5 ways to challenge employees without overdoing it

Pushing employees beyond their limit can help expand their potential and capacity, but only if done right. By Satyaki Sarkar

A key aspect of a leader’s role is to motivate and encourage team members and employees towards success, excellence, and self-improvement. However, in the effort to drive results and achieve targets, leaders can inadvertently push employees towards burnout. There’s a fine line between challenging someone to grow beyond their expectations and pushing them past the point of no return. Here are some tips to help you figure out that balance. However, today’s leaders, in the pursuit of building their employees to be future leaders and achievers, often forget that there needs to be a limit to how much they can be pushed, and as a result, end up driving them driving them into the ground. There is a very fine line between pushing someone past his limits so he can set higher limits for himself, and pushing him beyond them to a point of no return. So how exactly can a leader successfully push his employees without it being too much? Today, Bonne Vie gives you five ways to do just that.

1. Let them know what you’re doing
When employees think they are being pushed beyond their limits they start to perceive it as a form of discrimination and bullying at work, making them resent their leader. However, if they are aware that their boss is doing so in an effort to push them out of complacency or help them learn, then they’re a lot more receptive to the idea and welcome the chance for growth and advancement. It becomes a form of self motivation to want to build and expand their own personal capacities, rather than a cause of stress because of unfair treatment.

2. Set goals and celebrate when they’re achieved
Good leaders know its important to pace themselves and their employees; giving them definitive goals, pushing them to achieve those goals, and recognising the accomplishment once the goals are achieved. Celebrating accomplishments is important as it boosts individual and team morale, gives team members a chance to take a break, and gives them another reason to go after the next big goal. It also makes them go further the next time you push.

3. Encourage them to introspect
If you feel a particular employee hasn’t been performing to his/her potential despite your best efforts, then it might be time they spent some time in self-reflection. Suggest he/she take out some time in the day to think back to when they started their career. What motivated them then? What were their goals? What was on their career wish list? What have they learnt in their journey so far? They then need to see if they’ve met any of those milestones, if any of those factors have changed, etc. This will prompt them to create a new, more relevant career plan that better suits them. An employee who is more in control/in charge of his career and looking to improve its trajectory is more motivated to take on challenging tasks and improve productivity.

4. Take future productivity into consideration
While setting goals for your team, it is important to consider not only their current productive capacity and bandwidth, but their future one as well. In a high stress, demanding corporate environment duties and responsibilities change at a moment’s notice. While employees might have the capacity and time to go the extra mile today, in a month an entirely new project or responsibility might be added to their schedule, which could completely disrupt their productivity. Therefore, good leaders know they must also take the estimated future workload and productive capacity into consideration while setting goals for their teams.

5. Promote reciprocity
If you want your employees to push themselves to their limit, you need to give them a few good reasons to do so. In such a scenario, appreciation and acknowledgement, not only in words, but in actual, measurable, incentives is one of the ways to go. As a leader, you need to know what your employees want, and giving it to them (within reason) is a very healthy way of reciprocation that conveys that you are willing to reward them for their dedication and hard work.

Photograph: Peoplecreations/  

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz


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