Employees crave feedback, but are you providing the kind of feedback that will engage your people? While many employers focus on how employees could improve, research shows focusing on an employee’s strengths instead of their weaknesses is the way to go.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that the American workforce is approaching an employee engagement crisis. A staggering 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged on the job, and this could spell disaster for your company’s productivity and bottom line. Companies with strong employee engagement report 22 percent higher productivity, revealing that disengaged teams are leaving a lot of unfinished work on the table. So, unless your people are brutally dedicated, it might be time to rethink your feedback methods.
Don’t get discouraged, because there’s a solution in sight. Strengths-based feedback – focusing on the positives of an employee’s performance instead of dwelling on the negatives – is the answer. In fact, 99 percent of employees surveyed indicated they felt more engaged in the workplace when managers took a strengths-based approach.
Here’s why you should consider supporting your team and how to implement a strengths-based approach:
The Case for Strengths-Based Feedback
In an article in Human Capital Review, authors Robert Biswas-Diener and Nicky Garcea revealed the primary benefit of a strengths-based approach to feedback over pointing out an employee’s flaws: more productive people. They cite a survey by the Corporate Leadership Council, which found a strengths-based approach to leadership resulted in a 36 percent increase in productivity.
So, greater productivity from your workforce helps your company’s bottom-line, but it can also help your engagement challenges. In a survey by the Center for Applied Positive Psychology, it was found the most highly engaged employees reported using their strengths 70 percent of the time. When employees feel like they’re contributing positively to an organization, they’re more likely to be involved and engaged.
Plus, these team members are also more likely to stick around, saving you expensive employee turnover. With a strengths focus, 84 percent of employees planned to work in their organization a year later, contrasted with only 37 percent in companies without a strengths-based approach.
How to Identify the Strengths of Your Team
So, how do you play to strengths instead of play up weaknesses? The first step is identifying the strengths of your team, and for this you’ll need proper talent alignment and a focus on goals.
You might want to consider encouraging employees to track their own progress toward goals in real-time. Not only does real-time tracking help employees take ownership of their work, but also it can allow you to see how your team is contributing and where they can be improved.
At ClearCompany, we call this focused engagement. While productivity is wonderful, and low turnover is even better, you still have to be certain that your organization is aligned. When your people are more productive, and that disproportionate effort is focused on the right things, the results can be explosive.
How to Put Strengths-Based Feedback into Action
Putting strengths-based feedback into action requires continuous communication and improved organizational transparency. At the root of proper communication and transparency is goal alignment. If you keep your best people aligned with organizational objectives and focused on the goals they need to accomplish, you’ll be giving the gift of transparency and making communication more seamless.
By empowering your team with clear goals and communication, you make it easier for the communication process to work smoothly up and down the organizational hierarchies. Since goal alignment and organizational transparency help define what success looks like in the first place, you can give the detailed strengths-based feedback your team craves.
Become a resource and mentor for your team by guiding them and ensuring they work on the right projects. Perhaps productivity is low because your individual team members are working on the wrong tasks. Through greater transparency, communication, and real-time tracking you can ensure every employee is working up to their full potential. This might initially mean switching around projects and tasks, but you’ll benefit in the long-run when your talented employees are using their biggest strengths on the job.
Giving strengths-based feedback means knowing where your organization is going and understanding your workforce enough to delineate roles with strengths in mind. If you play to strengths, however, you’ll have a more productive and engaged team.