How can we use character strengths to manage staff with different needs? Coaches and managers at workplaces across the country are facing this common issue. Between the Covid-19 pandemic, childcare concerns, and personal obligations at home, many staff members are struggling with unique needs.
In today’s post, Strong Cincinnati Network explains how the science of character strengths combined with empathy and self-care not only boosts manager’s effectiveness at handling the needs of their employees but also helps staff reduce tensions and flourish, no matter their current environment.
What are the unique needs employees are facing?
Every situation is unique, but many employees cite the following needs:
- Clear Purpose
- Work-Life Balance
- Connection with Others
- Opportunity to Learn New Skills
For employees, the ability to prioritize lifestyle (family and personal interests) while reimagining productivity and purpose are the two main areas of concern, particularly as the Great Resignation continues.
The pandemic and ensuing remote/hybrid options for office workers have amplified the want for envisioning new ways to do work.
How To Find Out Your Employee Needs?
Being a coach or manager fundamentally means working alongside a wide range of personalities, preferences, and working styles. Effective management isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity and requires a fair amount of adaptation.
Whether you’re a new manager or you want tips on adapting to employees in the moment, character strengths can help you manage more efficiently.
Understand Your Core Strengths-and Put Them To Use
Managing staff with different needs can be helped by understanding and using your core strengths. According to the researchers at VIA Institute of Character, we all have a unique constellation of 24 character strengths.
Leaning on your top “signature” strengths-whether they be perspective, social intelligence, zest, or any of the other 24 strengths-allows you to respond in the moment with authenticity. No matter the stressors you face, knowing your unique strengths and the strengths of your employees can move you from reactive to proactive.
Related Post: How Do We Build a Positive Workplace Culture?
3 Ways to Effectively Manage Staff with Different Needs
Effective management doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and trust between manager and staff.
Seek to Understand Each Employee
When managers engage employees; it tends to be focused on upcoming projects or putting out the latest fire. Have your staff take the VIA Survey and share strengths with each other. We’ve seen transformational moments when organizations and teams see their own strengths and the strengths of each other.
Use Character Strengths to Build Relationships
As Devora Zack writes in her book, Managing for People Who Hate Managing, “Results and relationships are intertwined, even inseparable.” When you build relationships, you avoid labeling employees and begin to see them for who they are. The employee who seems disengaged or aloof becomes the one who’s sure not where his creativity fits in the organization. The know-it-all employee who seems self-serving becomes the person who’s overusing her prudence strength to keep the team on the right track. The shy employee who never speaks up in meetings becomes the one who’s got a high strength of humility and needs to be encouraged to participate/take credit.
Learn What’s Most Important to Them
Is flexibility and trust most important to this employee? Does this employee really want a clear path of achievement and promotion? Or does this employee want to become a mentor to other staff? Engage employees in one-on-one check-ins and find what they’d like most within and beyond their job descriptions.
Benefits of Using Character Strengths to Manage Employees
When managers and employees focus on character strengths, it has a positive impact on their team’s ability to get along, work together, and feel connected. Research on the Strong Cincinnati Institute shows individuals who activate their strengths regularly at work are 18 times more likely to be flourishing.
As individuals and teams know, see, and apply their strengths, organizations see increased communications, improved relationships, and positive feedback. The vast majority also indicated experiencing a greater sense of purpose in their work, are more motivated to do well, and have been more successful in achieving objectives.
Overall, strengths-based management tends to help:
- Increase employee engagement and performance
In a study by Zenger and Folkman, nearly 70% of respondents said that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Instead of a generic “good job”, imagine the impact of giving an employee specific and intentional feedback on the strengths they bring to a project? Research shows that positive manager feedback creates trust and increases performance.
- Effectively connect with people around you
Leaning into character strengths and recognizing the strengths of your team can enhance your ability to build authentic relationships with employees, managers, and partners, making it easier to understand the needs of those around you.
- Promote a positive workplace culture
By learning your employees’ strengths, building trusting relationships, and finding their priorities, managers will be able to cultivate a positive, strengths-based culture in their teams and organizations. Strengths-based cultures see decreases in absenteeism/turnover and increases in productivity and team morale.
Use Character Strengths to Manage Employees with Different Needs
Finally, knowing the strengths of both yourself and understanding the strengths and needs of your employees will help you better support them. Remember that effective management isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity, and every person is a unique constellation of 24-character strengths.
Which of your strengths excites you most as a manager? Is it the opportunity to support and encourage your employees? (Social Intelligence, Kindness) Is it modeling authenticity and integrity in the workplace? (Honesty, Perspective) Is it the new and interesting projects you get to guide employees through? (Curiosity, Love of Learning)
When managing employees with different needs, your distinctive strengths are some of your greatest tools. They will help you navigate situations while building trusting relationships with your team.
Contact Mayerson Academy for Strengths-Based Organizational Consulting
If you’re working to transform the culture of your team or organization, don’t struggle alone. Our experienced team of change-makers and consultants is dedicated to helping you and your staff succeed. Start a conversation with us to ﬁnd out about Strong Cincinnati Institute, our six-session cohort-based learning experience that helps promote a positive culture shift within organizations. Connect here or call us at 513-263-2210.
Feedback: The Powerful Paradox, Zenger and Folkman, April 13, 2019
Managing for People Who Hate Managing, Devora Zack, August 27, 2012