The Leading with Purpose Blog


Monday, July 17, 2017

Leveraging Team Members' Strengths at Work

Phrases like “You can be anything you want to be,” and “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to,” get thrown around a lot. I heard them a lot myself growing up from friends, family, and teachers. Don’t get me wrong, their intentions were good. I’m all for empowering people and encouraging them to pursue their dreams, but we all have our limitations. Just because a young man or woman practices basketball fundamentals day-in and day-out for hours and hours, doesn’t mean he or she will become as talented as Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant. There has to be a natural set of talents and skillsets in place to help someone reach that kind of potential. And it’s no different in your workplace. Your employees and managers must focus on their unique strengths, and the specific value-adding activities each can bring to your team, if you expect your business to reach its full potential.

The challenge is we focus entirely too much on improving weaknesses. I was in the corporate sector for many years in various positions, including upper-level management, and nearly every time performance reviews were given, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement tended to dominate the conversation. Unfortunately, it was engrained in the corporate cultures. And like so many others, I bought into it. Little did I know at the time, as a young manager, that when you focus on your employees’ strengths, the chance for them to be actively disengaged in the workplace decreases significantly. So, with this in mind, consider the potential one small shift in the way you lead and develop your people could improve and impact your bottom-line.

Leveraging strengths in the workplace begins with an organizational commitment to helping your team members increase their self-awareness. I’ve been saying for years this is where superior performance begins in today’s dynamic business environment. The good news is, there are a number of organizational assessments available in the marketplace that will help you do this effectively with your teams. The challenge lies in which one(s) to choose. So, for the remainder of this column, I’d like to give you some insight and things to consider when choosing an assessment product to help you take your B-Team Players and turn them into Game Changes for your business.
  1. Select assessments that measure multiple dimensions of human performance. In other words, Behaviors, Motivators, and Competencies. Analyzing Behaviors will help you identify ways to communicate more effectively, examine job-person fit, and offer suggestions for improved managerial effectiveness and leadership. Motivators will help you identify what motivates an individual intrinsically to do a job. And lastly, Competencies will show you the talents and skills a team member brings to the job that can be leveraged for superior performance.
  2.  If you plan to use assessments for hiring and talent development purposes, make sure the assessments you choose pass legal and regulatory hurdles. Under the doctrine of Disparate Impact, employers may not use employment practices that disproportionately exclude members of a protected category.
  3. Lastly, you get what you pay for. Assessments are not created equal. Make sure your provider’s assessments are backed by research and have high validity. If they aren’t, not only are they likely to be inaccurate, they may also negatively impact you, your team members, and your business.
In conclusion, helping your team members improve their self-awareness through the use of assessments, not only helps them grow personally and professionally, while focusing on what they do best, it will also help your organization reach its full potential. And that’s a “Win-Win!”