Top performing organizations understand the importance of keeping people challenged. Without some reason to evolve, many people will begin to stagnate. Professionally, they will find a rut, stay in it and without much thought, whittle away ten years repeating the same basic tasks. Appropriately challenged, those same people could thrive and ultimately be more productive and happier doing it.

As a species, life at one time consisted of solving one life-threatening problem after another.

Imagine a lifestyle where you worried about dying of exposure, thirst and hunger, all in the same day. Today, such a day would be spoken of for years; the story told and retold, at dinners and watercoolers alike. It would be considered a momentous day. At various points in our history, it would have just been considered Tuesday.

Inside each of us lives a hunter-gatherer, a wild-eyed child of nature; a problem solver and a survivor. Though we tend to snub this part of ourselves, as a rule, it never goes away. Professionally speaking, remembering this concept and even tapping into it is a way to radically alter the entire dynamic and performance characteristics of your entire organization. One of the simplest ways to do this is to keep people challenged continually.

When you give someone an objective to grow, many times, they’ll do just that! Though there are plenty of duds out there, many people are happy to evolve their skills to meet your new requirements. How do you do so? It depends on the individual.

For many people, the best way to get them to grow is to slowly give them added tasks that are just outside of their comfort zone. If they exhibit success, you can scale the difficulty of the tasks accordingly. By slowly introducing added difficulty you can help your employees grow more confident in a reasonably safe way.

I would say that this technique is applicable for 90% or more of people I have come across. For them, the idea is to reawaken that forgotten instinct; I must improve to survive.

A few people are best thrown into the deep end and left to drown; if you’ve chosen properly, they won’t.

They can swim on their own; they will adapt, evolve, and swim their way to a successful outcome, no matter what. If you try to spoon feed these people or, God forbid, pay no attention to their professional development at all, you’ll lose them.

Unlike an average employee, this rare breed typically lives in the “I must improve to survive” zone already; you need to awaken nothing. They get it, and if you don’t get that they get it, that is a mistake on your part.

Of course, some people are best left alone as they possess no desire to grow or change; they want to clock in, clock out and get paid. If they perform adequately and meet the needs of the organization, they are probably best left alone. For some positions, these people are very valuable; some jobs are boring and monotonous, period, and if you can find someone that does not care either way and keep them for the long term, that’s better than burning through a constant stream of people who are after growth.

In summary, reflect upon your corporate culture and ask yourself whether or not it reflects the concept of challenge. Do you give your employees the ability to grow and evolve by challenging them to improve? Do your managers adequately convey this? Are you sure you’re adequately challenging your superstars? Are you doing this across your entire organization or just in a few departments?

If you’d like a hand with evaluating and implementing some strategies to build a better team, get in touch. We’d love to chat.

Have I challenged you adequately?