Strategies & Tactics

5 Tips for Building a Strengths-Based Workplace

April 1, 2019

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The AP Style proofreading expert who always finds the critical edits before content is delivered to the client. The co-worker who can rattle off the best lede in under a minute. The unflustered presenter who commands the room at all of the staff and client meetings. The resident headline expert, the content-generating machine and the earned media story powerhouse generator.

Every agency has a unique collection of team members who possess skills and talents, quickly positioning them as go-to resources. As colleagues frequently come to them for support, the experts feel rewarded — and, according to a Gallup analysis, they also perform better at their jobs. In fact, people who use their talents at work are six times more likely to be engaged on the job and are less likely to leave.

In a perfect world, employees’ strengths would be perfectly matched to their role on each team. But, in a fast-paced agency environment, teams are formed and reformed according to the needs of projects, clients and changing agency dynamics. The reality is that teams can often be made up of people who might not be the best suited for certain projects.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can identify and build teams in a demanding environment that allows employees to use their strengths, add value to the company — and feel rewarded.

It starts with adopting a strengths-based leadership approach that leverages and amplifies an individual’s strengths, as opposed to focusing on where they are falling short.

A strengths-based approach is a philosophy of leadership based on the belief that each person is born with unique strengths and talents. The notion is that when individuals can accomplish work in alignment with their talents, they are at their best, feel content and can better collaborate with co-workers.

To start the strengths-based approach, the first step is to have employees take an online CliftonStrengths assessment to determine their talents in the form of their top five strengths. Once identified, here are five ways that leaders can bring this type of culture to life in the workplace:

1. Understand that knowledge is power.

Providing employees with awareness of their strengths is highly valuable, as many people tend to focus on where they are falling short. This exercise not only identifies strengths, but it also provides an avenue for employees to explore what these strengths mean for them and their co-workers. Arming staff with this knowledge — typically in the first weeks of their employment — sets them up for immediate success.

2. Display strengths.

Demonstrate to the team that strengths are important by providing ways to use them. Color-code each team member’s strengths, print on an oversized board and hang it in a high-traffic gathering place in the office. This will allow everyone to visualize how they are similar and different from other team members. Create an easy-to-use guide for employees to reference, including a description of each employee’s strong suits along with how to best work with that person.

3. Provide reviews and feedback through strengths.

Conduct employee and peer reviews that discuss how strengths relate to an employee’s performance, providing strengths-specific opportunities for growth and helping each employee establish goals based on their talents. For employees, it’s a full-circle moment where they see leadership’s commitment to the strengths-based approach.

4. Improve teamwork.

As teams are formed, awareness of strengths helps team members understand what’s important to their peers and how they approach projects. On a roles and responsibilities chart, it can be helpful to list a team member’s strengths under each role to encourage individual differences and contributions. This awareness also allows for difficult discussions with peers and can make it easier for them to work together.

5. Use strengths as a recruitment tool.

Consider having candidates take the assessment during the recruitment process as another piece of data to determine if they’d be a good fit for the job and the company culture.

It’s leadership’s responsibility to ensure that their employees feel inspired and valued at work. Knowing everyone’s strengths can help them be placed in roles that make them feel energized and engaged. Using a strengths-based approach can also contribute to a better culture and higher employee engagement. What’s stopping you from adopting this approach?

Bridget Castellini

Bridget Castellini is the managing partner of Wordsworth Communications and has over two decades of strategic communications experience. She is proud to cultivate a culture that attracts the best and brightest talent. Connect with her on LinkedIn: Bridget-Castellini.
 

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