Strong Managers Coach Employee Strengths

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Any baseball coach will tell you- you can’t put a left-hander on second base—it’s impossible to turn the double play.  Your shortest player doesn’t live under the rim and your fastest runner is not on the line of scrimmage.  In sports, you coach according to a player’s strengths.  Through countless hours of practice and interaction with players, a good coach knows exactly what each player does well.

In Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, about two-thirds of US employees polled stated that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work.  They feel psychologically disconnected from their workplace.  A major cause of this disconnection is an employer’s lack of understanding and development of individual employee strengths.  The resulting loneliness costs businesses in productivity and profitability (Brim and Williams, 2020).

Like a good coach, managers should work to identify and support employees’ natural strengths.

Finding employee strengths

A strength is something that motivates an employee to give their best energy versus doing something that drains energy.  The best way to figure out your employees’ strengths is to ask.  Asking is better than observing because an employee may not be using some strengths in her current role.  For example, perhaps an IT analyst is also a great public speaker.  Or a marketing representative is a natural leader.  Take the time to have these conversations so strengths can be identified and nurtured.  Lauren Levine of Sparkhire states: “Many managers make the mistake of throwing employees into a role without stopping to consider how they could most effectively benefit the organization. When you’re hiring, it shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” process. It’s important to take time to analyze the individual you’re bringing on board. Fully learn about their strengths and interests in order to utilize them most effectively.”

Spend time with each employee individually. Formal settings like monthly performance reviews are beneficial but also consider going to lunch or doing something more informal to get to know an employee in a new way.

Observe employees for their strengths.  This means that a manager intentionally looks for strengths. It is a novel idea to some managers who specifically try to find behaviors to refine.  Observe employees in different settings like in office competition or when they meet someone new.  Gallup offers a program called CliftonStrengths34 to further identify strengths.  As you observe, think like a coach who wants to find strengths for the good of the team.

Utilizing employee strengths

Managers should look for innovative ways to utilize the strengths they see.  First, this means telling employees that they recognize strengths in certain areas.  This can be highly motivating by itself.  Utilizing strengths might also mean customizing a job to an employee rather than vice-versa.  Marnie Kunz of Chron states: “Revise job descriptions, switch employees’ positions, add or change responsibilities, and do what you need to in order to place employees in positions where they can succeed and use their skills. Focus on the positives and how you can build on each employee’s unique strengths. If an employee is good with people, for instance, devise ways the employee can become more involved with people in your business, like working in customer service to answer calls or replay to emails.”

Consider training opportunities to further develop natural strengths.  Pair an employee with a mentor who has similar strengths.

Cost of not identifying strengths

Employees who are psychologically disengaged are less productive and are more apt to seek new employment.  “From an employer standpoint; employee turnover, or churn, is really expensive to an organization. For example, economic turnover costs have been estimated as high as 213% of a year’s salary for a highly skilled job” (Boushey & Glynn, 2012).

Praise doesn’t cost anything to give and takes very little time, yet so many managers fail to do this on a regular basis.  Or, the praise given is so generic, it doesn’t really matter to employees. How to give praise that matters. 

Managers should actively look for strengths and coach individual strengths, so teams successfully come together.  As recruiters, Artemis Consultants wants to find employees who best complement each company team. Our consultants know the importance of matching job opportunities to candidates with natural strengths in desired areas.  Contact us to coach you in your hiring needs.

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