In our previous blog we looked at uncovering your hidden strengths. In this blog, we look at the motivations that help you engage your different strengths and the strengths of your team.
Know Your Hidden Strengths
We all have unique strengths – those skills and abilities that engage and motivate us in our work and daily activities. Your strengths are qualities that energise you. They are things you are good at, that come naturally to you and simply flow from you.
If you’re aware of your strengths, you may grow to enjoy and even love using them.
Knowing and understanding your strengths helps you to work more effectively. Doing what you are good at makes you feel great and motivates you to get work done. It’s a vital cog in your working life.
The Strengths of Your team
If you’ve spent some time identifying your own strengths, you may also have started to identify the strengths of others in your team. You will begin to see when they get into that natural state of ‘flow’, and when they seem energised, excited, positive and proficient at their tasks.
Where teams are encouraged to understand their individual and collective strengths, there is a marked increase in performance. If you know the skills, motivations and values of those you work with, you’re more likely to have a balance in your team, which in turn leads to greater efficiently. Individuals become more engaged with their goals and the objectives of their organisation, because they are actively engaging their strengths and feel that their strengths are valued.
Where teams are not working harmoniously, it’s often because team members individual strengths are being overlooked. Individuals are being encouraged to be “all-rounders” rather than focussed on the things they enjoy. Engagement generally drops and efficiency and profitability drops accordingly.
Knowing the Why
To harness and utilise a team’s strengths effectively, it’s important to understand “the why” that sits behind all strengths.
- Why do different people have the strengths they do?
- What makes them motivated to complete one activity, yet unmotivated by others?
- Why should your team utilise their strengths for you or your organisation? What motivates them in their work environment to use the strengths you’ve identified?
When it comes to motivation, in most organisations, the standard for achieving results is the performance bonus. Hitting KPIs brings rewards. These are not to be dismissed, financial incentives can be motivating factors when it comes to achieving goals. But they are not the only motivator when it comes to utilising strengths
Another motivator that is often rolled out is the inspirational “Mission Statement”, plastered over walls, internal communications and everywhere employees go. The hope being that by a process of magical osmosis, all employees will become engaged and motivated with the organisation’s objectives.
The problem is that rarely do either of these methods breed true loyalty and ongoing, long-term motivation. To quote Simon Sinek, “People don’t work for the sake of figures, they work for the sake of people and relationships.”
The Need to Belong
The most basic human desire is to belong – to share values, belief and a common sense of purpose. As much as a performance bonus can be an excellent motivator, employees don’t get up out of bed in the morning for a KPI.
The key to understanding why people have strengths and why they use them is to understand their values. It is our values and core beliefs that are at the heart of our motivations.
If the values of the individuals in your team are aligned to your organisational objectives and values, you are more likely to feel that you have a motivated team, utilising their strengths in the best ways possible. In this way, your team members feel as though they belong – they are sharing in a common goal and where their values are being fully aligned.
Where organisational objectives feel distant – a dry decree sent down from on-high – individuals often struggle to feel aligned to them. It’s here that motivations dwindle and strengths are underutilised.
Alignment with Organisational Objectives
Translating team objectives to what they mean to the individual is an important step in understanding why members of your team should engage their strengths towards a common goal. If a team feel as though they have a say in the what and how of the tasks they are being asked to complete, they can see more clearly how to meet their objectives.
It’s the role of a leader to help them connect with that. To understand why the people who work for you come to work and especially why they choose to follow you. From there, you can begin to understanding how you can mobilise them to maximise their strengths and manage their performance blocker.
The much-quoted story of the janitor at Nasa is an excellent example of how employees can feel valued and can share in the overall objective of an organisation.
When asked to describe their job at NASA, the janitor who swept the floors responded: “I helped put a man on the moon.”
Alignment with organisational objectives is not simply a box-ticking HR exercise. It’s vitally important for an employee to feel as though they belong to a shared set of values and beliefs, and that their unique strengths are focused in the right direction.
Beware! The Why is Multidimensional
The danger in understanding why someone is motivated is to believe that there is a single answer for each person. In identifying motivations it’s important to be mindful that the “Why” is complex.
There are multiple, complex reasons why we all go to work. The financial obligation is strong, but financial obligations alone do not drive loyalty in a team. Social motivators also figure highly in individual’s needs and values.
We have a need for belonging, for connection and for enjoyment. All of these feed into The Why and can be motivating factors in the engagement of our strengths.
Finding out what your team is energised by and what motivates their strengths allows you to connect those strengths to your common objective.
As long as your objective is clear in the first place …
For more information about understanding your team’s motivations and engaging your team’s strengths to a common objective, talk to us at Co-Creation.