I recently met with an MD of a business that was struggling to fulfil its potential. It was clear to me that the people who worked there were very talented but the results they were achieving were less than impressive and the motivational mood music of the workplace was quite downbeat.
I suggested that a strengths-based approach to work would energise his team and enable them to perform at their peak, in both good times and during challenging times.
“This isn’t a new idea,” I said. “When David fought Goliath, he didn’t do it hand-to-hand. He’d have lost if he had. Instead, he stood a distance away, and threw stones at him – a strength and skill he’d been mastering for years.”
“Your focus should be on helping people to discover their strengths and find ways of using those strengths every day as they go about solving problems and creating products and services for your clients,” I continued.
“Pah! Prove it to me that this type of approach will work in my business,” he fired back.
“OK. It’s still the norm to identify people’s weaknesses before we focus on their strengths,” I began. “To find what’s wrong, what’s missing, what’s less than perfect, before we notice and appreciate what’s good, what’s abundant, what’s exceptional about them. This seems true for society in general, and especially in education and in the workplace.”
“Hmm, I remember vividly at school always being given a hard time by my teachers and parents for the questions I got wrong. There weren’t so may comments on what I got right and how to build on that,” the MD replied with no small measure of bitterness.
“And honestly, has that attitude changed since you left education and entered the world of work?” I asked.
“No, if anything it’s got worse”, he lamented.
“Well, the good news is that a strengths-based approach in the workplace has been used by some of the leading companies around the world for almost two decades now. It’s rapidly become one of the fastest growing trends in human resources and a recent Forbes article listed strengths-based leadership as one of the fastest growing trends driving business success in 2017 and beyond,” I explained.
“Really?” The MD said. He was now intrigued. “Tell me more.”
I then explained that the reason for this rise in interest is the compelling evidence linking strengths-based approaches to a range of positive work and life outcomes, including:
- Performance improvement
- Well-being and stress management
- Creative problem-solving and improved relationships
- Career success
I pointed out that more recent evidence shows:
- 73% improvement in employee engagement when employees are encouraged to play to their strengths
- Employee performance is, on average, 36% higher when line managers focus their appraisals on employees’ strengths and talents
- Customer retention is 44% higher in companies where people are allowed to do what they do best every day
“Where are you getting all of these statistics from? They’re just claims and numbers that you’re plucking out of thin air,” exclaimed the MD.
“On the contrary. They are straight out of a rigorous White Paper, Strengthening UK Workplaces – Achieve Performance Excellence using a Strengths-based Approach, published by The Strength Partnership in Autumn of 2016. I’ll send you a PDF copy of the paper, if you like,” I replied.
“OK. Thanks,” said the MD. “You do that. What else is in this White Paper?”
I described that Strengths Partnership’s own research into the value and application of strengths-based development initiatives reveals:
- 73% improvement in overall work performance and results
- 79% improvement in confidence in strengths and how they could best contribute at work
- 66% removal or reduction in limiting weaknesses by capitalising on strengths.
I then showed him what some companies say about using a strengths-based approach:
“Team morale is much improved, resulting in very significant improvement in long-term global employee survey scores.”
(Energy provider, BOC)
“Making strengths-focus an underpinning principle of the management development core curriculum increased levels of engagement, enthusiasm and performance.”
(Legal & General)
“Adopting a strengths-based approach has provided a lens to what we’re good at, as individuals, as teams, as a business. It’s helped us to recognise and promote PhotoBox at our best.”
“Helping people find and optimise their strengths more of the time at work sets a powerful chain reaction,” I concluded and then shared with him the picture below.
“Right. I get it now,” said the MD excitedly. “You’ve convinced me. Let’s get started. I want to help my team and leaders become world class at using their strengths.”
I may have convinced that MD. But have I convinced you?
Your opportunity to chat…
Want to talk and find out more about strengths at work, how it can be defined, measured and developed? If so then it’s time we met for a chat over a coffee. Just reply to this email and we’ll schedule a date.
P.S. – Fancy a PDF copy of the White Paper Strengthening UK Workplaces – Achieve Performance Excellence using a Strengths-based Approach?
Then get in touch TODAY by email or call my office on 020 8798 3433!
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