At one point, you saw potential in your employees. In fact, that’s exactly why you hired them. Out of the candidate pool that you were presented with, you chose them because their work history, training, and impressive accolades all pointed to the potential for success in your company.

Other than hiring them and giving them the opportunity to work for your company, have you played a role in helping them to grow, improve and succeed? If you haven’t, you may be responsible for supporting their complacency. Use the following steps to help employees get out of their rut and start working towards reaching their full potential.


  1. Keep your door open: The first step in helping employees reach their full potential is creating a culture of open communication in the workplace. Make your office and your demeanor welcoming so that employees are confident in coming to you with challenges, ideas, and feedback. Make yourself assessible and you will find out what is holding them back (fear, complacency, etc.) and how to create growth opportunities that will push them outside of their comfort zone.
  2. Push employees: Employees tend to gravitate towards the tasks and responsibilities in which they are confident. However, allowing employees to only perform within their comfort zone leads to complacency and failure to reach potential. If you feel that an employee is stagnant in their career due to fear of risk, assign them work that they can handle but wouldn’t typically try without a nudge from their manager.
  3. Become a mentor: Don’t assign your employees new and difficult tasks just to sit back and watch to see if they will sink or swim. Provide encouragement, feedback and advice while allowing them to make mistakes and learn from their failures. Resist the urge to micromanage as they struggle through professional growing pains and they will be stronger employees as a result.
  4. Incorporate failure into the learning process: Your employees will fail. It’s an inevitable part of the learning process as they are trying new things. What will motivate them to get up and try again is how you respond to those failures. As their manager and their mentor, turn their failures into learning experiences rather than fireable offenses.
  5. Offer trainings: Despite being a manager, you are not an expert in all areas (and are not expected to be). When you are presented with an employee who needs direction beyond your own knowledge base, guide them to a coworker who possesses the skill set they need help with, bring training into the office or encourage them to seek out training opportunities that will help them to expand their skills and knowledge.


If complacency has taken over your office, use these steps to uncover that potential that you saw in your employees when you chose to hire them. Challenges and changes, along with your guidance, will prevent employees from losing interest in their work and productivity from suffering as a result.