Your learning and development (L&D) strategy is critical. It speaks to the organization’s ability to compete by developing in-house talent. It addresses crucial skill gaps and helps ensure improved employee retention over their lifecycle. However, despite that importance, there is a good chance your strategy is missing a key component: strengths discovery. It is a good idea to benchmark what are the key strengths of L&D strategy.
What is L&D Strategy Strengths Discovery?
Strengths discovery is exactly what it sounds like – the ability to discover the strengths your team members already possess. It’s about finding out what they do best and then finding ways to let them do that every single day within the organization.
Many managers stumble here. Aren’t employees already in roles that speak to their strengths? Actually, that’s rarely the case. In fact, according to Gallup, many employees are not in roles that rely on their strengths, but finding ways to help them do what they do best can offer some profound benefits, including:
- A 15% reduction in the chance that they will quit their job
- A 6x increase in engagement
- An 8% increase in productivity
- An increase in quality of life
Why Does Strengths Discovery Matter?
From the information above, we can already glean a few important reasons to focus on strengths discovery. However, there is much more to it than that. With the right strategy in place, you can:
- Attract the Right Talent: With an understanding of the strengths needed for various positions, you can attract the right talent. This applies not just to new hires from outside the company, but from within your current workforce. Of course, this will require that employees understand their core strengths, which we’ll address later in this post. New trends in talent development indicate that attracting the right talent could hinge on the strengths of your L&D strategy since many new hires want to be equipped with the tools and resources to succeed when they come onboard.
- Improved Ability to Compete: An organization with the right talent in the right places will always outperform an organization that does not consider employee strengths if all other things are equal. A small investment of time and effort here can help you gain better competitive abilities.
- Creating Advocates: When you help employees recognize their strengths and find roles that allow them to work toward those strengths, you create the opportunity for employees to become more, to evolve into brand advocates. Advocates are some of your most powerful assets and help promote the organization in many different ways, attract the best talent, and even radically alter your culture for the better.
How to Surface Employee Strengths
As you can see, there are many benefits to discovering employees’ strengths. However, the challenge is surfacing that information. Most people are focused more on their weaknesses than their strengths. If you think back to the most recent one-on-one you had, chances are good the employee was much better able to come up with things they needed to improve upon than they were areas where they excelled or in achievements they were proud of.
So, given that natural inclination to focus on the negative, how do you get employees to focus on what they are best at?
- Have Frank Discussions – While most people have a natural tendency to gloss over our strengths and focus on our weaknesses, you can turn that around. With frank discussions, you can delve into what they do best. However, doing so will require a few things, such as:
- Thank employees for getting out of their comfort zone when they do talk about their strengths.
- Don’t criticize or penalize employees for attempting to build on a strength and failing.
- Express gratitude for good work done and then follow that up with a strengths-focused conversation.
- Get Outside Perspective – Another powerful way to dive into employee strengths is to ask someone else. We’re often our own worst critics, so any information you get from an employee has a chance to be skewed. Other people have a more accurate view of what we do well, and what we do poorly, so asking coworkers and team members may be a viable option. It’s also worth noting that you can cast a wider net here when possible. Asking family members and friends can shed a lot of light on skills, knowledge, and abilities that might go unnoticed.
- Observe – Take time and simply observe the employee. Watch how they go about their daily routines and how they complete their responsibilities. How do they interact with others? Do their coworkers come to them with problems? That could be a sign of being a good listener, or it could be a sign of natural leadership. Observe how employees interact and work and then start connecting the dots on your own.
- Competition – If you want a deep look at employee strengths (and weaknesses) a competition may be an option that may shed light on who excels in specific areas and who is not a team player.
How to Build on Employee Strengths
However you do it, identifying employee strengths is an important first step. However, it is just the first of several. Next, you need to build on those. After all, it does not matter how much natural aptitude someone has – if they never develop that capability further, it will simply stagnate. How do you build on employee strengths?
- Self-Led Learning – One option, and one that’s well-suited to a modern LMS like eLeaP – is to give them free rein when it comes to what they learn and when. Your learners will naturally gravitate toward things that interest them (usually strengths, even if they’re hidden). As they learn, they’ll develop, and you can find ways to build on that development.
- Change Roles – Once you have determined employee strengths, change their roles within the department or team so that they are performing duties more in line with their capabilities.
- Projects – Assign team projects (or create new teams) based on skills assessments so that employees can do things that deeply engage them.
In the end, identifying employee strengths and then building on them helps create a stronger, more resilient organization and a deeply engaged workforce. It will require time and intentionality, but it is possible to work with employees to identify their strengths and then help them grow into new roles. Of course do make sure this is aligned with overall strength of L&D strategy and organizational goals and objectives.