How to inspire personal brilliance in your workforce

07 May 2015 -


It’s all lurking in us somewhere, but often hides from view. A management consultant offers some hints on how to bring brilliance out in the open

Zara Seager

Personal brilliance is something that every employee has inside them in one form or another – but finding it, coaxing it out and making it work consistently for the benefit of the team can present a real management challenge.

Every manager would no doubt have seen flashes of personal brilliance from an individual team member in cases where that staffer has given their all to a particular project, or shown unusual skill on specific tasks. However, such successes are often undercut with disappointment when that employee’s subsequent performance dips to a less-than-inspiring level.

While every individual has different strengths and skills, and employees are motivated in different ways, it is important to bear in mind that effective management is key to consistently getting the best out of people. One third of employees cite frustration with poor management as the factor that causes them the most stress at work – so how can that trap be avoided while creating management techniques that nurture talent and employee engagement?

These five tips will enable mangers to create environments where individual and team brilliance becomes the norm, rather than just an occasional phenomenon.

1. Become a good listener

Managers often believe they are listening, when in fact they are just waiting their turn to offer advice or pass on a relevant anecdote. Giving your full attention to what someone is telling you without interrupting or becoming distracted shows them respect and appreciation, as well as helping you discover what makes them tick.

2. Take an interest

Everyone needs to feel that they are valued and that others are interested in them. An employee is far more likely to care about a business if they believe the business cares about them. Taking an interest in someone, asking them questions and considering their answers are the simplest ways to show someone you value them –which will make them more engaged with the team and the business as a whole.

3. Look outside the workplace

Getting to know team members – and understanding what drives them – often requires effort both in and out of the workplace. Individuals may reveal more genuine sides of themselves outside the constraints of the office. That doesn’t necessarily mean investing in expensive team-building activities. Simply going out for lunch to celebrate key milestones or helping staff to arrange annual team events can help to break down barriers and, again, create more engagement.

4. Discover their motivation

What are your team members passionate about? Why did they choose their particular profession in the first place? Helping your employees to find out what it is that motivates them, and enabling them to tap into that as part of their daily routine, will make their work more meaningful – and that is likely to promote personal brilliance on an ongoing basis.

5. Provide constructive feedback

Schedule regular slots for providing open and constructive feedback to individual employees as well as the team as a whole. Make sure you highlight what they are doing well, as well as outlining areas where progress could be made. Allow employee input into plans for improvement, and enable them to learn from past errors while focusing on future success. To reach their full potential, employees need to feel they have the support of their managers and the business as a whole, and that they receive the same amount of attention as their colleagues.

Every employee has unique talents and strengths that the team can capitalise on, and drawing them out is the role of a good manager. By taking a genuine interest in team members, listening to them, understanding their motivation, and providing constructive feedback, managers can nurture personal brilliance that will contribute to the team’s success on a daily basis.

Zara Seager is head of consulting at management consultancy firm Strengths Partnership

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