Each member of your workforce brings strengths to their job that are unique to them. What you may not realize is that most people are not fully aware of their strengths, and many times focus too acutely on improving what they perceive are their weaknesses. One of the greatest things leaders can do for an organization is to create an environment that both recognizes and appreciates the strengths of employees and helps them focus their energy on activities that use and build upon their strengths. This not only helps employees reach their full potential, but can even help employees work together more effectively.
“When we focus solely on our weaknesses, we begin to doubt ourselves and wonder why we can’t do what others around us seem to do so naturally.”
In one way or another, all of us have had to adapt and acquire new skills to fit into our work environment, and for many of us it can feel like a struggle. When we focus solely on our weaknesses, however, we begin to doubt ourselves and wonder why we can’t do what others around us seem to do so naturally. No amount of “fixing” our weaknesses will give us the momentum we need to reach our potential. Over time as we adapt to our environment and take on roles that are expected of us, we can become disconnected from our innate strengths and the things that internally motivate us, slowing down our growth and inhibiting our ability to reach our full potential.
As a leader, your solution to this universal problem is quite simple. Help your workforce get back in touch with what they are good at and what they enjoy. Even better, do it in a format that allows them to see and learn about the strengths of their colleagues as well. As people talk about their strengths, what they value, and their unique way of viewing the world, the positive energy within the group will palatably rise.
“Even using our strengths in small doses goes a long way to increasing our satisfaction and engagement in what we do.”
The benefits of this type of exercise are twofold.
First, individuals will benefit from the reconnection they experience with their unique strengths. Leadership in the organization should take the opportunity to speak with them about their strengths and what opportunities they have in their job to use them. They don’t have to be huge tasks, even using our strengths in small doses goes a long way to increasing our satisfaction and engagement in what we do. If there aren’t many opportunities to use those strengths, help them create some. When leaders put effort into helping employees explore how they can use their strengths in their job, employees will begin to feel more connection between what they do and what makes them happy.
Second, the organization as a whole will begin to evolve as employees use the new knowledge and understanding they have of each other to work together and communicate more effectively. Groups who were often at odds will start to find humor in the vast differences in the way they view the world. They will not begin to view the world the same way, but the awareness of these differences in perception are so important to the start of real communication. Awareness of the differences between people can affect interactions in many ways – how people approach and communicate with one another, how they praise or motivate one another, or even how people are chosen for certain projects or tasks.
What we do naturally is what makes us happy.
We can all grow and learn to do new things. Great employees can stretch their abilities and accomplish many things outside of their comfort zone. This type of growth is healthy and important to both employees and the organization as a whole. It is critical, however, that employees be allowed and encouraged to grow also in the areas where their greatest strengths and interests lie. This is not only for the employee’s benefit. A person who continues to improve in areas that come naturally to them will tap into an internal motivation that will keep them growing and becoming more productive. Increased productivity makes them feel engaged and valued, and that in turn, feeds their motivation. In addition, a work environment in which people are understood and appreciated for their unique strengths goes a long way in creating an efficient and cohesive team.