How to identify your employee’s strengths for a more productive workforce

How do you stop complacency and keep your employees challenged and engaged? Marianne Page gives TJ some ideas. 

Reading time: 3 minutes.

We’re most productive when we’re in flow, that is to say when we’re working at something we’re naturally good at and that we enjoy. We don’t always notice this when it occurs, but time flies and we’re incredibly efficient – perhaps even skip breaks or lunch because we’re so in the zone.

This is where employers want their teams to be all of the time, however this isn’t sustainable 100% of the time as the team would become exhausted (and malnourished!). In reality we sit somewhere in-between boredom and flow, in our comfort zones.

This is great because you know you have people you trust in roles they enjoy, however they can soon become stale, bored, uninspired. If we do allow our employees to sit in their comfort zones for too long we won’t see progression, we will see stagnation.

In reality we sit somewhere in-between boredom and flow, in our comfort zones. 

Your workforce will be engaged and happy for a while, perhaps a year, but then repetition will kick in and the dissatisfaction with it. As your team master their roles, the challenges they first faced became a distant memory, and if there’s no room for growth then your productive workforce may well start to lose their flow.

So could I propose progression as a challenge? To delve into something alien and new, to try a different role for an afternoon perhaps?

Why not introduce workplace shadowing where someone from your team shadows someone in another role for a few hours once a month. This would push the boundaries of each role and help them to understand the contribution that their colleague has to the business and how they fit into the bigger picture.

Further to this you could then build in peer reviews, where you teach your team to give constructive and positive feedback on their colleagues’ performance in the temporary role. Encourage suggestions for improvement, what they would like to see next time.

Then turn it around – what did the student think of their teacher? Were they an effective leader? Did they feel inspired? What would they do differently in the leader’s role if they could improve something?

Through this exercise, you will uncover improvements to efficiency – there’s nothing like a pair of fresh eyes to point out the obvious. And more than this, you’re internally developing your managers and potential managers.

Work shadowing will soon show you who is a natural leader and teacher. Who is willing to share their knowledge and tips, and who doesn’t align with your business values – who is protecting their role rather than helping a colleague.

Another way of expanding your team members’ roles and skillset is to use your quarterly performance reviews as a time for growth, not just reflection. Ask your employees to come into their reviews with a challenge for themselves.

Ask them what they find difficult or what they would love to master that they always delegate or seek support with. Then build in a plan for them to master this new skill, and give them 90 days to do it, ready for their next performance review.

Make sure this is all systemised and diarised so that you get into a rhythm of overcoming challenges and celebrating progress with your whole team. If you have a training platform, build in random modules so that you don’t fall out of the habit of doing this.

Try this for 90 days, maybe 180 days and you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll seen your workforce – they will feel listened to, positively challenged, and they’ll face their day with a renewed interest that you honestly couldn’t pay for. In turn, you’ll increase productivity and feel so much better about the way you run your business too.


About the author

Marianne Page founder of Marianne Page Ltd. and author of the bestselling book, Simple Logical Repeatable.


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