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November 4, 2014

Are You Using Your Team's Strengths Effectively?

By Jeremiah Wright

Are you a business owner wondering how you can unlock hidden potential within your team? Seminars, books, and Youtube videos will do a lot to help, but ultimately the most valuable resource is your employees’ unique strengths.

Everyone has them. Some are learned; Others are inherent. For example, I am a collector; Technically, it’s called Input. One thing I collect is knowledge. My mind is a walking human atlas because I am able to compartmentalize roads, landmarks, and distances and pull them out whenever I need them.

Unlocking your team's strengths can mean the difference between them just working or thriving in your company. Everyone is made up of a unique blend of stengths -- letting your team's shine is going to keep everyone at their very best.

I am a huge fan of the Cliffton Strengthsfinder program, but whether you believe in it, Myers-Briggs, How to Fascinate, or the Four Temperaments, the best way to unlock your team’s potential is to focus on their uniqueness.

I mentioned Input earlier; My next four strengths — Individualization, Maximizer, Context, and Connectedness — factor into everything I do. I have been very blessed to work for companies who recognize my unique strength makeup and have placed me into roles to capitalize on them.

Here are 5 easy ways you can do the same thing:

Incorporate Strengths into your Workflow
Earlier in the year, we had several groups of projects that needed completed. We paired up employees based on their strengths. The analytical minds were to review our marketing insights and report back to the team. The relationship builders were given the task to plan a community event.

Your team will appreciate it when their responsibilities reflect what they are good at.

Individualize Team Roles
This can apply in many different areas, but what is critically important is to remember one size does not fit all. For example, in an education environment one employee may thrive teaching online classes. However, another may prefer the face-to-face classroom interaction with students. Use their strengths to figure this out, and you’ll have a happier, more engaged faculty.

Pair up Team Members with Opposing Strengths
I’m a numbers guy. My focus defaults to figuring out how a project will function, what the impact will be, if it’s sustainable, has it been tried previously, and so on. This operational mindset can seem off putting to someone with more of an futuristic, let’s-go-with-it mentality.

And for this reason, the creative energy when I’m paired with visionary employee is exponential. They force me to think outside the box, and I help to fine-tune their ideas into a workable plan.

Pair up faculty who may seem like polar opposites. They may very well discover their new best work friend.

Challenge Them
Within the scope of their strengths, find new ways to spur your employees on to growth. Input and Context are complementary strengths. Therefore, I’ve grown into the role of the researcher: If the team needs a new process, often they’ll ask me to look into it first. Recently, I was asked to look into a very specific computer script. It’s a relatively new program for me, and I was challenged because I had to use my strengths to figure the whole thing out.

Do you have a faculty who has been teaching the same class for a very long time, and at the same time, would you like to offer a new course? They may be the perfect fit for the job.

Weaknesses are Okay
I’m not saying you never strive to improve or learn. Out of 34 possible strength themes, Competition is 33rd for me. Sure, I can become more competitive, but it will never replace my top themes. In short, you get a greater return on your time by helping someone grow in what they’re really good at compared making them suffer through trying to fix what they’ll never be.

de532cf4-9876-4d10-97a4-851025b92271Educators spend years preparing for a specialty, so my purpose with this blog isn’t to say to throw all of that out the window. They’re still the experts you’ve hired because of their specialty. Rather, challenge them to try new things through their strengths. Encourage cooperation, but most of all, recognize their unique attributes.

Are you wondering which strengths system is right for you? We’ve developed this free handy comparison chart. Download it here.

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Tags: inbound marketing, employee weaknesses, employees strengths


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