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Team Member Strengths: How to Identify & Empower Team Members

Learn how to use your team members’ strengths as a means to motivate your team, while simultaneously hitting your goals!

By Kate Dagher  •   November 21, 2022  •   7 min read

An essential part of managing a team is identifying your team members’ strengths and using them in particular areas as a means to effectively attain your organizational goals. A successful team is comprised of good team players who actively work together collaboratively, balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When individuals learn how to effectively work together, it creates a work environment that is fueled by intrinsic motivation—with a workforce that has a positive attitude and with team members who are aware of their strengths—so they can use these strengths to their advantage. 

Because it’s so beneficial to identify, leverage, and empower team members, this article will cover the importance of using team members’ strengths, the distinct benefits, some examples of team strengths, and specific ways you can build on your employees’ areas of strength. 

Why is it important to build team strengths? 

It’s important to focus on building team strengths because doing so fosters employee engagement and motivation, since employees know their manager is investing time and energy into their development. Building team strengths also helps employees build confidence at work, since this recognition of strengths lets employees know that their efforts don’t go unnoticed. Leveraging different people’s strengths tends to help the team accomplish tasks or projects more effectively, as each person is being used more effectively in particular areas. Not only does this build teamwork skills and communication skills, but it also helps the business hit its goals with more ease. Additionally, investing in building team strengths means there’s a focus on career development and growth opportunities, which makes for ideal team players. 

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Benefits of focusing on team members’ strengths

There are several benefits of focusing on team members’ strengths. Firstly, doing so helps you to get to know your team members on both a personal and professional level. To develop these relationships, it’s essential to conduct regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. With Fellow, you can organize and participate in one-on-one conversations with ease so you stay more organized, show up prepared, save time, and exchange valuable feedback. It’s also beneficial to focus on your team members’ strengths because doing so allows you to flag areas for improvement and collaborate on problem solving, encourages and empowers team members, and ultimately leads to your employees building strong self-confidence. When employees feel motivated and satisfied at work, they’re much more likely to remain with the company for the long term, meaning you’ll retain your top talent. 

Examples of team member strengths to look for 

There are infinite examples of team member strengths to look for, but here are a few common strengths that you can look to flag in your workforce to build effective teams: 

Creativity: Creative employees tend to think outside of the box to find innovative approaches to challenges and dynamic approaches to problem-solving.  

Social intelligence: Employees who are socially intelligent have strong self-awareness, tend to be good facilitators, engage in active listening, and are comfortable in a crowd. 

Self-management: Those who self-manage themselves are independent, able to take initiative, and are ultimately reliable in getting their tasks completed with minimal guidance or direction. 

Organization: Employees who have strong organizational skills tend to be punctual, on top of their to-do lists, and are often the ones reminding their teammates of upcoming responsibilities, tasks, meetings, or events. 

Collaboration: Some employees thrive working in a team environment with others, which is extremely useful for brainstorming, problem-solving, and working towards hitting organizational goals. 

Analytical thinking: Analytical thinkers are able to break down complex qualitative and quantitative information relatively quickly and come up with solutions, suggestions, and insights. 

Discipline: Employees who have strong willpower are able to put their phones away for the day or hit tight deadlines every single time, show great discipline, and tend to work well under pressure. 

Persistence: Those who show resilience in the face of challenges and continue to overcome these challenges show great persistence and commitment to the team. 

Persuasion: Some employees will be gifted in persuasion or negotiation skills. These employees tend to be strong communicators and are usually comfortable giving presentations with internal and external stakeholders. 

Energy: Energetic employees are likely to have a positive attitude and create a pleasant work environment for everyone to enjoy. 

Work ethic: Employees who have a good work ethic maintain a good pace of productivity throughout the day, are self-starters, and have growth mindsets

11 ways to build on team members’ strengths 

1Identify the strengths

An essential part of building on team members’ strengths is to identify them. There are many ways you can identify employees’ strengths, whether through particular tests that have been developed by psychologists, by conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, or through a self-assessment or a peer assessment, for example. Ensure that you give some time for reflection and consider employees’ own identifications of strengths as well. 

2Apply individual strengths to achieve the team’s overall goals

Once you have identified your employees’ strengths, you can start assigning employees to particular tasks or areas of the business based on what they’re good at to achieve organizational goals. People tend to enjoy engaging in work they’re naturally good at, and this will promote great opportunities for collaboration. Moreover, this is a great time management strategy since it will take you less time to accomplish tasks when you have experts working in their areas of expertise. 

3Assign team projects based on strengths

It’s extremely effective to assign team projects based on the strengths of individuals. Identify which kinds of skills, abilities, experiences, and competencies will be effective for completing the project successfully, and then see if you can match the organizational requirements to particular team members. Employees are more likely to enjoy working with others who are also comfortable and prepared to apply their knowledge to a particular project. 

4Incorporate strengths into career conversations and reviews

When you’re having career conversations with your employees, be sure to incorporate their strengths into the discussion. Not only is doing so important for mapping out their professional growth and career development, but it’s also a great opportunity to give employees recognition for being great team members or for completing a task with a high degree of effectiveness. 

5Help employees align their strengths to the expectations and responsibilities of their roles

Support your employees in aligning their strengths to the expectations and the responsibilities of their positions at the company. Encourage employees to engage in self-reflection and self-evaluations so they can take the reins on their own career development and ensure that their skills and abilities are sufficiently aligning with the requirements of the job. 

6Use strengths to evaluate team members

While it’s important to identify both strengths and weaknesses, placing a focus on strengths to evaluate your team members is effective in identifying how they’re doing in their positions. When you choose to focus on what is going well and on assigning team members to what they’re good at, amazing things happen.

7Open career growth opportunities or training for your team

Make sure you’re offering attractive career growth opportunities, training, and development to your team members. Giving the autonomy to your team to choose what kinds of learning opportunities they would like to engage in means that they’re more likely to enjoy the training and will therefore be more attentive and retain more information to then apply to their jobs.

Pro tip: Encourage team members to take ownership of their careers by using this free template.

8Offer professional development

Offer attractive professional development opportunities in areas of employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Having these professional development outlets and encouraging employees shows them that you’re there to support them and encourage them forward in their careers, creating more trust and more confidence in their roles. 

9Encourage team members to act as “strengths advocates”

Encourage your team members to act as “strengths advocates” in the sense that they should be proud of their strengths and make them known to others so these strengths can be put into action. This will also help encourage others to use their talents and gifts more fully as they see their colleagues embracing their talents. 

10Help employees recognize one another’s strengths

It’s also important to encourage employees to recognize each other’s strengths and great team players. Not only does this improve team morale, but it also really helps build the confidence of colleagues and motivates people to continue working towards mastering specific skills or competencies. This peer recognition promotes better collaboration and communication. 

11Encourage employees to take responsibility for their own career opportunities 

Lastly, encourage team members to take responsibility for their own growth, learning, and career opportunities. Whether this is through handling special assignments, working with particular colleagues, or participating in off-site activities, it’s essential that every team player takes the reins on their own career and uses their intrinsic motivation to get to where they want to be. 

Parting advice

Playing to your team members’ strengths is great for their own motivation and is also extremely effective as a business strategy for achieving your organizational goals with better success. An outstanding team player is someone who is in their element and working in flow—with enjoyment and with ease! In fact, this is what distinguishes a good team member from a great team member. When organizations begin to focus on leveraging individual strengths, they’re able to attain and surmount their expectations of success as they celebrate people’s areas of expertise.

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