Gallup, the group behind CliftonStrengths, discussed the importance of knowing employee’s strengths in their “State of the American Workplace” report. While there may be bias, since they provide a tool to measure strengths, the value of it is worth exploring.
They said, “Committing to building strengths-based connections will result in a healthier, more engaged, better-coached culture when the pandemic is over. Organizations and leaders may need to step up development initiatives -- especially for managers -- to get there, but the results are worth it. Strength-based workplaces are proven to be significantly more collaborative and inclusive.”
Halelly Azulay, author of Strength to Strength and creator and host of The TalentGrow Show leadership podcast, sees value in measuring strength for employees. Azulay says, “You can be happier and fulfill your greatest potential when you work to your strengths. And, you'll do a better job for your employer. Western society tends to harp on finding and correcting weaknesses and blind-spots. We need to shift that habit. Instead of focusing your energy and time on correcting your weaknesses, work to neutralize them. Spend your precious energy and limited time on cultivating your strengths instead, because that is where flourishing will happen. No one ever flourishes by focusing all their efforts on things they don't do well and don't enjoy.”
Unfortunately, there are still companies that primarily focus on the negatives - or weaknesses of employees - in performance reviews. Even when positive feedback is given about their strengths, most employees pay no attention to it. Lydia Loizides, the founder of Talentedly, explains, “Employees hyper-focus on the thing they do poorly, derailing any impact the positive feedback could have had, negatively impacting engagement, and hampering productivity. Management should focus on developing core known elements of productive teams like influential communication and psychological safety.”
Azulay commented on the benefits of knowing strengths for leaders, stating “Savvy leaders capitalize on the diversity of strengths in their teams and amplify each team member’s capacity to work to their strengths. When it’s appropriate and necessary to use a team to accomplish work, we have a division of labor that allows us to leverage the strengths of each member. Everyone contributes differently and that means that the task or project is accomplished more capably and competently than if it had been left up to a single individual with their unique limitations.”
Karen Oakey, Director of Human Resources for Fracture, provides an example of how they use strengths in their company. “Fracture organically leans into and leverages everyone’s strengths both from the role perspective and professional behaviors,” said Oakey. “Tapping into employees' strengths allows the management to better understand how to keep them engaged, regardless of where they sit. This is a challenging extra layer to stay on top of in this new remote work environment, so managers should partner with their HR team to gain additional insights. Companies that don’t tap into the natural strengths and passions of their employees are leaving potential on the table. A best practice is to foster the relationship for continuous feedback which includes outlining each team member's strengths as well as areas for potential improvement. This encourages continued professional development. Fully comprehending each employee's strengths (and weaknesses) facilitates the creation of balanced personalized success strategies for your team.”
Tory Gray, CEO & Digital Marketing Strategist with The Gray Dot Company, also shared an example from her business. In the past, her marketing agency had team members do a bit of everything. For example, running an SEO campaign meant searching keywords, planning articles, and writing or helping write the articles. What she realized was that team members were better at different things. Gray says, “We had everyone focus on their strong area - which meant everyone now had to cooperate a lot more. The only way you could do a good job was by communicating and working as a team. This helped bring our organization together.”
Neal Taparia, with Unscrambled Words, agrees with this approach. “Focusing a team on building around their strengths is critical,” said Taparia. “It helps the organization meet business goals, as you are splitting responsibilities based on who can best deliver on business needs. When this happens, you show the team what their strengths are and how they will come together to meet a common goal. Not only does everyone hold each other accountable, but you're able to see the quality of each other's work, creating a benchmark on how everyone can improve in their respective areas.”
Recognizing employees for their strengths creates a domino effect, benefiting the business as whole. Ian Kelly, VP of Operations for NuLeaf Naturals, said “employees start identifying themselves for their strengths. This increases their sense of value and self-worth in every employee. Such an atmosphere is fertile for sprouting the best of human potential.” And when people are motivated to do their best, everyone benefits.