When employees were asked if they could answer positively that they felt like their job provided them a regular opportunity to work from their strengths (and passions), only 2 out of 10 could agree. Twenty percent. The other eighty percent of our employees are waiting to be challenged or inspired. That feels depressing, right? It is if you manage people.
What Can We Do About This
I write about leadership on a different blog. But over at LearnDash I've spent the last couple weeks doing a lot of interviewing and hiring. I have a new member of our team joining on Monday. And honestly, I can't wait.
But I don't step into it with blind hope and faith that they (or any of our other new staff joining us soon) will just step in and be part of the 20%.
So it's top of mind right now. And I ask myself, what can we do about helping people feel empowered.
Here's another question to ask:
Are we empowering people or locking them down?
Employees Are Waiting…
No one wants to suck at their job. They also don't want to have a sucky job.
What it tells me is that is that both employers and employees win when they're working from their strengths.
But what are we doing with our staff to make sure they are working from their strengths?
More importantly, do they even know what fuels them?
After all, not everything they can do well is a strength. I can answer the phone pretty well, even make outbound calls just fine, but it's a draining activity for me.
In the end, we're both going to win – employers and employees – if we know what everyone's strengths are, and we design roles for the people we hire (not the other way around).
If not, they'll just sit there waiting for an opportunity to shine. But they won't wait forever, and soon enough, they'll take off.
I am feeling this very strongly as we're losing, at our parent company, two great and talented folks. Sure they got great new opportunities. But I can't help but think that they might have been in the spots where the other 80% were – not able to say they were in a position to work from their strengths completely.
So What Do We Do?
I think there are three things we can do. Or maybe I should say it this way. I feel like there are three things I'm focused on doing. And maybe this can help you too.
First, I look for people I want to work with and invite them to join me. What I'm saying here is that skills are only part of my hiring equation. I don't only hire for skills. Because I know people can learn things. Pretty easily if you give them the opportunities and resources. I like skills. But for each role I'm filling, I am hiring a human being, not a human doing. So I want to make sure that the folks I hire bring the right personality, experience, eagerness, and passion to the role.
Second, I want to make sure they have clarity on their strengths and skills. That may mean getting them to take something like the Kolbe A, or StrengthsFinder. We're going to be much better able to co-create their job if we know what their strengths are.
Third, I want to shape their day to day jobs in a way that matches their passions, skills and strengths. Like I said, I want to shape the role for the person, not the person for the role.
It's Time To Get Started
I am working on getting an offer letter ready for one new employee. I have another new employee starting Monday. I am finalizing the hiring of a third. And I have another starting soon. That's a lot of new folks to onboard.
What I know is I don't want them waiting around. I don't want them to answer that they can't do their absolute best because their job isn't aligned with their strengths. And I don't want them walking away because their jobs were ordinary, boring or frustrating.
Life is too short. I want them thrilled to be here. I want them to love their job.
So it's time to get started!