In a previous article on the onboarding of employees into your company, I stated that one of the main goals of onboarding, in addition to accelerating the training process and maximizing productivity, is connecting new hires with their colleagues. This is an ongoing process that doesn’t just happen on the first day during orientations and introductions, but carries on throughout their acclimation to their new job and the company. As new hires learn about the resources the company provides for them and where they can access them, they become more productive. And, since a company is comprised of people who work in it, new hires must learn how to effectively communicate with their colleagues as well as understand their strengths. This understanding will be integral to their success in their new job. A better understanding of their strengths can be accomplished through identifying each employee’s talents with an assessment such as the StrengthsFinder, from the Gallup group.

The StrengthsFinder assessment quantifies “personal themes” for each person who takes it, and defines traits out of a selection of 34 discrete attributes, such as adaptability, command, consistency, empathy, and strategic traits. By using this assessment, employees can discover what they are best at, and managers can discover what their employees are able to offer the company as a whole. Using this approach, leaders can build strong bonds among their team as well.

How can this be achieved? If employees are encouraged to develop the skills where they have identified strengths, they will go from natural talent to well-honed ability. As observed by Lisa Shoreland, “As compared to focusing on and improving areas of weakness, focusing on strengths provides more motivation to employees. “  This should be no surprise—who wouldn’t want to spend time on what they’re good at rather than their personal shortcomings? Instead of wasting time building up the areas where they are lacking, employees can turn to a colleague who has known skills in that particular area, and collaborate with them to complete a project or accomplish a goal. As each employee learns to utilize the skill resources their coworkers provide, they will grow closer with each member of their team, learning to trust them more and putting aside some of the issues of ego and anxiety that can put stumbling blocks in front of an employee working alone.

Recently I worked with a client who would place a list of each team member’s identified strengths at each employee’s workspace. By providing this information, new hires would not only be aware of the names and positions but their strengths. The list would take the guesswork out of deciding who would be a project leader by finding the person whose skill was discipline, and could impose order on a group of people coming up with creative ideas that needed organization. With this list, not only would work be accomplished more efficiently, but new hires would feel comfortable in their new jobs faster as they developed unique relationships with each individual around them.

Learning your new hires’ strengths can turn your company from a group of people working in the same building into a successful team, where the whole, as its inside workings cooperate with each other more efficiently, is far more than the sum of its parts.

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