How to identify (and play to) your workplace strengths

Knowing what your strengths are and how to leverage them at work can make a huge difference to your career. According to a study by Gallup, if you’re utilising your strengths in your job, you’re six times more likely to be engaged with your work. This naturally has a positive effect on your productivity and performance, as well as your happiness.

However, many of us don’t know how to start when it comes to realising what our strong points are. To help you identify and make the most of your workplace strengths, career coach Nicole Grainger-Marsh shares her tips.

  • Reflect on which tasks you’re successful with, and that give you joy. We don’t always enjoy the tasks we do well, but there’s usually at least satisfaction resulting from a job well done. However, beyond simply a sense of achievement, you might find that your triumph in these tasks is actually due to you enjoying them deep down and trying harder at them as a result.

    Grainger-Marsh recommends, “Go one step further and think about the things that you are proudest of at work, that you consider to be your greatest achievements. It’s these successes that will provide you with clues as to your strengths, as often it’s our strengths that enable us to achieve.”
  • Ask your coworkers what they find you most helpful with. Once you’ve looked inward, it can be helpful to get feedback from your peers at work that you trust. Those you work with closely can provide very helpful perspectives and insights into your work and where you excel.

    “Ask your coworkers what they see as your top-three strengths. To understand your strengths in action, you could even ask them to provide real-life examples of you utilising your strengths.” For example, say you were able to diffuse a difficult situation in a meeting with a client. This would indicate that you have strengths in negotiation, conflict resolution and team-building.
  • Consider the compliments you regularly receive at work. As well as overtly asking your peers for their feedback, it can also be helpful to reflect on the things they have already said to you over the time you have been working together.

    Grainger-Marsh recommends, “Reflect on the compliments that you receive regularly from others. It could be comments such as, ‘You are always so good at…’, or, ‘We can always count on you to…’ These recurring compliments are a good indicator that they are, in fact, your strengths.”
  • Get feedback from your manager. Don’t wait for your annual performance review to find out how you’re doing. While they’re often feared, these meetings provide the perfect opportunity for feedback that can really help you. Find out where you’re performing well and discuss how you might be able to leverage your strengths in your role.

    But also don’t just wait for meetings – look for regular achievements, Grainger-Marsh says. “When it comes to recognising your own strengths, it really is about paying attention and spotting the patterns. What are you achieving consistently? What are you recognised for regularly? And what do you frequently get joy from doing?” It’s all about reflection. 
  • Make the most of your strengths. “Once you’ve recognised your strengths, it’s important to consider how they can be leveraged. Take a cue from past achievements; if your strengths enabled you to be successful in those situations, how can you replicate this?” Grainger-Marsh says.

    “Beyond this, think about your day-to-day duties and consider how your strengths could help you complete them more efficiently, or get better results.” Creating an action plan is one option, “detailing how and when you’re going to leverage your strengths. This ensures it becomes a habit, and over time, leveraging your strengths will become second nature.”