Nobody can be equally good at everything – individual performance is fuelled by our unique skills.

Optimising strengths in any workplace can be extremely beneficial, increasing employee engagement by up to 73%, which in turn inspires customer loyalty and boosts profits. Fostering a greater awareness of strengths is particularly valuable within the team environment, giving every business — from financial and advertising technology giants, to start-up businesses and the public relations (PR) agencies that support them — the means to maximise productivity, build trust, and enhance performance.

So what exactly are strengths and how can they be used to build strong, positive, high performing teams?

Strengths Partnership defines strengths as “positive traits that are reflected in people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours, helping individuals to maximise their potential and achieve optimal levels of performance.”

Strengths energise and motivate people, so employers must discover employee strengths and make them as productive as possible in relation to their own unique goals — and those of their clients when working in technology PR. This requires a challenging and engaging environment where individuals can benefit from training and mentoring to stretch their effectiveness in areas of particular strength, and deliver peak performance.

Employers need to understand the difference between positive stretch — where a work related challenge plays to an individual’s natural strengths — and negative stretch — where individuals are challenged in an area of personal weakness. While positive stretch energises employees, encouraging them to grow and truly fulfil their potential, negative stretch drains their energy and demotivates them.

Here are three ways strengths can be used to optimise team performance:

Building trust by sharing strengths

Being open and honest about individual strengths as well as areas of potential risk creates a culture of collaboration and trust. Team members know who they can rely on for specific strengths and who they need to support in other areas, improving communication and commitment, while creating a positive team culture that will improves performance across the company — whether it’s vast fintech organisation operating throughout the global market, or an early start-up hoping to increase its local ad tech presence.

Enhancing performance by blending skills

When managers understand their team’s strengths they can pair up colleagues with different strengths to support each other in working towards team goals. This doesn’t mean hand-holding, but does involve checking in with each other regularly and providing supportive in situations that don’t play to one individual’s core strengths.

Understanding the role of strengths

All teams have strengths, no matter how many people they include or what their purpose is. These may be executional strengths such as efficiency, results focus, and initiative, or other categories such as a talent for media relations, emotional strengths, or abilities that facilitate strategic consultation and thought leadership, but they are the qualities that energise the team and drive performance. Equally all teams have performance risks that require specific strategies to overcome them. Once teams understand their strengths and risks – as well as the role they play in performance – they become empowered to take control and drive business results.

Nobody can be equally good at everything and the very reason teams exist is to combine individual areas of natural strength to create an entity that is better than the sum of its parts. Identifying and optimising strengths is essential to build trust, enhance collaboration, and ensure your team is reaching peak performance.