Focusing on our own strengths is what, in fact, makes us strong.
A recent story in the Gallup Business Journal revealed that only twenty percent of U.S. Workers think that their jobs use their strengths. It said, “Identifying strengths and fulfilling natural potential has never been more important for students and employees. In the United States alone, just 13% of workers say they find their work meaningful, and a mere 20% think they’re in jobs that use their talents”.
The fact that so many companies are failing to tap into the strengths of their employees is troubling. How can these companies expect to compete when the best that their employees have to offer is going unutilized? Is it any wonder then that only 13% of workers say that their work is not meaningful?
Bridging the gap between unsatisfied employees and those who actually do play to their strengths is a leadership challenge that must be tackled. Here are a few things that we, as leaders, need to do:
Know strengths before you hire
Knowing a potential employee’s strengths before hiring is just common sense. Why would you even consider someone for a position if that person does not possess the skill sets needed or without knowing whether or not that person would be playing to their strengths? Why set someone up to be unfulfilled, miserable, and ultimately fail? When hiring, don’t drop the ball; find out what strengths the candidate possesses and place them accordingly.
Reevaluate strengths on a regular basis
Our hope is that our employees are continually growing and improving. It is important that you reevaluate employees’ strengths on a regular basis. Are they ready for more responsibility? Would they benefit from gaining experience in a new area? Is the position where they serve still a good fit? Make sure your knowledge on where employees’ strength lie is always up-to-date. Make ongoing training a part of their empowering process.
Don’t allow the position to define the person, let the person define the position
A cookie-cutter approach to filling positions within your organization typically centers around the “duties” of the job. While that is important to understand, the position must not define the person. In the final analysis, you are hiring a person, not a position. A person will only be fulfilled when he or she plays to their strengths. This is what matters most. Hire qualified employees, put them in positions where they can best utilize their strengths, and then get out of the way and allow them to make the position their own.
People will thrive when they play to their strengths
People find their work meaningful when they are playing to their strengths. When they feel they are contributing in meaningful ways they will produce at higher levels and everyone wins.The right people in wrong positions will only lead to low morale and poor performance. Make sure you know where your employees’ strengths lie and then give them the opportunity to utilize those strengths in defining their position and contribution to the organization.
The fact that only 20% of employees are in jobs where they believe that their talents are being used is a sign of deficient leadership. This trend can be reversed but it has to start with a fresh approach to your leadership and recognition and respect for what employee strengths can contribute to the organization.
Employee engagement can be a challenge on good days. Don’t complicate things from an organizational standpoint by not allowing people to play to their strengths. Unleash their potential to be their best.
Editor’s Note: This Article was co-authored with Liz Stincelli