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1 thing CEOs can do to achieve profitable growth – help managers bring employees’ personal best

“How can I achieve profitable growth?” is a question all CEOs are constantly asking themselves. It is fair to say that the likelihood of achieving optimal growth and profitability rises as a company’s workforce is performing at its personal and professional best and It is also true that your front-line managers can be positioned to accomplish just that. There are three parts to this winning equation; it starts by understanding what employees need to perform at their personal best. Next, you need to understand how this changes the expectations of a manager from perhaps what it is today. Finally, you have to be committed to training and empowering front-line managers to deliver on those needs.

Employees bring their best into the workplace and can help CEOs achieve profitable growth when these 5 important conditions exist.


Research shows that high-trust organizations perform better than their competitors. When employees trust the organization they work for, they are more likely to engage proactively in the work. For your employees, their managers are the face of the organization and are best suited to build that trust. Managers have to display transparency and authenticity in how they interact with their teams and as with any relationship, earn employee’s trust.


People have an innate yearning to belong; they may satisfy that need many ways, be it a church, a book club, sports team, etc. When people feel they belong they commit themselves to whatever the mission of the organization is, and that includes their employer. While you don’t want the work environment to feel like a cult, you do want people to feel part of a team with shared goals and accomplishments. To the contrary, when people don’t feel they belong, they are more likely to search for other employment, or simply do the bare minimum they are required to do.


More than ever, workers want to better balance their work life and personal life and are seeking flexible schedules, remote or hybrid options, and even more casual attire when possible. While pay and benefits remain an important incentive, employees want to know that their employer recognizes the importance of their health and happiness at work and outside of work.


Intrinsic motivation comes from oneself and a desire to learn, be challenged, or demonstrate achievement, even without reward. Tapping into these motivations is an important tool in bringing top performing employees into the workplace and it starts with hiring. If, for example, one of your managers learns during an interview that the candidate has a strong desire to learn something new, and the position that is open will have a lot of opportunities to learn, then the candidate will be more likely to get fulfillment out of their work.


Reward doesn’t just mean pay and benefits, although those are important extrinsic motivations. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite of intrinsic and requires some external stimuli to trigger a behavior, which may be a reward or recognition of some kind. When managers understand how to use the levers of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, they are more likely to inspire top performance in their team members.

Now that you have a roadmap for bringing out the best performance in your employees, how does it change your expectations of managers? Trust, belonging, balance, fulfillment, and reward are not likely the focus of front-line managers when they start work each day, but it can be. Once your frontline managers understand their role helping employees meet these needs, it will be a big step forward in optimizing growth, profitability, and performance. Supporting managers by clarifying these new expectations is important and it can start by letting them know they are process experts and managers, but also people coaches. Their knowledge and influence over processes is one expertise many of them may already have, but how to coach employees and help them get what they need from work might be a very different skill set.

What can CEOs do to achieve profitable growth?

You know what employees need to perform at their best, and you know that frontline managers are best positioned to deliver on those needs. There is a shift in expectations, and it is an important time to equip existing and new managers with the skills they need to coach their teams for success. The data suggests that Investments in leadership training are increasing but without the commensurate improvements in impact; this is largely due to program design not being aligned with specific company needs, nor recognizing that half of the global workforce are now millennials and Gen Zers, who require a more tailored and tech-enabled form of engagement. Leadership training should be designed to turn managers into coaches because that is what employees are wanting; without it, engagement and retention suffer. Programs should be designed that give managers the soft skills needed to build trust and create a sense of belonging to a team. They have to display authentic respect for work-life balance in an actionable way. Managers also have to become motivational experts by learning how to detect aligned intrinsic motivations during hiring, as well as being a stakeholder in designing the company’s reward systems.

People aren’t easy; we are complex beings who want to belong, have purpose, thrive in our relationships, and be recognized for our efforts. Work alone, is not how we meet these needs, but it is certainly a large part of it. More forward-thinking companies are beginning to put the needs of their employees first and are seeing the positive effects on the overall growth and success of the company.


CEOs must ensure these 5 important conditions are created to help managers get the best out of the employees and achieve profitable growth. Making the shift from a more traditional model of frontline management that monitors people and processes, to a renovated model that turns managers into process experts and people coaches, requires a committed investment. Start by talking to your frontline managers and asking them how they are spending their time. Get a strong sense of where the gaps in their skills might be and how much time is being spent on things that take them away from supporting their teams. Design a training program that has specific measurable outcomes and then continue to refine it based on those measures. Use a leadership assessment tool that will let you know what your employees feel about their managers. Your investment will reap a substantial reward.  

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