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Playbook

Identifying and Leveraging Employees’ Work Styles and Strengths

November 27, 2017

Employee strengths

In today’s workplace, most of us find ourselves doing things we love and at which we excel. We also do things that feel tedious and take significantly more time and effort. For managers, this spectrum raises questions about how best to leverage employees’ strengths and work styles.

Is “everyone doing everything” the most effective way to increase workplace productivity and the happiness quotient in your team or organization?

Research indicates that helping people to identify, understand, and consistently use their “hard-wired” skills can be a key to keeping them more motivated, engaged, and productive. It can also help keep them on point during a workday that is undoubtedly filled with a wide range of tasks.

Identifying employees’ work styles

The AMA DISC is an assessment that can help your employees identify their dominant work style and explain why they likely gravitate toward projects where they can shine and easily get “in the zone,” as opposed to those that are painful and cause them to drift and procrastinate.

Employees who take the AMA DISC assessment receive a report indicating a preference for one or a combination of these styles:

  • Directing: works with determination, takes initiative to get things organized, provides strong leadership when needed, proactively solves problems as they arise
  • Influencing: communicates openly and freely, shares solutions with enthusiasm and optimism, initiates contact and conversation with others, communicates in a convincing way
  • Supportive: treats people with respect and kindness, cooperates and helps make the team work, relates to others in a friendly and dependable manner, provides others with support and encouragement
  • Contemplative: carries out tasks with care and thoroughness, seeks out information to “get the facts,” displays self-control and conscientiousness, takes time to observe the situation

Improving employee engagement and workplace productivity

Once employees review their assessment results and are debriefed, managers should coach them to understand that no one style is better than another. Employees will see that:

  • Familiarity with their work style is just another lens for knowing themselves
  • Their style impacts the way they solve problems, make decisions, manage their time, interact with others on a team, and react to change

Employees’ awareness of their strengths and challenges is directly linked to productivity in the workplace. If used effectively, this awareness can help them to be more intentional about structuring their workday and maximizing their time and energy.

For the manager, information on employees’ work styles can help with the following:

  • Knowing another side of your direct reports and better understanding what makes them tick
  • Gaining additional insight into allocating resources within a team or work group
  • Coaching employees on strategies and coping mechanisms for working in an increasingly complex and cross-functional work environment

When possible, let an employee’s strengths guide the way you deploy his or her talent in your organization. Then use employee performance measurement tools to quantify positive outcomes for both your people and your company.

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Effective managers know how to motivate people and connect their work to a higher purpose. With this competency and other management skills, you can build a high-performance team.
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About The Author

Nicole Morgenstern is a learning solutions and alliance manager at American Management Association. Prior to joining AMA, she spent several years in international development and education with the Institute of International Education, International Organization for Migration, and Department of State.

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