Do you know what your strengths are? What about the people in your team? Are you aware of how playing to our strengths influences your performance?
Although many studies have shown the benefits of focusing on people’s strengths, we still live in a ‘weaknesses focused’ world.
In my rugby days, I had a coach who used to say, “Maximise your strengths, and manage your weaknesses.”
While we shouldn’t neglect our weaknesses, it’s our strengths that make us unique and deserve more emphasis and focus. As leaders, we can increase our performance and engagement by bringing people’s strengths into the spotlight and collectively building on them.
Gallup has found that building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses. When employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, perform better, and are less likely to leave their company.
DISCOVERING OUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Definition of a Strength: “A good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person.”
They are qualities that come naturally to you, that you enjoy, and give you energy. It can also be any type of quality, such as kindness, optimism, …
Unfortunately, sometimes we limit ourselves by our thinking or by social standards without realising it.
As David Rendall says: “In the right situation, your weaknesses become your strengths.”
A great example is Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne, a software testing company, where 75% of its staff are autistic.
After his son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he started to study people with autism and their role in the workforce. He realised that the skills of people with autism matched the desired skills of a software tester.
His motivation to give his son better opportunities allowed him to look at strengths and weaknesses from a different perspective.
THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING AND PLAYING TO OUR STRENGTHS
Playing to our strengths means using them daily and as often as possible every day. This has positive effects for the individual:
- Improve your self-confidence and energy.
- Drive engagement and quality of life.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
But also for our teams. According to studies; teams who focused on developing their people’s strengths and provided opportunities to use them daily have reported significant benefits:
- 36.4% increase in people’s performance.
- Up to 19% increase in sales.
- 50% lower employee turnover.
- 38% higher level of productivity.
HOW TO BUILD A TEAM THAT FOCUSES ON STRENGTHS
“To build a strong team, you must see someone else’s strength as a complement to your weakness, not a threat to your position or authority.” – Christine Caine.
If we believe everyone is unique and has something to offer, it’s easier to work together rather than compete against each other. Think of it as if we all were pieces of a puzzle. To be able to complete it, we need to find people who complement each other.
These are some ideas of how I build a team that focuses on strengths:
For the majority of us, it’s easier to identify our weaknesses than our strengths. Sometimes we are unsure what they may be, others we maybe don’t want to seem ‘braggy’.
First, we need to identify everyone’s talents, not only what they are excellent at but also what tasks they enjoy. This way, we make sure everyone feels motivated and engaged.
Then, we need to make everyone aware. As a group, spend time getting to know each other’s strengths and how they add value to the team.
Assign teams and projects based on strengths
Knowing each team member’s strengths and weaknesses can connect people who can complement and help each other grow.
It can also help collaboration by understanding who is the best person to ask for help in every situation.
Focus on developing people’s strengths
When we know our best qualities, our growth can be exponential. In addition, investing in people’s development requires you to know their strengths so that you can help find the proper progression for each person.
Sometimes companies invest time, money and resources on development opportunities that people are not interested in. Providing the correct development will help people be more invested and engaged with their jobs and companies.
Find talent that fills the gaps
Knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses can help you reduce turnover and recruitment costs. By being aware of precisely what you need, you can be more accurate when recruiting your next talent.
You should focus on finding someone who complements and fits your team and not someone who ticks the standard CV or interview boxes.
Implement a strength-based company culture
To ensure long-lasting changes, you can integrate strengths development into your company culture, creating a strength-based culture.
Including the individuals and team strengths into your company culture is a way of making sure that everyone is looking towards helping each other grow. It will also help collaboration and teamwork.
THE OPTIMIST VIEW
We aim to build teams where every individual can leverage their talent and their unique ability. To do this, we need to find out what we are great at, what motivates us and how it can add value to our lives and jobs.
We love to work with highly motivated and engaged people that collaborate and work as a team to achieve common goals. Everyone has something to offer, and the first step is to find out what that is.