Building an all-star team
Of the millions of employees Gallup surveys, one statement has been found to have the greatest link to engagement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” People who answer that question “strongly agree” are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.
How many of your team members can answer “strongly agree” to that statement? Too often, LTC leaders are focused on correcting team members, delivering disciplinary action and addressing failures. When the focus is constantly on what a person needs to do better and not on what they can do well they miss out on opportunities to use their strengths.
Everyone has different innate and acquired talents. (If you can’t recognize one redeeming quality in a team member, you should ask yourself why they are even working in you organization!) To improve engagement, team members need to be supported in harnessing these strengths. This begins with the challenge of the employee and supervisor both knowing what those strengths are in the first place. Only then can they work together to strengthen and refine them to improve employee and organizational outcomes.
Scouting for raw talent
It can be difficult to identify our own strengths, sometimes because we fail to recognize our skills are strengths. At times we take our own talents for granted without realizing the rare gift we possess. Once, based on employee feedback from an organizational assessment, I encouraged the administrator to walk around the nursing home more frequently and interact with the team. He agreed he should be doing more of this. Then he asked me, “What should I say to people when I see them?” Connecting and interacting with other people is as effortless as breathing is to me! I was momentarily taken aback that this didn’t come naturally to him. That’s the power, and downfall, of a strength. We assume what is second nature to us is the same for others, and we often don’t recognize it for what it is: a unique gift.
The following techniques will help you uncover each of your team member’s greatest talents and position them in the best role to do what they do best every day. That’s a win for employees, residents and your bottom-line.
- Use probing questions in conversations with team members:
- What parts of your job do you feel you perform best?
- What parts of your work do you enjoy the most? Least?
- What do you think you do reallywell?
- What do people, at home or at work, tell you that you are good at?
- What do you or others consider your natural gifts or talents?
- How could we make the most of your strengths?
- Utilize an assessment tool to help objectively identify your strengths and those of your team members. There are a variety of free and paid assessments available online. One of the most popular is the Clifton StrengthFinders Assessment.
- Determine the best way to use a strength assessment upon hiring. You can use this information to choose the best candidate for a team and then share it with the group. Plus, what a way to show new employees they are not just a set of hands, but that they really matter!
- Share each employee’s strengths with the team once they have been identified. Discuss how tasks can be distributed to capitalize on the strongest abilities of each employee. Of course, the work no one likes still has to get done, but you will be amazed to see the tasks some people enjoy are torture for others.
- Host regularly scheduled coaching conversations with each employee. Instead of the dreaded annual review, one of our clients, Whitney Center in Hamden, Connecticut, transitioned to quarterly coaching conversations that have been extremely well received. That led to an open dialogue about what goes well, what could be better and how employees can grow.
The Industrial Age approach to employees following strict processes and everyone doing the same work the same way is long over. Unfortunately, some of the outdated leadership and supervisory styles still exist, including a focus on “fixing” people. Want to attract and keep the right people on your team? Try focusing on their strengths instead.
This article was written by Drive President, Denise Boudreau-Scott.