It can be incredibly frustrating for a manager to watch an underconfident employee constantly fail to realize their potential. You might be entirely convinced of their skills and abilities, yet they’re progressing at a snail’s pace, impacting organizational productivity. Their lack of confidence may be due to a number of factors, and as such, the act of instilling motivation is not an easy premise for a manager. Despite this, it is necessary. Confidence, after all, is the driving factor that motivates employees to work harder and perform better.
Difficult though it may be to inspire your team to greatness, it is much more efficient to encourage existing employees than to recruit new ones. Consider the time and money taken to recruit a new candidate. This is simply unnecessary when you have a perfectly able employee at hand; they just require a helping hand. Your organization will ultimately see the benefits in terms of productivity, performance, engagement, and employee retention.
There is no quick-fire way to motivate underconfident employees. Everyone is different and will need encouragement in different areas, although with small changes to your performance management system, your efforts will pay off in the long term.
Meet with your employees regularly
Transparent communication is essential for the smooth running of any modern company. This is why forward-thinking organizations are moving towards continuous performance management. This process involves regular employee check-ins over annual performance appraisals. This system is tremendously effective if you are concerned about a particular, underconfident employee. The frequent communication allows for the discussion of pertinent issues and goal progression.
Consider scheduling weekly or fortnightly feedback sessions with your employees. This is their time and they should direct the conversation. Be understanding, open, and non-judgmental. Offer advice and assistance where appropriate, and your employee will come to see you as a confidante and someone who can help them realize their potential.
Make it clear you have confidence in their abilities
If an employee appears uncertain or insecure about their performance, make an extra effort to point out their strengths. Express your own confidence in their abilities and comment on how far they have come. This will help to build a healthy self-image and it will encourage them to press ahead without the need for constant reassurance. Employees are far more likely to question themselves and their abilities when they have never received affirmations that they are doing well. A little goes a long way, and your words will make your workforce feel valued.
Never forget the value of recognition
So many companies forget about the true value of employee recognition. In fact, you might be losing your most valuable employees due to a lack of recognition, so if this isn’t a priority for your company, you should make efforts to address it. A compliment or praise on a job well done will do wonders for an under-confident employee. Something as small as a “good job” upon task completion can bolster self-esteem and convince employees to acknowledge their accomplishments.
Recognition should be prompt if it is to be effective. As soon as you notice outstanding employee behavior or effort, comment and congratulate. This will go a long way to encouraging employee engagement and boosting morale.
Allow employees to play to their strengths
A Gallup poll indicates employees who play to their strengths far outperform those who don’t. It may feel tempting to force employees to challenge themselves and develop their skill sets, but if you are concerned with bolstering self-confidence, a great way to begin would be to allow your employee to excel in an area they are well acquainted with. Once confidence levels are up, and with appropriate support, the employee themselves will likely push their own boundaries.
Todd Mansfield, executive vice president of Disney Development Company, has chimed in on the importance of focusing on employee strengths during performance reviews. Mansfield states that DDC used to spend 80% of its time discussing what needed to be improved, and only 20% discussing what they did well. Mansfield claims this is simply not effective, and it is a more productive use of energy to examine employee strengths, aligning their responsibilities with those abilities.
Help them learn, develop, and advance
Most of us are aware that confidence and competence are very closely related. Employees who feel they are of value to an organization have much more reason to be confident with their work and their potential. With this in mind, companies should prioritize employee development. If employees are interested in developing a particular strength or skill, measures should be put in place to ensure this happens. This will demonstrate to your employees that you are invested in them and believe they will be an asset to your organization for years to come.
Similarly, as a manager, you should incentivize your employees to seek promotions and advancements. If you haven’t proposed any upward career moves, your employees may perceive this as a lack of confidence in their abilities. If you have faith in your employee’s abilities, tell them. Encourage them along their chosen career path whenever possible.