Every time a new year begins, millions of people resolve to improve their lives in some way. We analyze our flaws and weaknesses. How can we can look better, make more money, sleep more, stress less. We're programed to continually be improving, especially in areas we lack.
In leadership, we can fall victim to the same mindset. We scrutinize when a project goes wrong, and forget to celebrate when they go right. We may give a pat on the back for reaching a target, but will call endless meetings if we miss it. Focusing on what went wrong always takes precedent over what went right, and we transfer this approach to nearly every aspect of business. Staff included.
Employee reviews are a critical time for the business. Unfortunately, most people are doing it wrong. They treat these meetings as a chance to list how an employee can improve, emphasizing their weaknesses and shortcomings.
However, this approach isn't improving your staff's performance. In fact, it's likely doing just the opposite. So instead of asking yourself what this person has done wrong, shift your focus and look at what they've done right. This is strengths-based development, and it will change your team for the better.
A recent study by Gallup found that businesses saw nearly a 30-percent increase in profits when they focused on strengths-based development. In addition, turnover rates decreased, while employee and customer engagement increased.
If your child isn't good at baseball but excels in hockey, would you make him quit hockey so he can try and get better at a sport that doesn't come naturally him? Not likely. You would sign him up for training camps and look for the best teams so he can continue to improve at something he does well.
Leadership is about getting the best out of your people. So let's create a culture where people actually enjoy what they do every day. This will only making them perform better for the organization.
Here are a few key points to consider in order to help workers succeed and thrive in a strength-based culture:
Make it a core value.
If you're managing a business with multiple locations and hundreds of employees, leveraging your staff's strongest skill sets through strength-based development needs to incorporated into your core values first and foremost. Make it apart of your mission statement. This will create a guide for your entire company to fall back on.
You and your employee may have a very different perspective on what they're good at. Ensure that you're both aligned on what their key strengths are, and how to develop them further. If they're great at sales but terrible at organization, don't put them in charge of planning the next annual sales meeting when they ask to take on the project.
Don't let it become an excuse.
There are always aspects of the job that no one likes. Organizing expense reports or coordinating schedules is not my idea of fun, but I know sometimes it's just part of the gig. Be careful not to let staff use strengths-based development as an excuse to get out of those day-to-day tasks that they may not enjoy.
Keep at it.
Employees need to continue to work at their craft. No matter how skilled or experienced they are at design, sales or public speaking, there are always new things to learn. Don't allow your staff to become complacent.
Create a plan that focuses on developing their biggest strengths. This can include post-secondary training or partnering them with a mentor. Set goals and targets so they continue to feel challenged.
Spread the knowledge.
When you adopt a strengths-based approach to development, you're simultaneously creating a strong set of leaders who can share their expertise with those up-and-coming in the business. Offer your more senior employees to mentor entry-level staff or oversee a team who are showing promising skills in the same strength.