In order to develop your team members, you need to understand their talents so you can create assignments focused on strengths and abilities. It's your job to know their weaknesses, and to help them eliminate them. The best way to optimize capabilities and talents-as well as their blind spots-is to talk about them. Ask the right questions and you'll help your team member figure out what it takes for them to become star performers.
There are lots of great questions to ask during a conversation about strengths and blind spots. Start with:
Which of your skills do you most enjoy using?
How do you see yourself adding value to our team? What types of assignments would most appeal to you?
How would you describe your communication style?
What skills do you think you need to improve?
What are you looking for from a manager?
Explain to your reports that you prefer to stay positive and create positive relationships. To do that, you need a solid understanding of each team player. That means asking questions about them and encouraging them to ask questions about you, too. It's as important for them to understand your strengths as it is for you to understand theirs.
A great way to get a full and honest picture is to seek 360-degree feedback. I get feedback from coaching client's managers, peers and employees, then create a report that summarizes the feedback. Strengths, weaknesses and blind spots become transparent and can lead to growth-building conversations.
If you use 360 survey feedback, you'll find that both parties, at the end of the process, will have built a list of perceived strengths, areas for development, action items that show what employees need to do more of (for example, listening, engaging, being more flexible), and what they need to do less of (for example, intolerance, unfocused listening, negative criticism).
With this information, you can start conversations that identify what employees do well. These conversations will help employees become self-aware. When that happens, you, as their manager, are able to truly coach, guiding your team through the steps necessary to become the star performers they want to be.