Developing a high performing team certainly does require clear cut vision and values. In fact, I discussed this very thing in last week’s blog. Next, you need to inspire those on the team to do their very best. You start, of course, by getting the right people in the right jobs. This includes not just testing skills and knowledge but also examining attitudes and behaviors. You now have the right people. Now what?
Help your team use their strengths to push their performance to new levels. Unfortunately, many of us spend time trying to correct weaknesses. I have told this story before but it is a great illustration of what happens:
How many of you are parents? When your child comes home from school with his or her report card and it shows, for example, an A in math, B’s in history and science, and a C in English, What is your response? That’s right. Most people will talk to their child about raising the grade in English. But what if your child might have a real talent in math? He or she might become a great math genius. But it might never be realized because time was spent dwelling on weakness rather than leveraging strengths.
Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents and others from the time we were growing up, we end up living lives that have been influenced by them. This results in working on our weaknesses while neglecting our strengths and our dreams.
According to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, authors of “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, this results in loss of profits and as waste of human potential. They cite the Gallop organization in their twelve question employee engagement survey. Gallop has spent over a decade surveying people worldwide on the topic of employee engagement. Employee engagement is defined as how positive and productive people are at work. Only one third of all surveyed employees responded positively to the statement “At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”
The costs of this mistake are staggering. First of all, if members of your team are not engaged because they are not utilizing their skills they may check out mentally or leave your organization all together. The best approach for you to take is to learn your employees’ strengths. There are a number of ways to do this including getting to know your employees and observing them at work. For example, if you observe an employee that is always early, never misses deadline, does a complete and thorough job, but does not enjoy working in abstract or making projections don’t place him in a job that requires project management and planning. He excels at execution and deliverables. He will thrive at that and enjoy it. I know of a chemist who had many patents created for his company. The company promoted him to head off the pilot (test) plant. He hated it because he could not use his creative strengths.
Find the strengths of everyone on your team; leverage those strengths by giving them assignments that put those strengths to use. You will have happier engaged employees and a high performing team.