We all have worked with or employed people who, for a myriad of reasons, don’t do their jobs well. Hopefully these people are the minority in your organization.

I honestly believe people want to succeed at their jobs. They don’t just want to do well, they want to excel.

It is your job as a leader to set your employees up to succeed by laying the foundation for their excellence.

Here are 12 ways to help your employees succeed:

1. Set policies

I hate the idea inundating employees with policies, however, you need a set of basic policies and procedures by which you operate. They should be updated regularly and communicated openly with employees.

You cannot expect your employees to read your mind. They have to know what’s expected of them.

Also, you must always follow your policies. You can’t just push them aside when they’re inconvenient, otherwise, they don’t mean anything.

If you’re unsure how to write policies, my Pub Manual 101 series can help.

2. Communicate openly

Communication is one of the most common workplace issues. I’ve even found this to be true in newsrooms where pretty much everyone is a professional communicator. Your employees can’t read your mind. You must communicate openly and often with them.

3. Document frequently

When an employee goes above and beyond, document it. When an employee isn’t performing up to par, document it. You can use these clear, specific examples to make decisions later. You may think you will remember them, but you won’t. Have a file that you use just for this purpose.

4. Guard your reputation

A person’s reputation really is all she has. You represent your organization and your staff. Do not do or say anything you wouldn’t want them to do or say.

Also, take care of issues as they arise. Failure to do so will result in you losing credibility with your staff.

5. Be professional

You are the leader. You must always act professionally in the workplace. This means looking, acting and communicating professionally at all times.

Do not whine or complain. You set the tone for the rest of the staff.

Also, do not gossip about others. This makes your staff wonder if you’re doing the same about them.

Finally, understand the power of the pause. My immediate response to many negative situations is anger. I know this about myself, so I force myself to pause and breathe (sometimes for 24 hours) before I respond. This helps me put the situation in context and respond professionally instead of just lashing out.

6. Praise often

Praise employees who do their jobs well. Be specific about what you’re praising and do it publicly. People love to hear what they do well. It’s motivating, and they are likely to model that positive behavior in the future.

7. Apologize readily

I don’t want an employee who doesn’t make mistakes. There is no such thing as a perfect person, which means people who never make mistakes probably aren’t trying anything innovative. They’re just going through the days, satisfied to collect a paycheck for a status quo performance. Innovative employees try things that don’t work. They make mistakes. When you make a mistake, apologize and move on.

8. Forgive immediately

When your employees make a mistake and apologize for it, let it go. Your employees are people, just like you. Treat their errors the way you want yours to be treated.

9. Help out

When your staff comes to you for help, make sure they get what they need. Follow up with them. Never leave a promise unfulfilled, which will create resentment.

10. Care most

I can’t remember who is responsible for the quote “Give a damn. Give more damns than anyone else,” but it’s applicable here. Care about your staff. Care about your audience. Care about your mission and communicate it with your staff. Let your caring show through your work. Caring is contagious.

11. Model behavior

Identify great leaders or strong characteristics of leadership and model those behaviors. This will work both ways. Your staff will begin to do this as well.

12. Practice daily

There is no such thing as perfect leadership because there is no such thing as a perfect person. I honestly work on leadership every day because I believe that strong leaders are built and learn from their mistakes.

People want to succeed, and even excel, at their jobs. It’s your job as a leader to help them succeed. I hope this post gives you some ideas about how to do that.