Improving employee performance and customer satisfaction by focusing on strengths
When I first finished my degree I did a series of temp jobs. A lot of these were very short-term receptionist-type roles where I answered the phone and dealt with customer queries.
Despite having no particular affinity with the companies I worked for – and I wasn’t applying anything I’d learnt in my degree – these jobs really suited me and I was good at them. I liked talking to people. I liked being able to help them.
As a result, I got really positive feedback from the agency’s clients. Their customers loved me because I really engaged with them.
So what was going on? Well it turns out (although I didn’t know it at the time) that I was using my strengths, which I now know, via Strengthscope®, include relationship-building, empathy and initiative.
Strengths are defined as those things that energise you at work
And enabling an employee to play to their strengths can make all the difference to their performance – and therefore to engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction.
People perform best, research shows, when they’re able to combine their strengths with their skills and abilities. When they do this successfully it creates for them a sense of ‘flow,’ a state of mind where they’re completely immersed in the activity.
Recruiting people whose strengths correspond with the duties they need to perform in the first place is obviously important – I talked about recruiting for strengths in a previous post.
But how can you use strengths to improve employee performance?
The principle is simple – find out what your employees are motivated by, what they love about their work, what makes them light up – and enable them to do more of it.
What does that mean in practice?
Identify employees’ strengths
The measurement tool I use to identify strengths is Strengthscope® – the only one on the market that’s currently undergoing the British Psychological Society kitemark process.
This psychometric questionnaire will identify the employee’s top seven strengths (taken from a range of 24 strengths) e.g. working with detail, getting to know people, or leading a team etc. Every individual has a unique set of strengths.
Enable employees to make more use of their strengths in the workplace
There are a number of ways that you can help employees make the most of their strengths – to their, your and the business’ advantage.
Job design – could you adapt what the employee does on a day to day basis to enable them to play to their strengths more?
Team-working – could the way a team is organised be arranged around the strengths of individual members e.g. rather than all of them having the same responsibilities could duties be divvied up to correspond with individual strengths?
Development – how could you enable people to maximise their strengths? So often development conversations focus on people’s supposed ‘flaws’ – ‘you’re good at organising your work and getting your tasks done but you need to be better at sharing with others what you’ve learnt.’ Wouldn’t it be more productive and satisfying for both parties to focus on helping them be even better at organising their work and completing tasks – their strengths – instead?
Enabling people to play to their strengths in their role has a direct impact on their performance and engagement. And that can have a direct impact on customer satisfaction too. It really does make good business sense to focus on strengths.
By tapping into my strengths the temp agency had created a win-win situation – I was happy, customers were happy and the agency’s clients were happy.