Thomas John Watson Sr., who was the chairman and CEO of IBM from 1914 to 1956, was asked once if he would fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $ 600,000.

“I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” he said.

Great companies nurture people. They have begun to spend on people initiatives more every year. The debate today is not about the amount of money spent. It is about the quality of work environment for the people.

Is it enough to just assign work and carry out year-end performance reviews? Experts believe that a company’s primary objective towards employees is to help them achieve their goals. But they need to balance the thin line between involvement and control. Experts advocate a supportive autonomy where managers act as collaborators in the goals of their employees.

Here are a few ways businesses can create an environment of growth and development:

Link employee goals to company goals: The organisation’s ambitions need to be tied with employee goals. If employees don’t understand how their work impacts the success of the company, they can quickly become disengaged. For instance, let’s look at how Google encourages its employees. In Google, there’s a concept called 20% time. In a week, an employee can dedicate twenty per cent of his/her time on any personal projects which would benefit the company. “This empowers employees to be more creative and innovative,” say Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their IPO letter. Major successes like Google News, Gmail and AdSense are the products of this concept.

Challenging but attainable goals: For managers, goal setting is an essential process in motivating employees. Employees need to focus on clear finish lines. It creates a sense of purpose in their daily work. Management studies talk about setting SMART goals for employees. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. If a goal is too simple, employees get bored after a while. It would be a waste of company’s resources. On the other hand, if the goal is too challenging, employees lose hope and give up. Nobody likes to be a loser. The right amount of challenge and success can motivate employees to give their best.

Guide them to choose their career path: Many companies are slowly opting for a flatter organisational structure. This has been a booster shot for employees’ morale, especially those who are high achievers. A flatter organisation has lesser bureaucracy. This encourages employees to be accountable because their decisions affect the company’s performance. Further, this helps employees to choose how they wish to pursue their careers.

At Bajaj Finserv, individuals can choose their Annual Operating Plan (AOP) at the start of the financial year. This plan tracks which area the employee wants to work in. The organisation offers complete support in terms of logistics and other guidance that may be necessary. Hence, employees are able to choose their own goals and accomplish them as they themselves have decided.

Chart a success plan: After your employee has set his or her goals for the near future, the manager must discuss with employees how they plan to achieve these goals. The employee may come across all sorts of roadblocks once the project begins. It is better to identify potential risks well in time and develop action plans to tackle them. Because targets are not achieved in isolation, Prof. Hill says that managers need to help their people to identify who they are dependent on to achieve those goals.

Rewards: Success should be met with rewards. Pats on the back and words of praise are good, but organisations can’t leave it at that. They need to acknowledge superior results with some kind of reward. Otherwise, employees will come to the conclusion that hard work doesn’t pay. Rewards can either be financial or non-financial. A financial reward could be something like a year-end bonus. Non-financial rewards include gifts or even taking the employee out to a celebratory dinner. At Bajaj Finserv, employees are encouraged by the motto: “Do more, earn more”. Every year, the top achievers are honoured by their induction into the prestigious Excelsior League.