As a team leader, I believe one of the most important privileges and duties you have is to find out what people’s strengths are to cultivate a well–rounded, healthy, and highly productive team.
To assist, the following is an exercise combining work from Marcus Buckingham, Rory Vaden, and Bruce Eckfeldt.
Provide an 8.5 x 11 clean piece of paper to each member of your team. Ask each to fold it into four equal rectangles. Each of the four rectangles will be titled Love, Loathe, Long, and Lust. For one week, have each of them fill out each box as the insight comes to them based on the instruction below.
- The first box is Love. These are things that when they are doing them time flies by. They look forward to with great anticipation. They are likely very good at them but that is not a requirement.
- The next box is Loathe. These are things that when they are doing them for five minutes, it feels like an hour. They usually put them off, become bored, and often come up with reasons to take breaks.
- The next box is Long. These are things they have done in the past at this company or previously that they want to do again.
- The last box is Lust. These are things they are not doing but have a strong desire to.
When completed, meet with each team member and discuss each box. Work with them to increase the time spent on the love, long, or lust lists that align with company and team goals. Next, help them to decrease the time spent doing things they loathe. Please note that there will be many things that do not make the list since the intensity of the emotion felt does not rise to the level of these four.
Loathe list reduction method
For loathe, I recommend that you look at all of these things across your team and see if you can move some of the vital items to other team members, eventual new team members, or to third parties. I like the following process from Rory Vaden for other Loathe category suggestions:
- Automate – Is there new technology that can automate any of these things?
- Delegate – Are there other team members on the team or elsewhere in the organization you can teach to do this item? Please note that it should not be something the new person loathes as you are just moving the problem elsewhere.
- Eliminate – Is this still necessary? If no, cut or trim it.
- Procrastinate – Stop doing it for a while. If no one notices, eliminate it. If it is missed and vital, refer to steps 1 and 2 above or live with it and revisit later.
Try this for one week and see what happens. If it is helpful, do this again several times/year.
You will likely never get everyone on the team doing what they love doing all the time. Research says that is okay. If someone does what they love ~10 hours or more/week (assumes a 40-hour work week), they are much more likely to be highly engaged and fulfilled at work. It may have something to do with knowing one will be doing something fun that helps one to get through the less than thrilling work.
Bonus article! – Here is a great and relatively short (these are rare so take advantage!) HBR article on job crafting.
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