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Uncovering Employee Strengths and Applying Them to Your Team

Two women in an office giving each other a high five - employee strengths

It makes sense that employees will work better and be more engaged if you as a manager are playing to their strengths. How do you figure out what they’re best at?

Here are some ways to help you find out what your employee strengths are and how to use those talents to benefit your whole team.

1. Observe employee strengths. We often take the time to observe employees if we suspect them of doing something wrong. What if the observation was purely to see when your employees are at their best? Take note of these moments and align them with what they spend most of their time doing. If you make appropriate changes, it will pay off.

2. Encourage employees to share their strengths. After you determine your employee’s strengths, make sure they share those talents with others on the team. An article from Harvard Business Review outlined some ways to encourage employees to speak up, including modeling candor and creating an ownership culture. Even though what you want them to discuss is positive, if negative issues come out, be prepared to deal with them as well.

3. Match up people with varying strengths. How often are we still building teams full of similar personalities and skills, and then watching their demise because there are gaping holes? Once you understand the varied strengths of your team members, build teams that speak to that variety, and be strategic about what you see people doing. It’s not wrong to guide the process a bit.

4. Reward strengths. This isn’t Little League – you don’t have to give participation trophies to everyone. But when you do see people utilizing their strengths in ways that are positive to a project, a team member, or the company as a whole, it’s worth marking that noteworthy moment with some sort of reward. Acknowledgement brings out the best in your workers. Lack of acknowledgement won’t have anywhere near the same result.

It’s not always easy to measure employee strengths. They are intangible, and therefore much different than measuring against deadlines or other metrics. But you’ll find that playing to what makes your employees tick will benefit you, them, and your organization.