Play to Their Strengths


Do the members of your team enjoy working with you?  Do they arrive at work energized and ready to face the challenges of a new day or week?  Hiring strong team members who are passionate about your organization is not enough to generate high performance.  You have to place each member of the team into a role that makes the most of their abilities.  You have to play to their strengths.

We all have areas of professional strength and weakness based on our personalities and natural talents.  When a member of your team is consistently asked to perform in an area of weakness they become demoralized and eventually burn out.  When you ask that same employee, however, to consistently perform in their area of strength they become a star performer for your organization.  They are energized, excited, and passionate about their job and your leadership.

Successful people generally determine their areas of strength and maximize them in their career.  Think about yourself and your skills.  You know the roles where you shine and the ones that are frankly not the best fit.  As a leader, it is up to you to find the areas of strength of the people you lead and place them in roles that make the most of those strengths.

Discover the Strengths of Your Team

Think about some of your key team members.  Can you immediately identify their areas of strength?  You may be tempted to immediately look to areas of high performance to indicate strength.  Good employees find a way to perform even in areas of weakness. Don’t rely on performance as an indicator.  Challenge yourself to dig a little deeper.

Observe your team during the normal work week.  When do they appear energized, focused, and excited about their work?  What conversation topics bring out their passion and active engagement?  These are keys to their strength areas.

Match your observations with results from assessments like DISC or Myers-Briggs.  These assessments give you and your team member key insights as to motivation and focus.  Discuss your observations and the assessments with the individual and together determine areas of strength.

Place Them in the Right Role

Sometime during the discussion about strengths and aptitudes, ask your team member this question:  “if you could do anything here, what would it be?”  Listen closely to the answers and ask follow up questions to gain understanding.  You will learn a great deal about your team.

Obviously it is impossible to just immediately assign everyone to a role they fit well in.  Some tasks must be completed regardless of fit.  You may not have an immediate need for a particular skill or talent.  If your organization is like most, however, there are adjustments you can make to each job description to capitalize on the strengths of the person in the role.

Perhaps you have projects that will challenge an analytical mind.  Maybe you can find ways to harness a team member’s natural creativity.  Are there areas where you can develop leadership ability or make use of a talent for organization?  Think creatively about the work at hand and be willing to blur the lines of existing job descriptions a bit.

Consider strengths when creating a career path for individual team members.  You may not be able to move them from their current role immediately, but you can certainly promote when the time comes into an area of strength.  If a team member is strong in an area but lacks the appropriate training to allow you to use that strength, consider offering training in the role.

Return on Investment

Placing people in the right positions is a challenge.  Sometimes you will move individuals two and three times before you find their niche, their ideal role in your organization.  Evaluation and training can be a big investment of time and resources.  You have to be dedicated to and engaged in the process.

This effort really does make a huge difference to your organization.  In return for your investment your team will perform at an incredible level.  Morale and motivation increase along with performance.  The truth is that having the best players is not enough.  You have to have them in the right positions to have maximum impact.

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