Offer positive feedbackOften managers and employers focus, primarily, on what employees are doing wrong. While you don't want to leave problems to fester, it's often more effective to spend time on what the employees are doing right. Too much negative feedback eventually demoralizes and frustrates employees. Positive feedback, by contrast, is something that employees enjoy receiving. They're likely to keep doing things right in order to receive more of it. More importantly, they are likely to feel like they are good at their jobs, a factor which contributes heavily to job satisfaction. Think about it-would you want to go back and do something, day after day, that you've been told you are bad at again and again?
Having said that, there is a fine line between the right amount of positive reinforcement and too much. An employee may become complacent with too much praise, causing productivity to decline. Walk the line carefully.
Play to employee strengthsSo your employee isn't very detail oriented-but she's great at communicating complex ideas. Perhaps it's time to move her out of her administrative assistant's role and into training other employees. It takes time and money to find employees, and is more cost effective to promote within. Before you write them off as a loss, take the time to figure out what their strengths are and then use them to your best advantage. You'll be happier, and so will your employees. Remember, a lot of people wind up gathering a job history or a lot of job qualifications because they've "fallen in" to those positions over the years. It doesn't mean those positions are any kind of match for their strengths. You won't know unless you keep an open mind and take the time to observe and evaluate.
Set clear expectationsMost employees do want to please their employers. They may not be sure how to do so. For example, let's say you have a sales representative who never seems to meet their goals. A bad employer says, "You're just going to have to step it up or we're going to have to fire you." A good employer looks at the total package of the employee's approach. Solving the problem might be as simple as saying, "I expect you to set 40 appointments each and every month, and this is exactly what you need to do every day to get those appointments." With a quantitative factor added to their performance goals, the sales should improve. Good, clear expectations are concrete, task-oriented, and nailed down by the numbers. Employees can then measure their own performance each and every day without you having to micromanage them.
Help employees see the possibilitiesDon't just tell employees that you promote from within. Help employees see how their current job relates to jobs higher up the ladder. Show employees the different pathways people have taken to get towards those plum positions. Help that entry-level employee see the light at the end of the tunnel, wondering if it's worth it. Giving employees a better goal to work towards helps them own the process and keeps them focused.
Remember, hiring outside of the company costs you extra money every time you do it. Investing in your employee's personal growth can be an inexpensive, more effective, rewarding path. Employee development is not just a warm, fuzzy management concept-it's an active investment that you're making in the life and health of your company.