A new school year is right around the corner – time for back-to-school shopping and wrapping up summer reading. In preparing for the new year, I came across a poster that my son’s class completed at the end of last year. Each student took home a poster full of compliments from classmates and teachers. In reading through my son’s, I realized that many of the “compliments” were about his talents. For example his teacher wrote, “You are my little leader. You set the mood for the class. If you say ‘yes,’ everyone will follow.”
I am already noticing that leader talent in my 11-year-old, and others are picking up on it as well. That’s because our strengths are hard-wired in us from a very early age, and when they are strong, people notice and appreciate them.
In order to develop our talents over time, we have to practice using them. As kids, many of us learned the value of practice. As we participated in sports, dance, music or academics, we realized that we got better when we practiced. It’s the same for adults! You can continue to grow and develop your strengths with practice.
Besides practice, when managing people there are several things you can do to help develop the talents of your team. Here are 5 practical ways to help people build on their strengths:
1. Use a talent assessment.
A talent assessment like the Sales Talent Interview helps you to identify the natural abilities of each individual in order to help them focus on strengths and manage any weaknesses. Some talents are easier to see than others, and a talent assessment shines the light on the most intense areas of talent and where coaching will pay off the most.
2. Tell them what they did well.
Providing people with feedback on their performance will keep them focused on their strengths and give you an opportunity to grow them. When giving feedback, it is helpful to be as specific as possible and tell people exactly what you liked. Try and focus on strengths more than weaknesses.
3. Spend time coaching.
Just because someone has a natural talent doesn’t mean they know how to use it. A good coach can help an individual realize their potential, push them to achieve more, and teach them how to get better.
4. Create individualized coaching plans.
Treating everyone all the same may actually negatively impact performance. It is important to treat everyone differently because everyone IS different. People are motivated by different things, they learn information in different ways, and they need different things from their managers. It is crucial to build a customized coaching plan for each individual to help them reach their greatest potential.
5. Match talent to task.
In delegating, give the project or task to the person who is the best fit for it, not simply the person who is available. Before you give responsibility to someone, ask yourself if it is the person who has the talent for it.
Identifying the talents that each individual brings to your team will allow you to coach and develop their strengths which will lead to better results.