How to discover individual strengths and develop a strong team
Tom Rath is the author of StrengthsFinder 2.0. He writes that “people who… have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three          times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.”When people are engaged at work, they’re more productive. The Canadian Human Resources Centre noted that only 25 percent of employees are actually engaged, and that the North American business economy loses more than $350 billion annually due to disengaged employees. Can you imagine what that may mean for your agency? Furthermore, engaged employees who use their strengths are less likely to leave, which improves retention and is likely to enhance your recruitment efforts as well.Identify individual strengths
Strengths start as innate talents, a proclivity to behave or think a certain way. Then, over time, that talent is solidified by other skills, acquired knowledge and constant practice. Capitalizing on those strengths will help improve your bottom line.

Often, we focus on improving our “weaknesses,” but research indicates that by instead focusing on strengths and building well-rounded teams that capitalize on each person’s unique abilities, greater productivity can be had. According to the Gallup Business Journal®, “If companies want to increase productivity, they must … help [employees] use their strengths with knowledgeable intent.”

But before your team members can use their strengths, they have to identify them. One cost-effective way to identify strengths is to watch for signs of excitement and increased engagement throughout the day. Visible signs of excitement emerge when pupils dilate, the chest broadens, and speech becomes fast and fluid.

Another option is to register for an online assessment. One option Entrepreneur.com recommends is the VIA Character Strength Assessment. However, Gallup has come up with an online assessment tool to identify peoples’ strengths, too. It’s called the Clifton StrengthsFinder test. There you can learn about how to “develop people, maximize potential and achieve success.”

Once you’ve had your team identify their strengths individually, it’s time to put those strengths to work.

  • Share the knowledge. Each person needs to share his or her strengths with the team and discuss how those strengths can benefit the agency as a whole. Take time for your team to learn about each other’s strengths and the advantages those offer. Imprint everyone’s name and strengths on magnets or mouse pads for their office as a reminder and guide to pairing the right strengths with the right projects. Additionally, use motivational banners, table tents or posters around the office to inspire the team to use their strengths every day.
  • Make it part of the culture. When you see employees actively utilizing their strengths in ways that are helping the agency grow, reward them with a multi-function tool kit that says it’s clear they are using their “tools” to get the job done!
  • Ask them to report back. Drive the “strengths” message home by asking your employees to give you feedback on how they think they’re doing at manifesting their strengths, something they can record in a small notepad. Also, include strengths-based performance expectations in your team’s annual reviews. Hold your team accountable and watch them shine.

Ultimately, their individual strengths will help drive the entire agency to bigger and better things. It may take some time for “the strengths” idea to get off the ground, but once your employees are given the chance to become great at what they’re already good at, there will be no stopping them—or your agency.

“Using Your Strengths: How to Harness Your Natural Gifts for Greater Satisfaction.” Using Your Strengths: How to Harness Your Natural Gifts for Greater Satisfaction. The Personal Growth Library, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2013.

Employee Engagement.” Canadian Human Resources Centre. Web. 5 Jan.2013.

Asplund, Jim, and Nikki Blacksmith. “How Strengths Boost Engagement.” Gallup Business Journal, n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2012.

Goodman, Nadia. “4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths” Entrepreneur.com. 4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths | Entrepreneur.com, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 03 Jan. 2013.

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