How to Use Leadership Strengths and Strategies to Empower Your Employees
Today’s competitive workplace demands dynamic leadership. Without it, businesses and their employees suffer because they are not operating at their fullest potential. Employees need to grow to realize their maximum output — and it’s up to their leaders to empower them by recognizing their strengths.
People development is where everyone wins. When employees feel empowered and supported, they are more engaged and motivated in their work. The result is a domino effect that positively impacts the bottom line.
Studies show that engaged employees outperform those not engaged by up to 202%. And that companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies that do not provide developmental assistance.
A leader’s job is to recognize people’s strengths and put them into roles that have the most impact. Yet, managers are often more concerned with meeting goals than taking time to discover what makes each person a valuable asset to the team.
To empower your employees, you need a deeper understanding of who they are, their strengths, motivations, and how they work best.
Identify What Skills and Strengths Most Benefit Your Team
Before you start analyzing individual employees, you need to grasp what specific strengths would benefit your team and organization the most.
For example, if you have a complex project coming up that requires intensive attention to detail — and your last hire just “wasn’t the right fit” — you need someone who is an ace at managing a lot of moving parts. Ideally, this would be an employee with technical expertise and extreme attention to detail. They would be objective, thorough, and committed to getting everything right.
Or maybe you have a client who is demanding, impatient, and critical. The ideal employee to hand this client off to would be calm under pressure and able to handle the client’s scrutiny with patience. They are most likely empathetic with a knack for offering excellent customer service.
Only you know what your organization needs, but here are a few common strengths that can benefit most teams:
- Direct Communication: easily relates to others, can give and take direction.
- Detail Oriented:conscientiousness about high standards, following rules accurately.
- Planning: thoroughness in preparing; follows through with reliable execution.
- Organizing: manages multiple tasks; prioritizes well and meets deadlines effectively.
- Creative Problem Solving: finds solutions to issues by exploring new options.
- Tenacity: perseveres when faced with challenges and focuses on getting things done.
Once you’ve identified what skills and strengths benefit your team the most, you can start to measure each of your employees against them.
Identify Individual Employee Strengths
Every employee has strengths. The trick is knowing how to help them excel in their roles.
You can easily spot some strengths by simply observing your employees, but others are more difficult to discern without taking the time to identify them. Some may have strengths that they are not even aware of yet.
Take some time to reflect on each individual’s work history.
- What projects did they take on where they just knocked it out of the park?
- Which ones fell a little flat?
- What tasks do you never have to worry about them handling?
- Which ones do you constantly have to help them with or remind them to do?
Now think about what personality traits seem to be prevalent in each of their strong suits.
- Are they more extroverted and gregarious or introverted and thoughtful?
- Do they thrive when they have plenty of time to devote entirely to a task , or do they perform better with deadlines looming?
- Do tasks come quickly to them, or does it take a lot of effort to accomplish them?
- Do they look for ways to improve a process, or do they follow directions without question?
The more questions you ask yourself about each individual, the more you will notice trends. Uncover what their commonalities are and find ways to make use of them.
Understand How Your Team Members Work Best
How do you know if someone is a good fit in their current role? You need to understand how they work best.
In many cases, your employees will already have a good idea of how they work best — they need to feel safe enough to share it with you. But if you don’t ask them what works for them, you are missing out on crucial information that could make or break their success in the role.
The first step is to ask them what types of tasks they prefer.
- Do they like working in teams or independently?
- Are they more organized or spontaneous?
- When do they feel most productive—early in the morning, the afternoon, or late at night?
- How do they like to communicate—face-to-face, phone, email, text message?
The second step is to find out what motivates them. What gives employees energy and makes them excited to come to work every day? Is it supporting the team? An exciting project? The key is to reward the behaviors that bring out the best in your employees.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask them what they think their strengths are. It could be the same strengths you noticed when thinking about them. Or it could be something that was totally off your radar. Either way, it’s good to note.
Once you know how they like to work and what motivates them, you adjust their role and shift everything from their responsibilities to the way you communicate with them to even their schedule to align with how they work best.
Match Employees With Jobs And Projects That Align With Their Strengths
The goal for every leader should be to create an environment in which employees are constantly growing and learning new skills without being overwhelmed. So as you have identified each team member’s strengths, start to pair them up with tasks and projects that align most closely with their natural skills. And make sure your team knows that they can come to you if a project they’re working on isn’t a good fit.
It takes conscious effort to make room for employees to grow their skill set. So do your best to give them opportunities within the role you created and encourage them to learn new skills.
Next Steps: How To Effectively Empower Your Employees
Now that you know how to spot your team member’s strengths and best align them with tasks and projects, it’s time to put this into practice. Here are a few ways you can start empowering your employees:
- Make a list of each employee’s 3-5 top strengths.
- Make a list of each employee’s primary responsibilities.
- Compare the lists and see where there might be a mismatch.
- If there is a mismatch, consider what tasks or projects you could give to the employee that would better align with their strengths. Also, consider if any other employees would be more equipped to take that task.
- Brainstorm ways to give employees more opportunities to use their strengths within their current roles.
- See if there are any strengths you’re currently missing on your team. If so, start thinking about how you could bring in an employee with those strengths.
No matter how you choose to empower your employees, remember that it should always be a two-way street. Employees should feel comfortable coming to you with suggestions and ideas. So make sure you create an environment where they feel safe and valued.
The more you play to your employee’s strengths, the more effective your team (and organization) will become.
Allison Todd is the founder of Allison Todd Business Coach.
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