Could your manager name your top five strengths – you know those things you’re good at and actually enjoy doing at work? And if yes, have they sat down with you recently and had a conversation about how you can build on your strengths as you go about your job?
If you’re shaking your head, you’re not alone.
The 2015 Strengths At Work Survey shows that when it comes to our managers, only 34% can name the strengths of their employees and only 32% have had a meaningful discussion about their employees’ strengths in the last three months.
But the managers who do are outperforming their peers.
Gallup research has previously found that the highest performing managers (based on composite performance) are more likely to spend time with high producers, match talents to tasks, and emphasize individual strengths in making personnel decisions. As a result, these strengths-focused managers nearly double their likelihood of success, and are 86% more likely to achieve above average performance levels than their non-strength focused colleagues.
This newest data sheds light on just how these managers are delivering superior results. They have more engaged, more energized and higher performing employees. The reason is simple – when we are using our strengths, we enjoy what we do much more than when we aren’t using them. And when we enjoy what we do, we do it better! Michelle McQuaid, who co-authored this latest survey says, “It’s clear that focusing on people’s strengths is good for the employee, good for the manager and good for the organization .” You can watch a segment of my interview with Michelle about leveraging our strengths on RawCourage.TV below.
The survey results are illuminating both for us as individuals, managers and leaders trying to harness the full potential of those in our organization. For example:
- 71% of employees who believe their managers can name their strengths report feeling engaged and energized by their work.
- 78% of employees who report having a meaningful discussion with their manager about their strengths feel that their work is making a difference and is appreciated.
- 65% of these employees describe themselves as flourishing (as opposed to functioning or languishing) and able to make things happen.
So, what can managers do to make the most of their employees’ strengths? Here are three simple steps to get started.
- Discover your employees’ strengths – Start to pay attention to the moments your people are clearly engaged, energized and enjoying what they’re doing. What talents can you see them using? How are they acting upon the values they hold? What interests are they demonstrating? If you’re struggling, ask them to complete the free 10 minute strengths assessment at www.viacharacter.org and together explore how they’re putting these strengths to work.
- Offer guidance on their development – Ask them how they’d like to be drawing on these strengths more as they go about their job. If they had the opportunity to do what they do best each day – at least for part of it – what would they be doing more of? How can this be aligned to the goals your team and organization are trying to achieve? What development support – on-the-job experiences, coaching or training – might they need to develop these strengths further?
- Give strengths-based feedback – Start looking for the different ways your employees are using their strengths. Let them know when you value and appreciate the way they’ve applied a particular strength to get a good result. Help them to understand when they’re overplaying a strength and how to dial it back in these moments. Encourage them to stop underplaying specific strengths when you see them hesitating or holding themselves back.
Adopting a strengths-focus is a small shift that delivers big rewards for managers. Best of all it doesn’t require an organizational stamp of approval or any budget to execute. Managers need only to be willing to start looking for what their employees are doing best, and talking with their employees about ways to build up on their strengths.
This article was written by Margie Warrell from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.