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Leadership Development Blog

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How To Use Employee Strengths To Be More Successful

Posted by Paul O'Keefe on Aug 16, 2016 1:30:00 PM

43958935_s.jpgWhether you're working with five employees or 5,000, it's important to approach employee strengths with the goal of making the most of them.

Take the time to analyze these strengths through the lens of what’s best for the company. Following are a list of employee strengths that make up the foundation of any organization’s success.

Which Employee Strengths Form the Core of a Successful Organization?

An examination of successful organizations shows that there are foundational competencies that the majority of employees must have in order for a company to be successful in the long-term. These "core competencies" are:

  • The ability to communicate effectively, influence others and negotiate beneficial outcomes
  • The ability to manage conflict and change in a positive manner
  • Possessing problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Being able to receive coaching, counseling and have their performance managed as well as have the potential to coach, counsel and manage the performance of others
  • Being able to set high, attainable goals while holding standards of excellence

Every employee needs to have these competencies, but it's especially important for your leaders. The more they have these skills and qualities, the more advantageous it'll be for your company. Let’s look at these competencies and examine how to use them to help your employees be more successful.

RELATED: How Successful Organization Maximize Employee Strengths

The ability to communicate effectively, influence others and negotiate well are imperative employee strengths

Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important employee qualities. Whether it's in writing skills or verbal acumen, your employees must be able to convey their thoughts well and understand what others are trying to communicate. Poor communication can ruin almost any business, in any number of ways.

One study notes that 28% of respondents blamed poor communication as the cause for missing a project deadline. Poor communication with customers, misunderstood instructions to subordinates and miscommunication with colleagues - these are all detrimental to the bottom line.

Tied into being able to communicate effectively is the “soft skill” of influencing and negotiating. If an employee can’t communicate effectively, they definitely can't influence others and negotiate for the best possible terms for all parties. You want employees who can influence others in a positive way.

It’s easy enough to have a negative influence; companies are full of these “Negative Nellies and Neds.” You need employees who are enthusiastic, pro-active and spur everyone else on. You want workers who can negotiate well and create outcomes that are win-win. All of this hinges upon the ability to communicate effectively. Some employees may have a natural talent, but most of your employees will need training to develop this set of skills.

Managing Conflict and Change is a Vital Employee Strength

How employees handle conflict and change is extremely important. These two variables are constants. If an industry or company isn’t experiencing conflict and change, it's a red flag. Research shows that 85% of employees deal with some degree of conflict. Of these employees, 33% experience conflict always or frequently. In fact, 2.8 hours per week is spent dealing with this conflict, which adds up to 355 million days per year. Clearly, conflict is a workplace constant and needs to be addressed in a positive manner. Change occurs just as frequently, if not more than conflict.

When change and conflict come, most individuals don't like it. They're thrown off-balance and struggle to regain control. They may hunker down, refuse to communicate, and may choose to deny it. Or they may lash out and cause damage.

Conflict and change are best used as vehicles for improvement. There's a way to handle conflict and change in a positive manner. You want employees who are comfortable in this way. Not employees who run at the first sign of trouble. The more capable your employees are of accepting and dealing with conflict and change, the better suited they'll be to handle leadership positions. 

Problem Solving and Decision Making are Critical Employee Strengths

Being able to solve problems and make decisions are must-haves, especially for your leadership. If an employee isn’t part of creating a useful solution and working to make it happen, then they're part of the problem. You want employees who have a knack for seeing through problems and solving them. 

You can help your employees develop their problem-solving and decision-making abilities. With intensive mentoring and coaching you can build up their skills in this area.

It’s best to start with little problems and decisions, coach your employees through them and let them see the outcome and consequences of their decisions. Applaud them if they make strong, successful decisions and solve the problem. Teach, explain and lead if they make poor decisions, fail to solve a problem or create one. Then next time, help them tackle another problem. Slowly, they'll work their way up to larger and larger problems until they can take complex problems and solve them without guidance.

Helping employees make decisions is also important. Train them to see all aspects of the decision quickly, weigh their options and then make a decision. Given time and focused coaching, you can develop your employees’ problem solving and decision-making skills to the point of being great strengths.

Two-Way Street: Coaching, Counseling and the Ability to Manage Performance are Necessary Employee Strengths

This set of skills is a two-way street: Employees must be able to receive coaching and counseling in a positive, proactive manner. They must be open to allowing their supervisor or mentor to manage their performance. Being enthusiastic and open to counseling and constructive feedback are employee strengths that will help your employees flourish. Are they easy to counsel? Are they open to having their performance critiqued and managed with an eye for growth? Such malleable character is a strength.

The flip-side of this characteristic is for those employees looking to grow into leadership: Do they have the potential to coach and counsel others? Do they have the potential to manage the performance of others in a positive, beneficial way? Being able to receive coaching and counseling and having the potential to grow in coaching and counseling others is a true employee strength.

Setting High, but Achievable Goals and Maintaining Standards of Excellence are Foundational Employee Strengths

Do your employees set short and long-term goals for themselves and for the company? Do your workers hold themselves to standards that are full of integrity and demand excellence? Everyone must have goals in order to succeed. Having high standards ensures that those goals are met with excellence. You can grow your employees to meet their high, yet achievable goals with excellence and develop them into people who will help lead your company to success.

Have you thought of employee strengths in terms of these "core competencies"? These skills, abilities and qualities are the foundation for exceptional employee performance and are at the root of any successful company. The sooner you're able to develop and harness the strengths of your employees, the sooner you'll see your business take off. 

To start leveraging your employees' strengths and developing your employees to lead your company, review the Edge 360 Employee Performance Assessment and the Act365 Leader Development System or contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.

You may also be interested in these employee development posts:

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