Three steps you can take to unlock your team's full potential

Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard,” meditates Warren Bennis, a great mind pioneering what is known today as contemporary leadership. One of the roles of a true leader is discovering the unknown within organizations. Being able to have a clear overview of the organization enables leaders to see where there are resources within the company that could be put to use. These resources can range from hidden strengths of employees to transferable expertise or experience, as well as informal networks. The benefits of discovering and utilizing your organization’s hidden resources are many, depending on whose shoes you are in.

If you are a leader:

  • Since these sources are already present – but just need a little digging up – they are mostly cost-free and may help prevent seeking out external resources such as contractors or new hires.

  • They can help increase engagement levels within your company. Employees and managers appreciate the time and resources a company puts into them to unlock their full potential.

  • You can recognize and organize each individual’s key strengths in order to achieve the best business results and create great team dynamics.

In today’s age, where personal and professional growth are the main currency in employee satisfaction, discovering hidden internal resources within your business is helpful to everyone, regardless of where they stay.

Below are three useful methods to discover the hidden potential of your business and put it to good use:

Help employees discover their purpose in life

William James, philosopher and the founder of modern psychology, delivered a great speech at the American Philosophical Association at Columbia University in 1906. The speech, which is still valid and valuable, focuses on the importance of achieving one’s true potential:

On usual occasions we make a practice of stopping an occupation as soon as we meet the first effective layer (so to call it) of fatigue. We have then walked, played, or worked “enough,” so we desist. That amount of fatigue is an efficacious obstruction on this side of which our usual life is cast. But if an unusual necessity forces us to press onward a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain critical point, when gradually or suddenly it passes away, and we are fresher than before. We have evidently tapped a level of new energy, masked until then by the fatigue-obstacle usually obeyed.
— William James

The type of fatigue James talks about is an obstacle in the way of getting in touch with the treasure trove of creativity and skill embedded in each individual. Within your organization, one way to hush the sounds of frustration and fatigue goes is through helping each employee find their purpose at work.

Purpose, albeit a loaded word, is the fuel that can leave you with a sense of satisfaction in every aspect of your life and every little project. This is what Jeff Goins, the author of The Art of Work, argues in his book. If people at your organization feel they are contributing to their purpose in life with their work, then they will inevitable feel happier and more engaged. This is why leaders should coach and support their employees in finding their purpose.

Some questions leaders can ask their employees’ to fulfil this quest are:

  • What would you love to do even if you did not get paid for it?

  • What are you really good at according to other people?

  • What do you still want to experience in your career or which job you would take if you could start all over again?

Asking these questions during 1-on-1 conversations and checking in on how each employee is doing in terms of workplace morale can help leaders devise more targeted paths for their teams in order to drive up engagement and happiness levels.

Leaders can use the real-time feedback feature of Impraise to maintain a continuous conversation with their employees. The data saved from these conversations on the platform can then help managers keep each employee’s career track targeted.

Identify areas of strength

Many of us draw a blank when this common interview question is asked: “What are your strengths?” Knowing your strengths is as elusive as finding your life’s purpose, but it is central to enabling growth depending on your superpowers. If you are a leader, strengths are vital to your team’s efficiency when assigning tasks and building a team where every individual fits each other like pieces of a puzzle.

A psychology professor at George Mason University and the author of Curious?, Todd Kashdan, says that working on one’s strengths is the best way to grow personally and professionally.

Here are some steps offered by Kashdan himself for pinpointing you and your employees’ strengths:

  • Look for signs of excitement: According to Kashdan, we show visible signs of excitement when we are using our strengths. Our pupils dilate, our chest widens and we speak in a fluid and confident manner. Observe your employees for these signs to help identify their strengths. 

  • Do not conform to the status quo, be experimental at work: Discovering your team’s key strength points goes through encouraging curiosity. Employees should be made aware of what everyone in their team does on a daily basis and be encouraged to take on different roles beyond confined and stereotypical role definitions. You can implement daily stand-up meetings at your organization when everyone can quickly describe what is on their agenda for that day. This way, the whole team is aware of one another’s work.

  • Notice your differences: Kashdan argues that when your employees are truly using their strengths, they tend to stand out. During these moments, they will offer a unique point of view to the issue at hand. For leaders, it is necessary to capture these moments.

You can use the real-time feedback feature of Impraise in order to keep a record of these moments and provide valuable insight to your employees. To give an example, when you notice a moment of strength during a meeting, you can give feedback to your employee immediately to praise them. This way, your feedback is used to fuel performance instead of only capturing the past.

Discover informal networks and use them to your advantage

Informal networks are relationships employees form with each other across roles and teams to achieve tasks more efficiently. Although sometimes helpful in getting the job done, the informal nature of these networks often result in the useful knowledge transfer to elude formal networks. Being able to identify and map these networks can help leaders use this potent resource for greater business results.

In most organizations, there are three types of informal networks that give valuable clues on how informal networks operate in your company:

  • The advice network identifies the people at your company to whom other employees turn to for insight on solving certain difficulties.

  • The trust network identifies the employees that trust each other enough to share delicate information in times of crisis.

  • The communication network identifies employees who talk to each other on their work life on daily basis.

These networks can help companies maximize their employees' skills and potential to solve problems faster. With Impraise, you can clearly identify the advice network by showing who gives feedback to whom and the trust network by showing who asks for feedback from whom. You can also turn the data to your business’ advantage and make the best out of informal networks within your organization.

If your employees do not feel like they are contributing to their life’s purpose or growth at work, voluntary leaves are inevitable. For this reason, helping your employees have more satisfying career paths and truly paying attention to their personal and professional development ultimately lead to overall business success.

For more insights on how to develop and engage your managers download our free white paper.