(From Gallup Business Journal) -- If you want to build a strengths-based organization -- and enjoy the benefits of reduced turnover and greater productivity and profitability -- you can't go halfway. If you really want everyone in your company talking about their talents, sharing them, and living and breathing the language of strengths, you've got to be all in, or it just won't work.
This means that you must significantly shift your company's language; you must change how managers interact with their employees and how employees interact with their peers. What's more, these changes must go deep into your company's DNA.
But not enough companies understand this. Gallup asked more than 105,000 employees from 14 different companies to rate their agreement with the statement "My organization is committed to building the strengths of each associate" using a 5-point scale where 1 is "strongly disagree" and 5 is "strongly agree." The employees gave this item a mean rating of 3.87, meaning that not enough employees believe that their company is committed to building their strengths.
For those companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to building their employees' strengths, here are three steps executives and managers can take.
Help coworkers know and understand each other's strengths
Employees spend much of their time interacting with colleagues through email, phone calls, meetings, and teamwork. These interactions can be more effective if employees understand their coworkers' talents and motivations and if they share a common language, such as the talent themes described by the Clifton StrengthsFinder, to discuss them openly and honestly. Relationships become stronger when employees fundamentally understand each other -- when they trust their coworkers and feel comfortable voicing their thoughts and opinions.
Imagine a team that has learned to work together based on how the team members' talents complement one another. One team member with Activator and Strategic among her top five talent themes would be able to kick-start a project plan and operationalize the ideas of two other team members whose top five talents include Ideation and Learner. Another team member who has Communication in his top five takes on writing the final report and presenting it to the team's manager. Think about how effectively that group would collaborate.
This strengths-based approach is both simple and effective, yet too few companies have implemented it. Gallup asked more than 8,900 employees in three organizations to rate their agreement with the statement "I can name the strengths of five people I work with" on the same 5-point scale. The employees gave this item a mean rating of 3.78, which means that too many employees do not know their coworkers' strengths.
There are many ways to facilitate a shared knowledge of coworker strengths. Talent themes could be posted publicly or shared someplace where other employees could search for their coworkers' top themes. Team meetings could start with introductions that include listing each team member's top talents. Employees should be encouraged to share their themes and have conversations with their coworkers about how they can use their talents to work together more effectively.