Are You Optimizing Your Employees’ Strengths?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Like many employers, you probably have a vast pool of talent that walks through the doors of your
business every day. Are you making the most of that talent, or have you been busy trying to fit round pegs into square holes? Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund, from Gallup Poll, are touting research about the importance of developing employees’ natural talent. Here’s how to make the biggest impact on your bottom line.

During the course of many decades Gallup Poll has researched employee engagement, which currently is at an all-​time low. Using a formal measurement system, Gallup's researchers have proven that team members who use their innate talents the most in their work also feel more engaged. It should not be surprising that this kind of engagement ultimately results in higher sales and profitability.

Managers are usually focused on their day-​to-​day operations. They fail to step back and realize that the team member who’s supposed to be creating Excel worksheets is always the one who rushes to handle customer service problems. If managers do recognize employee strengths on a case-​by-​case basis, they're often lacking a system that will help identify overall talent and incorporate that talent into work assignments.

Rigoni and Asplund point out that some departments may already be informally using their own process, often during performance appraisals, to determine the strengths of their team members. Real change in most organizations won’t come unless the leadership elects to formalize this type of process across the board. Rigoni and Asplund refer to Gallup’s research which reveals that when a ‘strengths intervention’ or commitment from senior leadership takes place, sales can increase between 10% and 19%.

Companies who recognize the importance of matching individual strengths to specific tasks can also use their recruiting processes to their advantage. For example, organizations should go beyond allowing hiring managers to ask their own questions during an interview. Candidates should also be asked to take assessments which measure their natural aptitude and skills. When companies consciously try to hire employees with the proper skills for the job, their turnover rates fall by double-digits.

If you haven’t implemented a system to match the strengths of your team members to the critical tasks in your organization, it’s time to rethink your process. Your competitors could already be on the path to improved operational efficiency. You can stay ahead of the game by implementing some of Rigoni’s and Asplund’s recommendations.