How to Identify and Develop Employee Strengths?
How to Identify and Develop Employee Strengths?
What does it take to be an effective manager or business leader? Empathy’s key, of course. As are fairness and the ability to delegate. Strong communication skills are always essential, and an upbeat attitude (coupled with a dose of emotional resilience) never goes amiss.
Yet these crucial attributes can only take you so far. To truly succeed in a leadership position, you must also be able to identify and develop employee strengths. Doing so allows you to allocate assignments in line with employee strong points, review each team member’s performance more effectively, and deliver relevant training and support to help them succeed.
Ultimately, this indispensable skill enables you to unlock your team’s true potential. In this article, we’re going to teach you how to do it.
How to Define Employee Strengths
When business leaders talk about employee strengths, they’re referring to the specific insights, expertise, skills, personality traits, and talents that enable the employee in question to perform in a role.
Think of it as their most useful skills and personal qualities. If you can identify them, then you can leverage them. If you hone them, then you can maximize the individual’s potential impact within the organization.
Identifying Employee Strengths
Data from Gallup  reveals that employees who learn their strengths are 7.8% more productive. Unfortunately, identifying staff strengths is easier said than done. The following ideas should help:
Engaging in an open and honest conversation with your employees about their strengths and weaknesses, especially during job interviews, is often the most effective place to start. Whether the dialogue takes place in a formal performance review or on a quick trip to the water cooler, this direct approach can elicit swift results.
Having said that, the answers you receive – especially in a more formal scenario like a job interview – won’t always be dependable. Some employees may issue clichéd responses (e.g. “a self-motivated team-player” or "active listening") or embellish attributes in a bid to get a raise. Others may be shy or self-deprecating.
Everything from cultivating an open company culture to revealing your own personal strengths first can help combat that potentiality. You’re also more likely to get honest answers by being real and keeping the conversation relaxed.
If a direct approach fails to provide the answers you need, then try to be a fly on the wall as well. The act of listening and watching your team in action can be equally as (and often even more) revealing! The trick is to be objective; to observe employees as if you’d never met them before.
Ask yourself: where does this individual excel? What character traits shine through? And, more importantly, how might these be put to use for the company's benefit?
Just be careful not to jump to conclusions – especially if you notice problematic or questionable workplace behavior or body language. They might be having a bad day! Taking notes over time will help you recognize behavioral patterns and make more accurate judgments of employee strengths and weaknesses and their work ethic.
The internet’s another powerful avenue for determining employee strong points. For example, it’s now common practice for employers to research their team on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
With self-curated profiles full of information about their likes, experiences, and interests, they can plug gaps in your current understanding of each individual.
Your company’s digital communication channels and intranet are worth looking at for similar reasons. Look at their recent activity, for instance. Whether they’re answering peoples’ questions, leaving supportive messages, or simply more vocal online than in person, it can contain a goldmine of information about who they are.
Developing Employee Strengths
Having identified your employees’ strengths, the next step is to work hard to develop them. Here’s how to do it:
Many managers and business leaders assume their employees already know where their strengths lie. Don’t make the same mistake! You’d be surprised how many people take their abilities for granted and never stop to acknowledge them.
Whether it’s in a one-to-one meeting or a quick compliment during a coffee break, naming those talents out loud is the first step to helping your employees double down on their core competencies. They’ll be able to set appropriate goals in performance reviews, volunteer for particular roles in each project, make developments in their professional life, and more.
Assign Relevant Roles
Because practice makes perfect, it makes sense to assign projects, tasks, and roles within your workforce based on each employee’s strengths.
If someone’s known to be in a perpetual positive mood, you could team them up with an employee who’s harder to work with. Natural diplomats might be well-suited to negotiating with new clients. Brilliant people who can easily solve problems or have incredible knowledge-based skills could be perfect for job duties that focus on handling customer complaints. And so on.
One obvious way to hone someone’s skills is to enroll them on training courses focused on the topic. Common examples include things like teamwork, business leadership, finance, and communication. They may take place within the organization or be delivered externally by a third party.
Offering these types of opportunities for career growth is a powerful way to improve the employee experience too. You end up with a more capable and satisfied workforce – both of which are good for business.
Key Employee Strengths Managers Should Look For
Not all employee strengths are made equal. Here’s a quick-fire list of the most beneficial ones to look out for and develop in your team:
• Strong Communication Skills
• Leadership Skills
• Problem-Solving Skills
• Emotional Intelligence
• Interpersonal Skills
While it might not be the first quality that comes to mind, the ability to identify employee weaknesses and strengths is a crucial part of being an effective leader. Done right, it enables you to assign tasks more effectively, reduce conflict in the office, limit mistakes, and, ultimately, enjoy better business outcomes.
With any luck, the insights in this article will prove useful in this regard. Keep the tips and strategies in mind and it shouldn’t be long before you have a solid understanding of your staff strengths and help each team member attain professional development, improve their talents further and earn new skills.
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