Don’t Just Assess Your Team’s Performance, Cultivate It!

It’s a good time to consider our roles as managers in helping people achieve their potential. In addition to assessing what they’ve done, take the time to consider what you’ve done — and can do — to help them achieve what they might.

Excellence requires opportunity, as does skill building; this is one of the greatest gifts you can give people. It also helps organizations retain employees and improve productivity.

Use These Three Tips To Cultivate High Team Performance And Create Opportunity:

1. Self assess your cultivation performance: Reflect on how much time and effort you invested in creating opportunities to excel and cultivate skill building opportunities for people on your team. How many opportunities did you provide — and did the person know it was an opportunity to excel or skill build? What impact did they have? Candidly compare this to your own experience and ideals.

2. Plan to cultivate talent and opportunities for 2015: Start with a map of skills individuals on the team already have and skills they should build over the year. Layer in excellence they’ve demonstrated and where there is potential to demonstrate excellence in new areas. With this information, develop your roadmap for what you’ll do to create these opportunities. Make it actionable with quarter by quarter actions you will take; hold yourself accountable for your plan.

3. Take pride in the effort and the outcome: Individuals on your team should succeed because of you, not in spite of you. More importantly, helping and watching other people thrive is one of the most gratifying things you can do. Take the effort personally; observe how you feel when your people stretch, grow, learn and excel. A happy professional consequence of your efforts: you’ll be developing your own skills as a leader. Talent development is the hallmark of great senior executives.

Lead by example and put the roadmap into practice in the new year to increase the competencies, capabilities and satisfaction of your team. Join the conversation on this and other topics to share what works best for you.

P.S. Workboard can help you be more efficient in distributing opportunities to excel, in building the fact base to support performance promotions, and quantifying and comparing the impact of people on your team — and your team’s impact on the company.

Build on Strengths, Avoid Weaknesses

At your next set of performance reviews, what are you going to talk about with your employees? You may discuss what goals were met, next year’s objectives, or where their performance needs improvement. But new research suggests that more than fixing flaws, managers should be concerned with building on strengths.  In a recent Forbes article, Joseph Folkman shares research that reveals that “70-80% of leaders and employees benefit more from improving what they are doing right.

If someone on your team is a great writer but lousy at spreadsheets, the tendency is to try to help the employee improve his or her spreadsheet skills. A better practice is to hone this individual’s writing skills. People are less likely to make huge strides in something they’re bad at or hate doing, yet there is a common notion that doing more of those actions builds a more well-rounded employee. On the contrary, as Folkman says, our strengths are what make us successful. The following tips will help you learn your employees’ strengths, build on them, and ultimately reach more goals with your team.

1. Be a good listener

Performance reviews should be a dialogue, a time for managers and employees to have an honest discussion about what hinders performance and what gets the most positive results. Talk to your employees about areas where you see them struggling, as well as where they see trouble for themselves. Explore what they do that has the most impact, what they love doing, and where those intersect. Let your employees give honest feedback, and listen well — chances are they already know where their strengths lie.

Ask them to relate their feedback to examples of actions they’ve performed and successful initiatives in which they’ve participated, then do the same with your own feedback. Grounding the conversation in real examples helps illuminate the path forward.

2. Cultivate strengths

Don’t let your conversation on building strengths and boosting impact end after the formal performance reviews. Cultivating your employees’ strengths is an active process. Weekly one-on-one discussions and periodic informal feedback are the best ways to reinforce what you discussed. Work with all your employees to let their strengths shine, and provide them with the resources to utilize and enhance their abilities on a daily basis. Consider this a business strategy – the more they can relate their strengths to your goals, the more goals they’ll meet.

3. Beware the fatal flaw

This is Folkman’s single caveat in his discussion of strengths in the workplace. He defines a fatal flaw as “a competency in which you receive strong negative feedback results (and/or poor performance review results) or below average capability in an area that is mission critical to your job.” The latter portion of the definition is the most important. Everyone has flaws, and we need to accept that to work with the premise of strengths-based coaching.

A fatal flaw is different in that it prevents someone from performing their job in spite of their strengths. This idea should be approached with caution since not all flaws are fatal flaws, but Folkman does advocate addressing a fatal flaw before playing to your employees’ strengths. Beyond that, build strengths and watch as you realize more goals and achieve higher productivity!

Employees often have a well of potential that remains buried by managers who focus on working with their flaws. Instead of pursuing the ideal of a well-rounded employee, great leaders bring out their teams’ strengths and help them learn to use their talents for the good of the organization. Incorporating the idea of strengths-based coaching into your managerial style will lead to enhanced productivity and fantastic results for you and your company.