Grace Smith
February 19, 2024

Data from Gallup reveals that employees who learn their strengths are 7.8% more productive than the ones who have no idea where their strength lies.

The same applies to weaknesses as well. Employees who have a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses have an almost accurate self-image, which helps tremendously in improving their performance.

But how do we know what employee strengths are? It is easier said than done, actually. As a manager, it is so important that you know how efficient your employees are so that you can guide them properly. So here is a manager guide to identifying employee strengths and weaknesses.

360 Degree Feedback and Employee Evaluation

Before we get into the methods used by companies to properly analyze the strengths and weaknesses of employees, it is important to gain an understanding of the role 360-degree feedback plays in all of this.

360-degree feedback comprises peer, colleague, management, and customer input. This differs from manager-only reviews. This technique employs several sources to accurately assess a person's strengths and areas for improvement.

The persons assessing you in 360-degree reviews include your colleagues, supervisor, subordinates (if relevant), and sometimes customers. This range of perspectives makes the examination more thorough and difficult. 360-degree comments provide the whole picture, help you learn more about your employees, increase communication, and are fair. 

By adding other perspectives, we are able to decrease prejudice, create open channels of communication, and receive a full picture of a person's performance.

Companies should prioritize 360-degree feedback training to ensure everyone understands how it works and why it's essential.

Be explicit about goals and expectations, provide honest criticism, knowing it will be kept anonymous, and create follow-up methods to assist staff in solving problems.

In general performance management, 360-degree feedback is vital for creating individual development plans and ensures alignment with organizational objectives.

How to Define Employee Strengths

Employee strengths encompass the unique blend of skills, talents, and personal attributes that an individual brings to their professional role. These strengths can be broadly categorized into three main areas: technical skills, interpersonal skills, and innate talents or characteristics.

  1. Technical Skills: These are the hard skills acquired through education, training, and experience that are directly related to job performance. Examples include proficiency in specific software, knowledge of industry-specific regulations, and advanced technical expertise in a field.
  2. Interpersonal Skills: Often referred to as "soft skills," these include abilities that facilitate effective communication and interaction with others. Strong interpersonal skills might manifest as exceptional leadership, teamwork, empathy, negotiation abilities, and conflict resolution skills.
  3. Innate Talents and Characteristics: These are the natural talents and personal attributes that individuals inherently possess. This category can include a wide range of strengths, such as creativity, critical thinking, adaptability, motivation, resilience, and a positive attitude. These innate qualities often enhance an employee's ability to navigate challenges, innovate, and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

Identifying and leveraging these strengths within a team setting allows for a more engaged, productive, and harmonious work environment. Recognizing the value in each of these areas and integrating them into daily operations can significantly enhance your organization's performance and employees' satisfaction.

How to Identify Employee Strengths

Now, we move on to the actual process of identifying employee strengths. There are a ton of ways in which organizations can figure out what their employees' biggest assets are. Some of the most efficient ones are listed below:

1. Keep an open eye during the onboarding process

The onboarding process actually says quite a lot about the strengths of an employee if you know where to look for them. During the process of onboarding, employees are subjected to a ton of new information.

The way they react to the new environment and the level of eagerness they show when it comes to learning new things are all areas that show us where the strengths of an employee lie. 

2. Conduct in-depth interviews

An excellent way to uncover the hidden strengths of employees is to conduct detailed one-on-one interviews with your employees. Here, you can ask employees about experiences they have had earlier in their lives and specific instances where they had to overcome a hard situation. These series of questions help uncover talents that the employee possesses. 

3. Performance reviews 

Of course, performance reviews are excellent when your employee has been working for your company for some time now and you have an actual set of records to look at.

Performance reviews usually have information regarding the past performance of employees.

Here, managers can see the tasks they excelled in and the tasks they had a difficult time completing. In such an aspect, a performance review helps gain a clear picture of where the employees shine and where they need an extra helping hand in. 

4. Close observation

If you do not have an existing set of performance records to see a pattern, another effective method is to closely observe the functions of the employee. Although it can be a tad bit time-consuming than the rest of the methods, it is effective in identifying skills that might otherwise have remained hidden.

The best way to figure out the area of strength of an employee is to observe them in their workplace. It gives a clear and unbiased idea of the strength an employee possesses. 

5. Pulse surveys and feedback surveys

Cleverly structured pulse and feedback surveys are great for finding out the strengths of your employees.

You can include questions like the tasks the employee found particularly hard to complete or an example of an activity they excelled in in the survey.

You can also divide the prepared questions into sections analyzing different aspects of the employee, like their interpersonal skills, technical skills, and overall attitude. 

6. Online research

There is almost no one in today’s time and age who does not have a digital presence.

Social media is where everyone shares their personal and professional opinions as well as anything else they deem worth sharing. If your employees have provided the details of their social media handles for you, doing thorough online research can be a great load of help.

People show their personal side on their social media accounts, which can be hard to observe in an official setting. So, online research is another great way to learn more about your employees. 

7. Assign varied tasks

You can plan a set of tastes that require different sets of skills and mindsets to complete.

By doing so, you can actually see where the employees have excelled and where they have not. It is another useful way to identify the employee's strengths. It might be a bit time-consuming, but the results are worth it. 

8. Make use of strengths assessments

Utilize a variety of strengths assessments, such as Gallup's CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) and the DISC assessment, to gain insights into your employees' behavioral patterns, preferences, and strengths.

Encourage employees to participate earnestly in these assessments for the most accurate and beneficial results.

Read more: 9 Fun Ways to Encourage Employee Survey Participation

By leveraging these diverse methods, organizations can uncover the unique strengths of each employee, laying a solid foundation for tailored development and optimized team performance.

How to Develop Employee Strengths

Enhancing the strengths of your employees not only boosts their confidence but also contributes significantly to the organization's success. Here's a comprehensive guide to developing these strengths effectively:

1. Acknowledge and Communicate

Begin by recognizing and communicating each employee's strengths directly to them. Clear acknowledgment encourages self-awareness and motivation to further develop these areas.

2. Tailored Assignments

Assign tasks and projects that align with their strengths. This strategic alignment not only optimizes productivity but also ensures employees are engaged and satisfied with their work.

3. Create Development Plans

Work with each employee to create personalized development plans that focus on enhancing their strengths. These plans should include specific goals, action steps, and timelines.

4. Offer Relevant Training

Provide access to training programs, workshops, and seminars that are designed to enhance their identified strengths. Consider both in-house and external learning opportunities.

5. Mentorship Programs

Pair employees with mentors who excel in similar areas. Mentorship provides personalized guidance, feedback, and support in developing their strengths further.

6. Encourage Cross-Team Projects

Involve employees in cross-functional teams where they can utilize and hone their strengths in diverse settings. This exposure broadens their experience and fosters innovation.

7. Feedback and Recognition

Regularly provide constructive feedback on their performance, specifically highlighting how their strengths contribute to their achievements.

ThriveSparrow's hidden strengths summary in its Performance Module
ThriveSparrow's Hidden Strengths and blindspots are generated by collecting and organizing constructive feedback from peers, supervisors, and/or direct reports.

Recognize and celebrate these strengths publicly to boost morale and encourage further development.

8. Challenge Them

Gradually increase the complexity and scope of their responsibilities to challenge them. Facing new challenges helps employees stretch their capabilities and discover new facets of their strengths.

9. Support Risk-Taking

Encourage employees to take calculated risks in projects or tasks that leverage their strengths. A supportive environment for risk-taking fosters growth and learning.

10. Continuous Reflection and Adjustment

Regularly review the development plans with employees to reflect on their progress and make necessary adjustments. This iterative process ensures that the focus remains on effectively developing their strengths.

By systematically following these steps, managers can create a dynamic workplace that not only recognizes but actively develops employee strengths, leading to a more engaged, productive, and resilient workforce.

Employee Weaknesses That Are Actually Strengths

We often have an archaic view when it comes to what is considered a weakness for an employee. But with changing times, we have come to understand that not all things we consider as weaknesses are actually weaknesses.

Some are actually strengths that help employees even better. Let us look at some of these weaknesses which turn out to be strengths in actuality:

1. Introverted

There are many skills and abilities that only introverts have that other people don't have. You shouldn't feel bad about being shy. In fact, it can help your career if you treat yourself with respect and keep your tastes in mind.

People who are introverts can be very artistic and very focused. Most of the time, they are well-prepared.

They also listen really well. They often write really well. They can also be great examples for other people. Being shy can make you stand out at work. In other words, as long as you let yourself be who you are.

If you try to do things like an extrovert would, you'll probably feel tired and drained pretty quickly. So, show respect for your introversion by giving yourself time to be alone in peaceful and quiet places when you can. Having some alone time or being outside can also help a lot.

2. Pessimism

Being too upbeat when it's not necessary won't help in a workplace. It's not always a good thing to be upbeat at work.

Seeing issues and challenges clearly helps you overcome them. Underestimating difficulties will hurt your business. Instead of solving the situation, "staying positive" may make it worse. Being pessimistic might help you spot or anticipate workplace issues, which is excellent. Negativity helps because it prevents surprises when issues arise.

3. Cluttered work desk 

Having a clean and organized room can help you stay on track. It's not for everyone, though. Some people who are more artistic keep their workspaces pretty messy. One study even found that having a messy desk makes you more likely to think of new ideas. People in the study who worked in a messy room came up with more new ideas and answers than people who worked in a clean room.

4. Making mistakes

You should be able to learn from your mistakes and move on after they happen. The ups and downs will not only help you grow, but they will also make you happy and more satisfied at work. Why is it helpful to be hard on yourself all the time? You have to accept that the process of getting better at your job is just that—a process. You will do well if you can see the changes that come with making mistakes.

Your Employees Are Your Competitive Advantage

Compared to organizations that view people as a means to a goal, companies that cherish their employees grow far faster. Make your staff feel heard. The ROI on investing in their well-being is always high. Use reliable tools like ThriveSparrow to poll employees periodically to learn how they feel. All these activities make employees feel valued, which boosts engagement and retention.