Our workplaces are made up of individuals (sometimes thousands of them) who must work together for a common goal—getting stuff done.
Many companies focus solely on “the work,” putting their people on the back burner. It’s a risky endeavor because your employees aren’t just cogs in the wheel. They play two critical roles in the workplace:
• A functional role - their technical skills and work experience
• A psychological role - their beliefs and values, as well as how they play with others
How employees communicate, share data, and collaborate will ultimately determine the success or failure of their team. People-centric organizations realize:
• Improved manager-employee relationships
• Enhanced team dynamics
• Increased productivity and engagement
A diverse cast of characters in the workplace is an asset, but managers need a little help in navigating how to engage them all. Here are three ways managers can help identify and understand the awesomeness within each individual player:
1. Behavioral assessments - whether you use the Predictive Index, DiSC, Myers-Briggs, or another formal assessment, make sure every member of the team takes the same one. Most of these tools provide a way to look at your entire team and talk about the behavioral styles across the team. Making this information easily accessible is the key to it being useful. Ideally, employees share their own traits through an Employee Profile.
2. Career Drivers cards - in career development, motivators matter much more than roles. We recently developed a card-sorting exercise designed to help employees identify their top career motivators. This structured conversation is pretty magical in helping managers develop empathy for an employee and understanding how to help them feel more fulfilled at work. Request a free set of Career Drivers cards here and get to know what matters to your team.
3. Strength assessments - uncovering employee strengths and how they work together is essential for high-performing teams. Managers who focus on employee strengths over weaknesses send engagement into overdrive, and employees who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged.
Once managers have a better understanding of each employee, what can they do?
• Consider their own strengths, drivers, and personality traits. Self-awareness can help managers fully utilize strengths and motivators in the service of the team.
• Beef up on emotional intelligence (EQ), learning how to pick up nonverbal cues and read between the lines when necessary.
• Take training to better understand the assessments the company uses. The available results may be quite extensive, as there are 34 types in CliftonStrengths alone! Use this knowledge to be more thoughtful in coaching each employee. Adapting to an employee’s style can help managers reach each employee effectively.
• Ask individual employees how they like to give and receive feedback as well as whether they prefer private praise or public recognition. Then accommodate their preferences whenever possible.
• Leverage every type of employee-manager conversation—foundation, connection, progress, and development—as an opportunity to discover and build upon what they know about each direct report.
• Foster development by aligning responsibilities with each employee’s unique personality, drivers, and strengths.
• Make friction more productive and promote mutual understanding by helping employees see how their traits complement those of their coworkers’.
• Establish a baseline of acceptable employee behavior that should apply to all team members (respect, transparency, and collaboration, to name a few).
Last, but not least … No matter which strengths and personalities your employees possess, consider these common traits to assemble well-balanced teams:
• Results-oriented - the name says it all. These employees seem to naturally take charge and are typically competitive, energetic, and confident.
• Relationship-focused - your “people” people have high EQ and are tuned into the feelings and needs of those around them. They foster collaboration and are diplomatic and approachable.
• Detail-oriented - the devil’s in the details, and these employees don’t miss a beat. Reliable and organized by nature, your rule followers respect processes and are your most conscientious team members.
• Innovators - nothing great ever happens without these disruptors of the status quo. Your innovators are inclined to big thinking and new experiences.
• Realists - pragmatic by nature, your realists are often the naysayers or challengers of new ideas and theories. As level-headed contributors, these employees can play help innovators refine their ideas to be more actionable.
The more your leaders know about the most important element of your company (ahem, your people), the more productive, fulfilling environment you can create.
And when managers apply a coaching mindset to teams with diverse traits and motivators, there’s no ceiling on your potential.
For actionable tips on how to engage and motivate your people, check out our e-book, “The Definitive Guide to Employee Development.”