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How to identify your people's strengths

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

What are your strengths? No doubt you have some idea of how to answer that question. But what about your people's strengths? What are they good at? What do they love doing?

I saw a tweet from Marcus Buckingham, 'There's one great way to know how your employees need to be treated: ask. About goals, about how to praise, about how they learn.' Marcus Buckingham is also well known for his work regarding strengths. So, I would add to that list, 'About their strengths.'

Often it's not as simple as asking though, is it? Here's a practical list of steps for you to go through with your people to identify their strengths and to work with them to grow and develop in these areas.

1. Book a meeting... and listen.

You already have meetings with them about everything else. Why not book a meeting and just tell them you want to spend some time checking in with them and hearing how they're going? Ask them, 'How are you doing?' And then stop and pause. And in the same conversation, ask, 'By the way, I'm committed to investing in you. To help me to do that better, I'd love to know what you see as your strengths. What do you love doing? What do you feel like you're really good at?' Then stop and listen.

2. Whiteboard it with them in the context of their role.

It's important to have realistic expectations out of the first meeting. Their responsibilities probably aren't going to change overnight. But you can have a follow up meeting with a whiteboard where you review both their strengths and their role. It might open up new conversations about how they can improve in some areas, push more into other areas and even let go and/or hand over some responsibilities to other people.

3. Invest in strengths assessments.

Your people are your greatest assets. Once you've had the conversation and listened, you've earned yourself some trust. And so it makes sense to have a follow up conversation and ask them to take a strengths assessment.

4. Invest in a strengths facilitator.

If you have the means, take it a step further. Get your whole team to do the strengths assessment and then bring in an external consultant to work with your team on your individual strengths and how you can better work together. This is just one idea to use to build your team by the way. For more ideas, check out Patrick Lencioni.

There you have it. If you know you need to do more with your people to help them identify and move into their areas of strengths, then get started and book a meeting with one of them today.

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