By Melissa J. Anderson

Recent studies show that employee engagement is way down, and that many employees are looking for new opportunities – or they intend to, as soon as the economy picks up steam. But don’t worry! A number of studies have also revealed what these employees are looking for, and what can motivate them to stick around – good management. This means a manager with high EQ, who understands personal motivations, and who is looking out for their employees best interests and development.

Working now to improve your relationships with your employees, as well as providing tailored learning and development opportunities for them, can help stem future job losses – as well as build a more productive and motivated team today.

According to Bob Kreisberg, Founder, President, and CEO of OPUS Productivity, the best way to strengthen workplace relationships is to delve into your employees’ personality profile. According to Kreisberg, “If you understand the strengths of that person, you will understand what motivates them.” Here’s how.

1. Know Thyself. The first step, explained Kreisberg, is to understand your own strengths. He said, “Knowing your strengths allows you to position yourself spending the majority of your time doing the things you enjoy – and it also allows you to recognize weaknesses and take action with adaptive behavior.” Get yourself situated before tackling your employees’ strengths and weaknesses.

Kreisberg’s firm, which has been providing behavioral consulting for 21 years, deploys a 10 minute personality quiz designed to reveal your personality profile – showing your strengths and weaknesses in seven key factors: Dominance, Extroversion, Pace/Patience, Conformity, Energy Level, Energy Style, and Fact/Feeling orientation. After the online assessment, the company provides a one-on-one consulting session to discuss the results, point out strengths, and identify challenges.

“Everybody has a strength,” he said. “There isn’t anybody who isn’t good at something.”

2. Know Their Strengths and Motivations. Next, you should get a good feel for what drives your team members. Kreisberg said, “You need to understand that strengths and motivations are tied.”

He continued, “We’ve all heard of the golden rule – I like to think about the platinum rule. Treat other people the way they want to be treated.”

Kreisberg also pointed out that an effective team needs to have a mixture of personality traits, so what motivates one individual won’t necessarily motivate the next – and that’s a good thing. He explained, “When we can recognize that our team is made up of a group of different behavioral strengths, when everybody looks different, we have a far stronger team.”

3. Recognize Challenges. But not everyone is good at everything – and managers should identify their team members’ weaknesses, as well. He explained, “If you are the proverbial square peg in the round hole, you’re going to get calluses on your corners. It is painful.”

Knowing when one of your team members has become that square peg can help head off negative behaviors and attitudes at work, and allow you to work with them to overcome these weaknesses. “When you understand an employee’s motivators and demotivators, you can have a positive discussion about what actions can be taken.”

4. Devise Workaround Strategies. Kreisberg said, “Understanding these weaknesses can help identify challenges and plan adaptive behavior.”

He continued, “Sometimes just a modest shift can make a big difference in an employee’s relationship with their manager. A one-on-one conversation about how to best provide them with guidance and coaching can make a world of difference. That type of communication can make a huge difference with getting things better aligned.”

“When you can anticipate challenges and coach in advance, you can head problems off at the pass.”

5. Plot Out Future Steps. Finally, once you understand you employees’ strengths, you can help manage their career growth within your own set of employment needs and motivations.

“It’s human nature for us to spend a lot more time lamenting about what we don’t do well. That’s why it’s important to know our strengths,” Kreisberg explained. “If we can tangibly identify those strengths, we can help employees plan and work their career to take better advantage of what they naturally do best.”

Since providing opportunities for advancement has been identified as key staff retention drivers, spending time with employees and focusing on their career development can help you retain your top performing individuals. Knowing their strengths and motivations can enable you to provide meaningful coaching and advice, not only hanging onto star performers, but also motivating them to reach even higher.

Bob Kreisberg, President and CEO of OPUS Productivity, has invited readers of Evolved Employer to email him at to receive a free copy of the company’s “Handy Guide to Personality Profiles,” which details how different major personality types work together.