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When giving critical feedback to employees, it can be all too easy to do so from a results-oriented mindset instead of a growth-oriented mindset. However, the ability to deal with people from a growth-oriented mindset is the difference between leaders who inspire their employees to do great work and those who don’t.

Want employees who are motivated to succeed?  Create a mentoring mindset. Be like the sports coach, if you will, who wears a headset that’s tuned into your players as well as your competitors. For those of us who are task and results oriented, this can be a challenge, but trust me—if you put forth the effort to partner with your employees, rather than just dictate to them, great things can happen. Here are a few tips for designing (and using) a Coach and Mentor Headset.

Design Your Culture in the Hiring Process: Set down your vision of how your company will get things done, and the kinds of talent you will need to make that happen. What skills do they need? How will they mesh with each other? What kinds of personalities will work, and which ones clog up the works or impede the progress of the whole? Make sure you’re hiring through the filters you set up in your vision so you’re getting the right mix of talent—especially team players who like to network, learn new things and help others succeed as well. You instinctively know the difference between a diamond in the rough and a bad apple. Polish those rough diamonds through mentoring, encouragement and open communication. Weed out potential bad apples in the hiring process—and/or act quickly to remove them before they poison the barrel.

Encourage Creative Thinking: If you want your team to operate at high efficiency, then empower all individuals to openly communicate, think outside the box and make changes to improve processes, products and procedures. Managers and leaders who employ straight talk and encourage open dialogue, help maintain a high level of self confidence in their team members that leads to innovation. When employees feel free to express concerns and offer new ideas, they feel more comfortable and often come up with amazingly creative solutions that contribute to company success.

Build (and Earn) Trust: Leading by example is the best way to earn the trust of your employees. Your employees need to know that you take responsibility for your actions and expect them to do the same. They look to you for guidance on exemplifying company values and integrity, and your style of leadership tells them what they need to know. Are you the kind of boss who blames employees for lack of success in your business, or do you roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches with them to improve results? Do you make them feel safe in their jobs, or are they always waiting for an axe to fall? Are you empathetic or distant?

One CEO who leads by example is Howard Schultz of Starbucks, who recently sent an email out to every employee in the wake of the recent Asian stock market turmoil. This excerpt shows him to be a leader who appreciates that his employees are the face of his company, offering them encouragement to think empathetically towards their customers during a stressful time:

Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and–as you always have–remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”

Rather than making this a public “feel good” statement directed at customers, his approach was to huddle his team and encourage them to be human—something he notes in his full email that he’s proud that they do anyway. He also acknowledged that every employee’s efforts contributes to the success or failure of the company as a whole, and that he believes in them and is proud to be a partner with them.

Does his coaching style work? Absolutely. This email is just one example of his leadership style. According to data from Glassdoor, where current and former employees anonymously review companies and management, Schultz enjoys an approval rating of 91 percent.

The bottom line? Helping your employees grow and prosper means creating a culture of success, hiring the right team members and mentoring them along their journey, and providing the kind of leadership that inspires integrity and positive action. Sure, there will be rough spots along the way, but people love to be part of a winning team.

Originally posted at the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce

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