Identify The Core Strengths of Your Team Members

Identifying the core strengths of members of your team can be a real challenge. 

After all, if you simply ask the question “what do you regard as your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” you put your employee on the spot.  It’s an uncomfortable question and you can’t necessarily rely on the information you get.

The question above is one of the most commonly asked in an interview, but honestly, the only way to really know the answer is to take the time to get to know each and every one of your employees. 

Watch them in action.  Watch how they respond to a wide range of stressors and challenges. 

That takes time and patience but in the end, it will give you the information you’re after.

It matters because study after study has shown that groups are at their most effective when managers specifically emphasize an employee’s core strengths and build on them, rather than offering up additional training designed to cover a weakness.

Even better, many employees may not recognize their own core strengths and managers who take the time to point them out to their employees reliably see productivity improvements in the neighborhood of 7-8% as employees embrace their core strengths.

The two keys here then are recognition and appreciation.  Once you’ve taken the time to get to know your employees and understand their core strengths, good communication is a must.  Let them know that you’ve noticed their core strengths, whatever they might be.  That covers the recognition angle.

Appreciation can take any number of forms but the two most effective are the granting of greater autonomy and gifts and awards.  If you have an awards program already in place, then you’ve got the infrastructure in place to cover the gifts and awards angle. 

Gifts and awards are a quick and easy way to express your appreciation and studies have shown they have consistent, positive impacts on productivity.  Granting greater autonomy is harder, more difficult and frankly, something that can be a little scary for many managers.  It is well worth doing, however, because it’s something that today’s workforce is looking for.

In years gone by, all managers needed to do was pay a decent wage and employees would be happy, or at the very least, content. 

These days, workers are looking for more than that.  More money is still effective as an incentive, but only to a point. 

Beyond a certain point—and everyone is different and has a different threshold in this regard—more money does nothing to improve morale or productivity, a fact that has been borne out in multiple studies on the subject.

Autonomy though, that’s where the magic is, and if you want to really connect and plug into the modern workforce, you need to be prepared to grant some to your trusted employees, giving them more freedom to work on projects that they’re most passionate about and have some control over when and how the work gets done.

Letting go can be hard but the managers who have done so have found it to be a fantastic way of taking the productivity of their teams to the next level.