We all know that happy employees equal happy customers. But to stay relevant in today’s workforce, you have to keep learning. So, I try to get my hands on as many tools as possible and then share them with my team.

I recently compiled a book of my favorite excerpts—mostly tips from experts on how to be an effective manager and engage employees.

Here is one excerpt from that book, titled Manage to Lead. I hope it inspires you to try something new today.

The Four Keys: how managers unlock the potential of each employee

As a manager, you need to be able to identity—and then tap into—each employee’s unique talents. According to experts, performance equals being able to speed up the reaction between an employee’s talents, a customer’s needs and the company’s goals.

But be careful not to confuse being a great leader with being a great manager—they are profoundly different skill sets. Leaders look outward at the competition and future goals; they focus on long-term vision and action. Managers, on the other hand, look inward and focus on individuals; they cultivate talent and motivate others toward a common goal.

So, to keep employees engaged, here are four activities to master:

1.      Pick the right person        

2.      Set expectations—and define them

3.      Motivate and encourage the person    

4.      Develop the person by finding the right fit

1. Select the right person based on talent first, then experience, intelligence, determination.

You can’t teach talent; it’s that simple. And talent will transfer from situation to situation. But don’t rely on talent alone; great managers must turn this potential into performance.

2. Set expectations by defining the right outcomes, not the right steps.

As a manager, you don’t have the control you think you do. Employees decide what they do and how they do it. But you can influence, motivate, berate and cajole in the hope that most of your people will do what is asked.

You can’t significantly change people or force everyone to do the job the same way. But you can have them all focus on three key things: 1. what is right for the customer; 2. what is right for the company and 3. what is right for the individual.

3. Motivate the person by focusing on strengths, not on weaknesses.

Again, each person is different. So find and focus on the strengths of each person. To do this as a manager is a conscious act. It is also the most efficient way to help people take responsibility for who they are and help them achieve their goals. Great managers don’t ignore weaknesses; they simply alter their approach. If the poor performance is mechanical, provide the proper tools. If it’s personal, devise a support system or find an alternate role.

4. Develop the person by helping find the right fit, not just the next rung on the ladder.

Steer your employees toward roles where they have the greatest chance of success. Don’t always reward excellence in a role by promoting someone out of it. Sometimes, it’s a better fit to redirect their energies toward growth within their current role.

But most of all, great managers genuinely seem to care about their employees. So if an employee is struggling, it’s uncaring to let them keep working in a role that doesn’t fit. This goes back to talent. If an employee is underperforming, his talents simply don’t match the role. It’s not a matter of weakness, stupidity, disobedience or disrespect.

So, be a great manager. Take an active role in engaging your employees today and preparing them for tomorrow.

Are you a manager? If so, what other ways have you unlocked your employees’ potential? Or if you’re in a support role, how has your manager helped you?