Building Ambition Into Your Company Culture

Every manager wants ambitious employees – the kind who are in it for the thrill of the hunt, not just the reward at the end. While sometimes ambitious employees just drop into your lap, often they need to be built. This is far from the easiest thing to do, but neither is it impossible. The key is – as always – having the right approach. In this case, it means incentivising ambition at every level in your company from the newest entry-level employee to the most senior C-suite executive.

It’ll be hard – it won’t happen overnight and it’ll take a lot of pushing from the top down – but the rewards are tremendous. You’ll not only get more from your current workers, but you’ll attract the type of applicants you’ve always wanted – driven, skilled and ready to learn all they can. At Achievers, we’ve learned a few things about building a culture of ambition. Read on and start building a better company today.

Reward vision, not just success

This can be a hard one for managers to come to grips with. Traditionally, an employee would only get a promotion or a cash bonus for following the rules, playing it safe and achieving a positive but predicted outcome.

Building ambition means smashing this whole model. Rewarding vision means giving credit for taking chances; for being the first one to come up with an idea, not just to implement it; for taking risks that could see the company grow. This requires that you be able to trust your employees, so obviously you will need to have strong relationships with them and to be able to understand their thinking. But demonstrating that you’re willing to recognise people who break the mould and are ready to offer the ideas that could make you a market leader – or even create a whole new market – encourages others to look for new paradigms.

Acknowledge that there’s a learning opportunity in everything

Hand in hand with rewarding vision comes learning from failures. ‘Fail faster, fail often’ is a motto in some of the most disruptive companies around the world for a reason, because these organisations recognise the educational opportunity a well thought and properly executed failure can offer.

This doesn’t mean you’re handing out plaques for stuff-ups, more that you recognise that it’s all part of a journey to success. By continuing to show faith in an employee who dreamed big, came up with a new idea, tried their best, showed their work and still didn’t deliver the results, you’re showing that you understand this as an opportunity to refine the process and get closer next time.

Start from day one

From their first day, you need to be giving your employees opportunities to – within reason – enjoy some independence and work outside of the existing, safe paradigm. This change can potentially cause some friction with existing employees who have learned how to play the office politics and get noticed in the traditional way and are now expected to show some creativity, but think of this as a chance for renewal.

If you’re serious about pivoting your business towards a more ambitious culture, there are unfortunately going to be people who won’t fit that. Offer them the time and the energy they’re due as long-serving members of your company, but at the end of the day if they aren’t delivering what you need, you may need to amicably part ways.

A great way to start incentivising people is to introduce the Achievers employee incentive program into your company. Talk to one of our representatives on (03) 9107 4400 to learn how.

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