Edwin Sim | Today's Manager
Engaging staffs’ strengths and putting them to good use at work keeps them motivated, driven, and excited about what they do.
Upon conducting a ‘Happiness @ Work’ workshop for a client, I was delighted when an enlightened supervisor said that if her staff were happy, she would benefit from low absenteeism, fewer conflicts among team members, and a greater willingness to take on projects and help fellow colleagues among other things.
I once read that “the main thing that is always on the mind of the chief executive officer (CEO) of Starbucks, Mr Howard Schultz is how to ensure that his staff is happy”. Starbucks’ employees are called ‘partners’. Starbucks invests in these partners and makes them feel important.
In contrast to most other Fortune 500 companies, Starbucks consistently spends more on training than it does on advertising. The employee turnover rate at Starbucks, according to some reports, is 120 per cent less than the industry average.
Ms Maryann Hammers states in Workforce Management that: “Starbucks employees have an 82 per cent job-satisfaction rate, according to a Hewitt Associates Starbucks Partner View Survey. This surpasses the 50 per cent satisfaction rate for all employers and 74 per cent for Hewitt’s ‘Best Place to Work’ employers.”
How different would it be if your staff (and you) are happy about going to work and are intrinsically motivated instead of being driven by monetary gain? True, everyone needs to pay the bills but there are more things that motivate and drive a person to wake up daily for work.
Supervisors need to help their staff find their own personal happiness everyday as an individual and not just as an employee. One strategy used by managers and leaders to increase engagement and happiness at the workplace is through engaging staffs’ strengths.
According to Gallup Research, the two strong determinants whether a staff would stay in a job and remain engaged are:
- The individual knows his/her strengths and has ample opportunities to use his/her strengths on the job; and
- The supervisor knows the strength(s) of the staff.
Think about it. Wouldn’t you feel motivated and excited when you get to put your strengths to good use in the workplace? Wouldn’t you put in more effort and give your best doing what you are good at and enjoy doing?
You may ask, “What is my strength?” Author and business consultant, Mr Marcus Buckingham defines strengths as:
- When thinking about the task, you are excited and you anticipate the activity;
- When doing the task, you tend to lose track of time; and
- Once the task is completed, you have more energy than before.
I know of someone who was working in the training department of a company as a training executive. His job required him to handle training administration, reports, and manage the learning management system. He was unhappy and dissatisfied with what he was doing but knew that working in the training department was something he had always wanted. One day, he was asked to help facilitate a small segment in a staff onboarding programme and he fell in love with it. Not only was he excited about conducting training, he enjoyed the process so much that even after the session, he still thought about creative ways to improve his performance. Secretly, he was looking forward to the next opportunity to stand in front of a class. Eventually, he approached his boss and asked for an opportunity to do more of the same. Today, he is a full-time trainer and thoroughly enjoying his job.
Have you been using your strengths at work and putting them to good use? When was the last time you spoke to your staff about their strengths? If you have not, perhaps, the best place to begin is to start observing your staff and knowing them more. Find out what excites them, what their talents and preferences are, and explore how they can put their strengths to use in your workplace.
Mr Edwin Sim has over 20 years of professional experiences in law enforcement, information and communication technology, as well as human and organisational development. Mr Sim held senior leadership positions in leading and global training and consultancy firms. His passion lies in designing effective learning interventions that empower teams in their performance, redesigning established practices, and driving organisational change and culture.
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