Often, employees need help figuring out what they do best. In other words, management needs to guide them toward identifying the skills that can help them succeed. If you ask people to identify their skills they might come up with rather general descriptions for what they´re good at. But if you push a little you could get them to identify some specific abilities and talents. How do you get there? You ask them about certain obstacles they were able to overcome-the circumstances leading up to the obstacle, the options that were presented, the choices they made, the results, what was learned, etc.
Once they have this "record" of accomplishment they can see the connection between an obstacle and a goal and they realize that they´re not mutually exclusive. You need to emphasize the point that just because you hit a brick wall (or an ornery customer, prickly colleague, stubborn piece of machinery, whatever) doesn´t mean for a second that you´re not going to reach your goal. So that´s one: help them identify their skills but go further and have them put those skills into context of something real.
Next, help your people figure out how they can maintain their momentum while climbing over (under or around) those obstacles. You can tell someone to keep the faith until the cows come home, but until you give them real reasons to stay optimistic-your own lessons can come in pretty handy at this point-they´re not going to be inclined to keep a positive attitude. It´s tempting to give up, especially when you are psychically spent and you´re not getting the support you need. If you´re going to assure people that their efforts are valued, then you need to be specific. Why are they valued? How does their contribution tip the scale in the company´s favor? How are things changed by their contributions?
Often, good people leave because they don´t see growth opportunities. "I´m too busy to identify growth opportunities" may be running through your head, but if people are bored, they will stray, particularly the ones with talent and energy. If your people sense that they´re standing still, they´ll get restless. If you´re lucky, these same individuals might actually confide in you and discuss their observations (and, yes, even feelings). If an employee does express interest in speaking with you about growth and where they might be headed, be sure to give them the time and focus they deserve. Don´t schedule a meeting if you´re working on a tight deadline. You´ll be distracted and they´ll know they´re not being heard. Remember, too, that just because someone is being paid relatively well and has some well-earned seniority doesn´t necessarily mean they´re happy. Listen carefully and you´ll probably figure out what might be missing.