Does Your Team Have the Right Stuff?

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO and Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Photo Credit: Emily Wilson Photography

When you hired the members of your team, you no doubt checked their references, verified their experience, and perhaps even tested them on their design and office software skills. But what about the other important skills that don’t often show up on a job description? I’m talking about skills like functioning well as part of a team, organizing their work and meeting deadlines, acquiring new knowledge and skills, getting along with others, and managing difficult or stressful conversations?

Those are just some of the so-called “soft skills” that often are not part of any formal training and that employees have to develop somehow on their own. You might assume that someone who has performed well in their job for some time must have acquired these skills somewhere along the line. However, as any manager knows, an employee can be terrific at performing the tasks required of them but lack the social or personal-control skills needed to deal with other people. That could lead to trouble down the line, but at the very least it is holding that person back from advancing and doing their best.

For your own ability to manage your team as well as for their welfare, I recommend you assess your team members to ensure they have the right skills to succeed at their jobs and their careers. There are a variety of assessment tools available online, and most are fairly low-cost. Here are some I have found useful:

Clifton StrengthsFinder — As the name suggests, this tool, developed by Donald O. Clifton, a psychologist, educator and co-author of the best-selling book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, assesses an individual’s core strengths across a spectrum of 34 factors. The idea is that individuals succeed by focusing on their strengths, not by trying to correct their weaknesses. The basic assessment identifies the individual’s Top 5 strengths. Knowing where your team members’ strengths lie can help you delegate more effectively.

Kolbe Indexes — The Kolbe Corporation offers several tools that assess an individual’s instinctive preferences for how they go about doing their work and solving problems. The findings help them, and you, better understand how they can be most productive by following their natural M.O. (modus operandi).

DISC — This tool focuses on interpersonal behaviors. It helps raise awareness about one’s own behaviors and preferences, how to recognize different behaviors and preferences in other people, and how to adapt one’s behaviors to get along better in social situations. This knowledge can help improve communication, reduce conflict, strengthen relationships, and work more effectively with others.

• Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) — This tool assesses one’s innate behavioral preferences based on two pairs of dichotomies — Extrovert or Introvert, and Perception or Judgment — resulting in 16 different dominant personality types. The MBTI is not a predictor of how someone will behave, but rather helps to illuminate differences among team members in regards to how they are inclined to reach decisions (quickly or deliberately), how they perform in social situations (outspoken or introspective), how they evaluate mistakes (on principle or with compassion), and such. With this knowledge, team members can have a greater appreciation of their differences and also how they can complement each others’ skills to get better results.

These assessment tools are not tests, are not meant to identify flaws, and do not render judgment as to whether one’s behaviors and preferences are “better” than another’s. The purpose is to help you and your team identify their strengths, their tendencies, their possible behavioral biases, and how to manage their behavior more effectively in different situations. Since relationships are the backbone of any business, you, they and your firm will all benefit from developing these vital skills.

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