• nat tanner

Increase employee engagement by focusing on Strengths.

Employees are increasingly looking for ways to feel connected and engaged by their leaders and in the core values of the companies that they work within. Employee disengagement according to Gallup is as high as 17% of the workforce and an actively disengaged employee costs their organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34 percent.

“Gallup's data show that simply learning their strengths makes employees 7.8% more productive, and teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity.”

I’ve been a big fan of Clifton’s Strengths Finder for as long as I have been building great agile teams. As a leader it’s a great way to focus a team’s energy collectively. It’s really easy to get started – check out Strengthsfinder test here to find out your 34 key theme’s and your top 5 strengths.

The test validates themes that align to 4 core areas: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. It helps to focus leaders on the positive impacts each team member has and how you can then create teams with complimentary strengths to bring together. The results also create a lot of surprises for people – I’ve seen people who were convinced they were great Influencers only to see that they don’t even feature in that category in their top 10 but are better Relationship Builders. But as you then look at your people you can start to see logical matching. Previously I have used this to create a small card print out for each persons desk (and electronically shared) so that each persons top 5 strengths are readily available – so if one person is looking for say better analytical skills they can find those team members who have themes like Analytical, Input and Context (part of strategic thinking) to pair with AND effectively learn new skills from.

As you are in your agile transformation, you and other leaders can also benefit from improved communication – you can see how you compare and contrast to other peers with who you need to collaborate and communicate with. This helps you to then shape your style to communicate your messages more effectively or work with other peers who have strengths that compliment where you don’t. It creates for effective engagement.

Your team members will also thank you for it – you will be able to encourage their development by showing clear interest in their strong areas. You can then begin to empower your people to make decisions without you as you focus on their levels of confidence and risk taking based on their strength themes. It also really helps when teams are not forming as well as you anticipated – running it as a team exercise can reveal everyone’s comfort and stretch zones to other team members building a real sense of trust that is needed as teams move beyond storming into norming. Then you can hone in on the key areas for training/coaching/mentoring as appropriate for each team or area.

I’ve also used this with potential hiring candidates to ascertain where they might fit well and to then dig into pertinent questions to validate how they feel about working in your culture.

I found personally that pairing this with your broader Leadership 360 review process really helps to create an open and honest culture which minimizes negativity. It helps you as a leader engage in meaningful employee dialogue on an ongoing basis and will bolster your employee’s confidence to be left to do their best agile work. Sharing your core strengths helps them to see modeled behavior and helps them to see how you collaborate to achieve the best outcomes for them and the business. This will leave you to focus on those other key areas of your transformation and will give you good insight into creating high performing teams.

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