Successful businesses give employees the power to play to their strengths, rather than forcing specific behaviors and skill sets on them. Each person in the workforce has something to contribute, and those talents need to be utilized and valued.

Throughout my career as a recruiter, entrepreneur, business owner and talent evangelist, I have learned what to do and what not to do when it comes to leveraging employee strengths and building powerful teams.

It starts with implementing hiring strategies that clearly outline strengths, behaviors and values of a potential employee — and determining how those ultimately align with your business mission, visions and values.

The HR industry is abuzz about the need to find critical players in a talent-deprived climate. Already too much corporate time, effort and money are being spent on trying to locate virtually impossible to find talent. When business efforts focus on establishing organizational development initiatives, such as building and developing high performance teams, innovation, collaboration and employee engagement dramatically improves

Building a well-rounded group of people who collaboratively bring something much bigger and more impactful to the business is far more beneficial than having employees operate in silos with no common purpose or vision.

In my early days a recruiter, we operated as if we were on our own individual islands. When outside offers to make more money were presented, top producers would jump and typically bring their clients with them. This churn and burn environment amazed me. How could businesses sustain themselves when good people left and took their clients, too?

When I was ready to build my own business, I knew I had to focus on employee optimization, engagement and retention. My goal was to create a company that continually produces revenues and profits because of the systems and infrastructure in place, not because of a few good people who could walk away at any time. This is how KeenAlignment came to be.

I looked at the process we would use to identify candidates, what key strengths were needed to attract and bring in the right talent, what skills it takes to effectively assess and evaluate candidates with the clients’ perspective in mind, what behaviors it took to uncover the real issues, what type of person was great at continually following up, and managing all the hundreds of details we encountered every day.

When you are clear on employees’ strengths up front, you begin to assemble meaningful and productive teams. The thought process goes something like this: “How can I provide a platform for the team to own their collaborative power, and continually take themselves to the next level?”

In business, there is no room for control freaks, or a single command boss on a team. Employees need to feel safe to speak their mind and not withhold constructive criticism and feedback. A sense of urgency needs to be instilled, role alignment and performance expectations need to be mutually agreed on, and creative and collaborative planning and problem solving needs to be the norm.

It is essential each person on the team understand how their role contributes to the momentum to keep things on track and moving forward. And those unwilling to operate at this level ought to be reconsidered for a high performance team. If all team members are aware of expectations up front, and they are slotted in roles that play to their power principles, the team concept works brilliantly.

The best part of all the changes I made in my business and in how I approach leadership is that I now have more free time to pursue what is important to me, above and beyond generating income for my company. The team concept has provided me with freedom, power and full self-expression, as well as allowing me to expand my influence in my immediate community. Perhaps next I will take on the world!

Here’s a video on employee engagement that will provide some tips on how to get the most of your people: