Improve Team Retention (and more) with Strengths-Based Coaching

By Jamie Davis, CVPM

If you have ever been part of the interview process, you have likely heard the question – “What are your strengths?” which is often followed by “What are your weaknesses?” Using this information for our selection process is common. However, the use of these questions in our team development is not near as common and this is a big, missed opportunity.

As a manager or team leader, one of your primary goals is to develop and maintain a high-performing team. This often leads us to managing the weaknesses and shortcomings of our team instead of what our team does well. One way to achieve a high-functioning team is through strengths-based coaching.

The "Global Strengths Movement" started over 60 years ago and was born from asking the question "What would happen if we studied what was RIGHT with people versus what was wrong with people?" (CliftonStrengths, 2023). When we look at the variety of experience levels we are navigating on our teams, I cannot think of a better question to ask.

Strengths-based coaching focuses on identifying and building upon the unique strengths of each team member. Instead of focusing on weaknesses and areas for improvement, this approach emphasizes leveraging each team member's talents and capabilities to achieve success.

Here are some key benefits of using strengths-based coaching to develop your team:

  1. Increased motivation and engagement: When team members are encouraged to use their strengths, they feel more confident and engaged in their work. They are more likely to be motivated to succeed and take ownership of their work.
  2. Improved performance: By focusing on strengths, team members can become more proficient in their areas of expertise, which can lead to improved performance and productivity.
  3. Higher job satisfaction: When team members feel valued for their strengths, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and feel a sense of fulfillment in their work.
  4. Better collaboration: When team members understand each other's strengths and how they complement each other, they are better able to work together and achieve common goals.

Studies show that career development is a highly desired job benefit and that importance nearly doubled in 2022 (SHRM, 2023). The lack of this benefit is also one of the top reasons why team members leave for another opportunity (Indeed Editorial Team, 2023).

Here are some practical steps you can take to implement strengths-based coaching with your team:

  1. Identify individual strengths: Start by identifying the unique strengths of each team member. This can be done through assessments or by simply asking team members to reflect on their strengths.
  2. Set goals based on strengths: Once you have identified each team member's strengths, work with them to set goals that are aligned with those strengths. For example, if a team member is particularly skilled at problem-solving, set a goal for them to lead a project that requires a high level of analytical thinking.
  3. Provide opportunities for growth: Provide opportunities for team members to grow and develop their strengths. This could be through training, mentoring, or job shadowing.
  4. Give regular feedback: Regular feedback is crucial to helping team members grow and develop. When giving feedback, focus on strengths and how team members can continue to build upon them.
  5. Recognize and reward strengths: Finally, be sure to recognize and reward team members for their strengths. This could be as simple as acknowledging their contributions in a team meeting or giving them a bonus for exceptional performance.

Take a moment to consider what limitations you have around advancement. If there are little to no opportunities for your team members to move up to a higher, more challenging level, strengths-based coaching could be the answer. This style of coaching allows team members to grow within their role and be a higher contributor to the team. It also will help you more accurately select those team members that are best suited for a new role versus using seniority as a deciding factor.

In summary, strengths-based coaching is an effective way to develop a high-performing team. By focusing on individual strengths and providing opportunities for growth, team members are more motivated, engaged, and productive. With regular feedback and recognition, team members feel valued and supported in their work, leading to better collaboration, improved team retention, and overall practice success.

About the Author

Jamie has worked in the veterinary industry since high school and enjoyed over two decades of practice management before joining the VGP team as a practice coach. A self-proclaimed life-long learner, she is always looking to expand her knowledge and bring value to our members.

Gallup (n.d.). The History of CliftonStrengths.
SHRM (n.d.). 2022 Employee Benefits Survey.
Indeed Editorial Team (2023, April 14). 16 Reasons Why Employees Choose To Leave Their Jobs. Indeed.