Whilst there are many great tools for engaging people and driving performance, such as recruiting for certain talents, setting clear expectations, praising when it is due, and defining the team mission, the most effective tool on your belt is to get each person to play to their strengths. Employ this and an engaged and productive team will result. Fail to do this and no matter what else you do to motivate your team, it will never truly engage. They will never become a high-performance team.
Over the years of working with small and large companies alike, I have witnessed many people who seem to be a perfect fit for the role they have. A friendly, well dressed receptionist, a conscientious shop assistant, a detailed accountant, a mechanic with a love for cars. Round pegs in round holes, playing to their strengths. Equally though, I have seen countless people who just seem to have lost their true calling and don’t seem to fit where they have landed and would be better suited doing something else on the team. A classic example of this is a salesperson who loves to be with people, and is a great relationship builder, being promoted to a “sales management” role in the back office because of longevity. The insuring loss of enthusiasm and productivity should not come as a shock to us, but it invariably does. This person has stopped performing because they are no longer playing to their strengths. Why not reward their performance by paying them more to do what they do best?
Whilst knowing our weaknesses is equally important, focusing on them and how we are going to turn them around into strengths isn’t. Recently I read a great book by Marcus Buckingham which outlines six steps to achieving outstanding performance. It was all based on this principle of using your strengths so I thought I would share them with you.
Step 1: Bust the Myths
Change your mindset from improving weaknesses to building on strengths.
Step 2: Get Clear
Identify your own strengths and weaknesses.
Step 3: Free your Strengths
Identify exactly how and where each strength helps you in your current role and search for missed opportunities to use them. Learn new skills and techniques that will sharpen and build these strengths and build your role around them.
Step 4: Stop your Weaknesses
Avoid situations that employ your weaknesses and team up with someone who has them as a strength. Find a strength in you that can add productivity to your role and use your strengths to build on the area of weakness.
Step 5: Speak Up
Open conversation within teams, without fear of retribution or ridicule, when planning and giving out roles and responsibilities. The salesperson who became a manager would have benefited everyone if he had communicated his desire to keep working on his strengths. His role could have been structured around selling and training others to sell.
Step 6: Build Strong Habits
Stay clear headed and focused on the long term employment of your strengths, week in – week out, year in – year out, pushing towards activities that strengthen you, ever watchful for those that drag you down.
So, whether you are a sole trader or the CEO of a major corporation; build your team based on the use of strengths and the weaknesses will take care of themselves.
Have an outstanding week. You deserve it!
The People Builder