Don't look now, but the holiday season will be here before yu know it. Very soon, many of you are thinking about two things: gifts and goals for next year. I’d like to give you some great business ideas that attack both of these challenges.

The best gift you can give yourself and your organization, is the gift of a passionate workplace. We spend most of our waking hours at work, and yet, most of us dread getting up in the morning to go to work. Imagine you (and your employees) thinking of work as an exciting hobby they actually look forward to! What would that do to your morale? What impact would that have on your competitive advantage?

Companies can maximize the passion and productivity of their employees by employing four breakthrough concepts:

1. Acceptance
The first step is to accept that we’re all different.

Do you adhere to the adage that all employees should be treated equally? If so, your employees will never achieve their true potential, and never be truly happy in their work.

Each one of your employees has different strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals, motivations and learning styles. By understanding and acting on these differences you will be able to bring the best out of your team.

We should all forget the golden rule which states, “Treat others as you would want to be treated”, and replace it with the performance breakthrough rule which states “Treat others as they would want to be treated”.

2. Leverage
Focus on, and leverage the strengths of each individual on your team.

Focusing on weaknesses might help an employee become a bit more “well rounded”, however, being “well rounded” is incredibly overrated. Employees will rarely become strong in an area of weakness. The best we can hope for is that they will rise to become mediocre. However, where an employee has talent, they can become world-class. In addition, focusing on maximizing those areas where we have true talent is incredibly motivating.

This doesn’t mean we should ignore weaknesses. By all means, if weaknesses are getting in the way of doing the job, you need to find ways to manage around those weaknesses. These can include looking for ways to get them to acceptable levels of performance, changing their responsibilities or counseling them out of your organization. But don’t expect them to become “expert” tomorrow in those areas they’re weak in today.

Your return on investment will be significantly greater by focusing the employee’s efforts on continuing to build on their talents by adding new knowledge, experience and tools. Would you rather have a “well rounded” employee or a world-class employee?

3. Impact
Define outcomes, not steps. Be participatory, not dictatorial.

Conventional management wisdom says you’ll get the most out of your employees by defining specific goals and detailed procedures for getting there. This is only half right. Creating challenging goals is critical, however, let your employees figure out how to get there.

Most of us know it’s the people on the front lines who truly understand the best way to get things done. Defining every detailed procedure for them not only stifles their motivation and creativity, but also lowers the chance they’ll create breakthrough performance.

If you’ve hired the right people and given them the tools necessary to do the job, you should give them the freedom to get the job done. Giving them ownership will allow them to reach their true potential.

4. Celebration
There’s a reason why teams play better in front of a home town crowd. There’s a reason why stand up comics feed off the laughter of the crowd. Appreciation works!

Find ways to measure and reward positive outcomes. Compliment and celebrate your teams’ accomplishments big and small. Reward activity, not just monetized performance.

There’s no such thing as too much praise as long as it’s genuine.

While these concepts are simple, they can be complex to execute. The first step is to ensure you have managers that buy-in, and have the ability to make these ideas real. Remember, they say people quit managers, not companies.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Goldman spent 17 years consulting to Fortune 500 companies and is a writer, speaker and coach in the areas of leadership and workforce strategies. He has consulted for companies like Disney, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Kmart, Dillard's, Liz Claiborne and Levi Strauss. He is currently the President of Performance Breakthrough, a company that works with business owners, senior executives and managers to improve results through coaching, development and planning. His focus is on building the attitudes, behavioral management skills, and goal achievement processes necessary to achieve breakthrough results for teams and individuals.