listen and come out of his shell and who prefers to hide there indefinitely.

It’s your job to try and weed them out.

How does leadership set the example?

In order for employees to feel comfortable in offering ideas or even challenging themselves, they need to observe this first in leadership. How so?

When leadership is together, they often (or at least, should) verbally express suggestions and ideas to make something better. They need to display that forward thinking mentality because businesses survive by pushing onward, trying new things, and proving they understand their customers.

While ideas should not be shut out altogether even if the majority doesn’t agree, there isn’t any harm with asking questions or requesting research data to back up a claim. These sessions should be viewed as exploring possibilities and done in a respectful atmosphere. Some seemingly odd ideas often end up with a different outlook after all have had a share with input. And still other ideas need to be revamped and presented at a later time.

Employees should see this and realize it’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to own your own ideas and attempt to share them with others. Employees are then compelled to be creative and move beyond the comfort walls of their normal tasks.

Seeing their managers and supervisors working together as a team will motivate them. They won’t view criticism as failure, but instead, a reason to try harder and improve their initial idea.

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