by Guest Blogger – Mandy Smith

I love the saying play to your strengths, as PLAY is exactly what it feels like when you are doing what you love and what you are good at.  It is energising, rewarding and you have that awesome sense of accomplishment.  Sadly for many, this feeling is rare in their 9-5 jobs.

Wouldn’t it be great to have more of that feeling of playing to our strength at in our day to day work lives? Do more of the things that we love and are good at.  Imagine if we gave that gift of being able to play to strengths to our employees.  As energy levels rise and passion increases, so would productivity.

Too often when a team or an individual is under performing, we focus on the areas they are weak in and put a lot of energy into trying to improve these areas.  If we constantly put all our energy into fixing weaknesses, we are unlikely to achieve more than mediocrity.  However, as many successful companies and individuals have discovered, when you put energy into improving what you are already good at, you become exceptional.

I had the opportunity to work with someone recently who was disengaged in her role.  She admitted it was probably time for her to ‘move on’ as she wasn’t really enjoying the work anymore.  While I could see she had skills in research, writing and strategic planning her current role was much more in service delivery.  By sheer luck an opportunity arose that required someone with exceptional research and writing skills to manage a significant project.  Despite her lack of experience in this work, we threw the challenge her way.  What progressed surpassed my expectations.  She embraced the challenge wholeheartedly; she started to arrive at work early, full of energy and ideas.  She managed the new project on top of her current workload, her productivity increased substantially and she and delivered an amazing result with the project.  This reinforced to me that as a Manager it is incredibly important I allow and create opportunities for staff to play to their strengths.

Research by the Gallup Institute shows that People who have the opportunities to focus on their strengths at work are 6 times more likely to be engaged at work.  As I recently discovered an engaged employee doesn’t just give you’re their time, they bring their energy, passion and ideas.

The opportunity to play to our strengths should be a gift we give to ourselves and our staff.

If you are not sure what your strengths are, I can highly recommend the strengthsfinder (1)Tom Rath’s book Strengths Finder 2.0. The book comes with an online assessment tool that takes about 30 minutes to complete and then gives you your top 5 strengths and some ideas for ensuring you are playing to them.

So just for something different this year, when looking at your own and your employees training needs; look at what they are already good at and build on that.