Building a winning team takes more than hiring people with specific skills. As a manager, you must also identify and nurture employee strengths through continuous feedback, ongoing training, and other practices.
A company is only as good as its employees. The people on your team can lift you or bring you down, and each brings unique strengths and experiences. Your responsibility as a leader is to help them tap into their potential and excel at what they do well.
This approach can lead to better communication, increased productivity, and higher revenue. In addition, employees want to grow in their roles and put in their best work if provided a chance to learn and develop skills. The result is a thriving workplace culture, low turnover, and improved performance.
What do we mean by employee strengths?
Many employers seek people with specific skills or expertise but overlook other factors like personality traits, cultural fit, and work ethic. An employee’s personality is more important than his skills and credentials. Would you hire someone who does a great job but has a negative attitude and talks down on others? I would guess not.
A better approach is to focus on employee strengths or the traits and abilities that allow people to excel at work. You’ll want to ensure their personality, behaviour, and professional skills align with your expectations and fit the company’s culture.
People are more than just their titles, skills, or qualifications. They also have unique abilities and other strengths that set them apart. A good manager will empower employees to cultivate those strengths to reach their full potential.
This unique set of skills, abilities, and personality traits can impact job satisfaction and work performance, among other aspects. If your staff members can use their strengths, they’ll be more loyal and engaged. Their hard work and commitment can drive business growth, innovation, and operational excellence.
Key employee strengths managers should focus on
Employee strengths vary from one industry to another and from one role to the next. However, certain behaviours and personality traits are desirable in any industry or workplace.
For example, dealing with accounts payable (AP) can challenge small businesses. In this case, it makes sense to hire an accountant who masters the art of AP management, but you’ll want to make sure he’s a good fit for your team. Therefore, you may seek someone with a strong work ethic, team spirit, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.
Some strengths, such as self-motivation and self-discipline, are essential for remote employees. Others are industry-specific and can make all the difference for financial, real estate, or healthcare companies.
Real estate agents, for instance, should have strong negotiation and communication skills, charisma, determination, and a good understanding of human psychology. On the other hand, a nurse should be kind, caring, compassionate, and mentally resilient.
Let’s examine some of the most important employee strengths and why they matter.
Negativity is contagious, and sometimes it takes just one employee with a bad attitude to drag down the whole team. So no matter your industry, you must surround yourself with positive people who support each other and work toward a common goal.
Employees with a positive attitude are upbeat, motivated, and engaged. They care about their work and go the extra mile to get things done, which can inspire their peers to do the same.
A negative outlook, on the other hand, can lead to conflict and diminished productivity. Negative employees often complain about the little things, exaggerate problems, and create tension in the workplace. They’re also more likely to undermine the authority of their leaders and criticise their decisions.
Strong work ethic
A strong work ethic is often the key to higher productivity and performance. This quality goes hand-in-hand with respectfulness, discipline, passion, grit, and other employee strengths.
Individuals with a good work ethic are reliable and committed to excellence. They take their jobs seriously, put in their best effort, and keep themselves accountable.
For example, an employee who’s always on time and works diligently throughout the day can be a valuable asset for any business. Moreover, his actions motivate others and set the tone for the entire team.
Every business faces challenges, ranging from computer bugs and unpaid invoices to major problems. As a manager, you expect your people to address these issues before they escalate. Plus, you may be unable to intervene in some situations, and they must take the matter into their own hands. Given these aspects, you’ll want to build a culture of problem-solvers and empower your team to make decisions.
Start by teaching them how to frame issues, then get out of their way to give them autonomy. Encourage them to experiment and let them fail so they can learn from their mistakes. Most importantly, create a safe space for employees to share ideas, speak up, and express their concerns.
Let’s say you realise your company’s email sender reputation is damaged. As a result, your business emails are not getting delivered, leading to wasted time and effort.
One option is to hire a marketing expert to tackle this issue, but you could also let your team look into it. At the very least, ask them to identify the cause and develop solutions, such as double opt-in confirmation and removing outdated contacts. Your employees will get to practice their problem-solving skills and learn from this experience, even if their ideas fall flat.
Attention to detail
Remember the old saying, “The devil is in the details?” This idiom applies to the workplace, too.
An employee who catches a typo or error in a critical document, such as a financial report or legal contract, could save your business. These mistakes often result in lost customers, hefty fines, or lawsuits.
Attention to detail is one of the most important employee strengths, no matter your industry or business size. This professional skill ensures all work meets a high standard—without errors or inconsistencies.
Over time, it can boost efficiency, reduce unnecessary stress, and improve brand reputation.
Similarly, you want your employees to take responsibility for their actions and own their mistakes. It’s a crucial aspect of building a productive workplace culture and can lead to higher team morale, greater job satisfaction, and increased trust.
Accountability in the workplace helps set clear expectations, ensuring everyone is on the same page. As a result, it can prevent conflicts, boost productivity, and diminish stress. Moreover, it creates a culture of open communication where people acknowledge their mistakes and support each other.
An employee who takes responsibility for a mistake is likely to avoid repeating it. Chances are he’ll try to address the root cause of the problem and prevent it from happening again. However, if that employee blames others for his failure, he will repeat the same mistakes. Plus, his approach could lead to workplace conflicts, revenue loss, and compliance issues.
Social media, smartphones, gossip, and other workplace productivity killers cost companies millions. Poor time management also increases employee stress, affects productivity, and fuels burnout. In the long run, it can result in missed opportunities and wasted resources.
Sometimes, these problems are partly due to employees and partly due to their leaders. For example, managers often use time-tracking software to measure developer productivity. These tools can boost accountability and motivation but are unreliable for measuring work performance.
Tech professionals hate the idea of having to log their hours. This practice makes them feel like they’re being micromanaged. It kills their morale, resulting in diminished productivity—and that’s just one example of how not to do time tracking for software developers.
Training your employees to prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance is better. Agree on a deadline, give them autonomy, and trust they’ll do the job.
The whole point is to work smarter, not longer.
Technology is constantly changing and evolving—and so does the business environment. Think about the shift to remote work, the emphasis on automation, the rise of multi-functional workplaces, and other trends. Like it or not, you must adapt to these changes to stay relevant.
Likewise, ensuring your staff can quickly adjust to new situations is important. Those who do it will be better prepared to face whatever challenges may arise and secure their future. In addition, adaptable employees are often more resilient and eager to learn, which allows them to thrive during times of change or uncertainty.
For example, there may come a time when you need to cut costs. One solution is to embrace remote work, so you no longer have to pay rent. In this case, you’ll want to ensure your employees can get the job done and communicate with each other, regardless of location.
Adaptability in the workplace can streamline collaboration, communication, and innovation. Plus, it demonstrates an open-minded outlook and can lead to new opportunities in business and beyond. Over time, it may improve your company’s bottom line and give you a competitive edge.
Employees should have all the right skills but also need emotional intelligence (EI). EI helps to identify, understand and manage emotions as well as the emotions of those around them. As a result, it can improve resilience, self-awareness, communication, motivation, and relationship building.
Workers with high EI are better able to solve conflicts and keep calm under pressure. They can express themselves clearly, empathise with their peers, and understand other people’s perspectives. Moreover, their mental resilience allows them to bounce back quickly from setbacks and maintain a positive outlook in difficult situations.
Some people have inherent emotional intelligence, but you can develop this trait over time.
Team leaders can foster it in the workplace through simple practices, such as:
- Encourage self-reflection
- Actively listening to employees
- Create a positive work environment
- Build a culture of open communication
- Emphasise teamwork and collaboration
- Provide opportunities for personal growth
- Offer constructive feedback
For example, role-playing scenarios can help employees put themselves in other people’s shoes and gain a fresh perspective. Many companies also offer one-on-one coaching sessions, training programs, and workshops to foster emotional intelligence.
Don’t forget to acknowledge and reward workers who demonstrate high levels of EI. The benefits of employee recognition go beyond increased morale, and you can leverage this strategy to promote teamwork and openness.
Let’s say one of your employees has consistently shown empathy toward his peers or helped them with whatever they needed. As a manager, you can (and should) recognise his contributions publicly, such as during a team meeting or company-wide event. Your actions will boost his motivation and inspire others to follow his lead.
Speaking of motivation, you should drive staff members to do their best work without being pushed from behind. They should set clear goals and seek ways to do things better and smarter.
Employee self-motivation can go a long way toward professional growth. In addition, this trait fuels productivity and innovation, positively impacting companies and workers.
Self-motivated employees are likely to meet or exceed their goals and go beyond their job duties to get things done. In addition, these individuals are often more creative and adaptable than their peers, and they’ll think outside the box to solve whatever problems come their way.
Lastly, encourage your team to think creatively and bring new ideas. Creativity is an essential strength in the modern workplace, catalysing innovation. Think of big companies like Apple, IKEA, Amazon, Starbucks, and PepsiCo, which put creativity at the heart of everything they do.
For example, Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino and other limited-edition beverages that got incredibly popular due to their novelty. Plus, some of its stores look like local landmarks or cultural icons, making a lasting impression on customers.
Creativity has its place in tech, too. Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech giants constantly reinvent themselves and seek new ways to expand their reach. This approach allows them to remain competitive and delight customers, keeping them coming back for more.
Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, and each brings unique ideas and perspectives. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to nurture their strengths and help them reach their full potential. You’re not just a leader but also a mentor, and your team members expect you to guide them toward a fulfilling career.
Some of your employees may know their strengths but still need your help to improve themselves. Others may not know where their strengths lie, and you’ll have to uncover their superpowers. With this approach, you’ll build a winning team you can count on to deliver its best work and drive the business forward.
About the Author
Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant and copywriter with over 14 years of experience. Over the past decade, she has turned her passion for marketing and writing into a successful business with a global audience.