Doing more with less is the norm in most organizations. We’re asking a lot of our employees, our managers, and our leaders. Unfortunately, most of the emphasis has been on working harder, not smarter. Burnout is the typical result of this well-intentioned approach to keeping our organizations running on high-stress, extra-effort mode.
The alternative is leveraging our human capital in a more intentional, informed way that honors the unique talents of the individuals we employ. It’s not new… work smarter, not harder. This simple directive is something we can all agree on in theory but the HOW that comes next gets a little murky. At Activate Human Capital Group, our HOW answer to the work smarter not harder approach is all about capitalizing on natural aptitudes and talents. Working smarter, not harder is all about aligning talent to roles within the organization.
Assessments can help, but they aren’t the silver bullet
Insightful assessments like DiSC and the StrengthsFinder offer a starting place for conversation and consideration. When integrated properly, they can be powerful tools (learn more HERE), but skimming a short report on an employee’s approach will take you no further than reviewing his/her resume. The value lies in the interpretation and integration of the information. With a little work, we can begin to assign work with thoughtful consideration of employee aptitudes and approach that make the work easier to complete, improve work quality, and simultaneously boost engagement levels.
Many organizations invest in the first step – asking employees to complete assessments. Some of these groups take the next step - asking managers and/or coaches to discuss the results with employees. Few ever apply the findings to running their businesses, to maximize the value and engagement of their teams.
Following the assessment phase, we find that employees may mention their results in passing from time to time, but the information is rarely applied to building teams, assigning projects, or filling roles. Our leadership teams are still looking at what they can fix instead of focusing on the talents already on staff and seeking to utilize them more effectively.
One mission-critical goal should be to align roles with natural talents. The Activate database shows that 59% of employees feel their talents are perfectly aligned with their roles. This is good right? More than half of our workforce feels they’re being given opportunities to do what they do best at work. But compare that with the population of Fully Engaged workers – 96% of Fully Engaged workers feel their talents are PERFECTLY aligned with their roles. If ever there was a silver bullet to helping employees improve their engagement it’s this: show them how their talents can be utilized to win at work… or just get out of the way so they can approach the role in their own unique way.
Who is Implementing these Strategies?
Some of the best companies out there are making this approach work. Stryker Instruments shifted roles for one of their employees to better use his strengths and saved $1 million dollars when he was able to improve electronic production. His manager sites this improvement and enthusiasm as being a marked shift, “The look on his face when he's working is different -- he's much more absorbed in what he's doing. His new position allows him to use his Arranger talents by coordinating a number of in-house and subcontractor resources. His enthusiasm stepped up as well as his impact.”
3M has been successfully integrating strengths into their work culture for decades. They allow their employees to devote up to 15% of their workweek to work-related passion projects. Post-it notes are one notable outcome of these passion projects.
Facebook has also been recognized for investing in the alignment of work with employee talents. They hold monthly over-nighters called “hackathons” which are devoted to developing and sharing employee ideas. Not only are these companies seeing growth financially, but they are seeing improved employee satisfaction and engagement.
Use the ABCD approach to develop Legitimate Leaders, instead of Mediocre Managers
- Align, don’t Fix. Instead of arbitrarily assigning projects to your team, communicate with them about what needs to be done and see who wants to take on tasks or portions of those projects.
- Build diverse teams. Diversity of talent is far richer than diversity of skin color, ethnicity, or gender. Fill gaps within your current team by inserting employees who have a variety of experiences, passions, strengths, and perspectives.
- Create a culture of transparency. Be ready to communicate, about the big and the little. Communication builds trust creates teams that are passionate about one another and the companies they work for.
- Don’t manage… empower. Once you have your team in place, give them the freedom to build for you. Help them grow and trust them to take appropriate risks. This is where creativity and innovation blooms.
Activate can help!
Leadership offers an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact. Activate Human Capital understands that the process of assessing, digesting, and developing talents takes time. We are here to assist you every step of the way. We love helping our clients enable their employees to experience the perfect alignment between their roles and their strengths and we want your leadership team to be the encouraging innovators that they can be. To learn more about StrengthsFinder and our programming, contact Activate Human Capital Group at 530-713-6359 or here. Our team looks forward to drawing out the best in your team today.