As a manager, you want to optimize your team so everyone plays to their strengths, increasing engagement, productivity, and lower attrition rates. Sounds easy right? This guide gives you practical steps on how to help your team identify their strengths, and leverage these as a team.

What are strengths?

Strengths are when you combine your natural talents with experience. Talents are natural ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. You can notice your talents by looking at which activities provide satisfaction and delight, what activities keep you energized, learn rapidly and what makes you say, “I’d like to do that again”.

How we choose to apply our talents makes them a strength or a weakness.

In one study, Gallup found that employees feel more confident, self-aware, and productive when focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. Most people (up to two-thirds) do not have a meaningful awareness of their strengths and if they do, more often than not these are underutilized.

How to find your strengths

Follow these steps to identify, develop, and grow your team's abilities.

Step One: Ask for Feedback

The best way to recognize each other's strengths is to simply ask! You can run an Ask for Feedback exercise with your team to help create awareness of each other’s strengths. Each individual can send out a feedback request to find out the answer to one question:

  • What do you think am I best at OR When am I at my best?

Step Two: Increase visibility

Once the feedback has been shared, you can run a team exercise to increase visibility on each other’s strengths. Ask each team member to prepare the following before the meeting:

  • My strength is _____________
  • The way it adds value is ___________
  • One way I could use it more is ___________

Step 3: Orchestrate your team’s strengths

Once you and your team are aware of each other’s strengths, the real gold is in learning how to apply and leverage different individual strengths to maximize team success. Remembering that how individual strengths manifest is dependent upon each unique constellation of a person’s top strengths. How the team succeeds is dependent upon how all of those collective strengths are understood, balanced, and expressed.

Here are some practical steps on how to do it:

  1. Understand that natural talents help frame our perspectives. By discovering our own and teammates' talents it provides an understanding of where a team member is coming from and clarity for achieving common goals. Team members then know to give their best and create a culture that gives permission for others to do the same.
  2. Find opportunities for team members to practice their strengths. By increasing your team members' visibility and frequency of their strengths, it creates a positive feedback loop, where more people in the company know your direct report’s strength, which creates more opportunities making them more energized and experienced in their strength.
  3. Provide specific feedback through the lens of each team members' strengths. This can lead to increased productivity and company growth. Encourage your team to send praise when you see each other performing their strengths, highlighting the value they bring to the team and company.

Summary

The first step of a strengths-based team requires awareness about what each other's strengths are. In practice it means much more than everyone working on their strong points; it requires a deep knowledge of each team member's strengths and weaknesses and, importantly, the orchestration of those strengths and weaknesses to fit the goals of the team. Understanding how people’s strengths are different and can respectively work off of each other uncovers blind spots and creates a much stronger and well-rounded team.

Help your team find their super strengths! 💪

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