Business Review on the Benefits of Developing Employees Strengths
Would it be more beneficial for a company to place their focus mainly on playing to their employees strengths or would it be best for them to help them make improvements on their weaknesses? In this modern day and age this has become particularly important, the workplace engagement is quite low and the expectations as to what is expected from workers, as far as what a great job actually entails is much higher.
For quite a long time now, there have been countless studies conducted on thousands upon thousands of work teams and million upon millions of managers, leaders and employees. What these studies have shown is that there is quite a large amount of potential in promoting what is innately good with individuals as opposed to trying to make what is wrong with them better.
For example, it is a known fact that the more time throughout the day in which an adult believes to be using their strengths, the higher the chances of them feeling well rested, having more than enough energy, learning something new and exciting, smiling and even laughing, being generally more happy and therefore being treated with a lot more respect.
On top of the information mentioned above, individuals who are able to use their strengths on a daily basis are, over three times more likely to feel as if their quality of life is excellent or above excellent, this means that they are at least six times more likely to be more engaged while at work.
Not only does placing the focus on the strengths of employees help to create workers that are more engaged as well as living a life that is greatly enriched, it is also very good business sense. A large study was completed on various companies who had implemented management practices that are based of of strengths, for example encouraging their employees to complete the Clifton Strengths assessment, placing employees in positions which allow them to do more of what they really are good at on a daily basis, incorporating developmental coaching which is based off of strengths etc.
This study which was performed by Gallup, focused on examining the effects that those types of interventions hand on the performance of a workgroup. In the study forty nine thousand four hundred and ninety five business unites with one point two million employees over twenty two organizations in seventy industries and forty five countries were included. Six outcomes were focused on, those were:
Engagement of Customers
Engagement of Employees
Workgroups that underwent a strengths intervention, on average greatly improved in every one of those measures, in comparison with control groups who received interventions that were not intensive or no intervention at all the improvement was quite significant. Performance increases at exactly or above the ranges that will be posted below were what ninety percent of the workgroups who had a strength intervention, regardless of the magnitude, implemented experienced. Even if ranked on the low end, the gains reported are quite impressive. The results were as follows:
Increases in Sales: 10%-19%
Increase in Profit: 14%-29%
Increase in Customer Agent: 3%-7%
Increase in Employees Who Were Engaged: 9%-15%
Decreases in Safety Incidents: 22%-59%
In organizations with a low turnover rate, a six to sixteen point decrease in turnover.
In organizations with a high turnover rate, a twenty six to seventy two decrease in turnover.
Now the question is, how can an organization be able to reach these highly impressive numbers? Studies, research and work that has been implemented with more than hundreds of organizations have led to the identification of seven of the best practices to implement if you want to optimize strengths initiatives. Companies who have set into play more than one of these practices saw results that ranked on the higher spectrum of the ranges mentioned above.
Here are the seven practices that should be implemented:
1. It All Begins With Leadership
There are times in which strengths interventions will be independently implemented by a few isolated departments, this created an impact which is limited. However, when these interventions are made a fundamental strategic priority by leaders, this is when real change will actually take place. For example, let’s look at profitability: Studies have shown that there is an increases in the potential for more elevated profits when top notch leaders really place focus on strengths not only in one department but throughout their company as a whole.
During the study, senior leaders at a company in North America who had just undergone a four way merger implemented a program on “Lead With Your Strengths”, the goal was to help every employee at every single level in the company really understand how to best use their strengths to properly handle this big change as well as to nurture a culture based on unity, one where there are shared operating strategies as well as common and mutual goals. After only a year, the levels of employee engagement within the company had improved by a whopping twenty six percent over the overall organization level data bas Gallup provided.
2. Managers Must Be Brought On Board
Using their managers is the best way in which employers can maximize their employees strengths. Studies show that seven out of every ten employees who know for a fact that their managers place focus on their individual strengths or their characteristics, which are positive, are more highly engaged.
If this statement is one that employees are not in agreeance with, the amount of employees that are engaged goes down to a mere one percent.
Being as managers are ultimately the ones who are responsible for their employees being developed based on their strengths, having the organization’s managers aligned to a strengths initiative is very important. This specific practice can have quite a profound impact on the level of performance amongst employees.
3. Awareness and Enthusiasm Must Be Generated Throughout the Entire Company
If strength concepts are in consistent communication to employees, they tend to use them quite a bit more. During the study, a financial service company of medium size decided to prominently display a list of each of their employees five strengths, this was placed in each employee’s cubicle or office, this meant that all the employees were able to consistently keep their and their co-workers natural talents in mind.
The business strategy, as far as the competitive strong points of their organization, the strengths of their company should also be communicated to employees. On top of this, praise should be consistently delivered throughout the entire organization, the ways in which that is done should express the ways in which teams and individuals within the organization have used their strengths to reach success. These types of messages really encourage everyone to get on board.
4. When Creating Project Teams, Always Be Mindful Of Individual Strengths
Not only is it important for leaders to find ways for every employee to be more self aware, they should also utilize tactics to guarantee that when teams are assembled, their unique, innate and individual talents are taken into consideration. Based on what comes most naturally to each and every member of the team is how responsibilities must be assigned. Let’s take strategically partnering a couple of employees up. individuals who can both contribute in their personal area of highest strength; this can make all the difference when it comes to overall goals being accomplished or even simple objectives being met.
5. Performance Reviews Should Focus On the Development and Recognition of the Strengths In Each Employee
Even if leaders and their managers are completely motivated to capitalizing on the strengths of each of their employees, this will be difficult or impossible to accomplish if the performance management philosophy of the company places focus on fixing any weaknesses their employees may have. A Performance management that is strengths based is appealing, straightforward and very decisive.
Performance reviews should be conducted by managers in a way that provides encouragement and really makes use of their employees talents, recognition as well as development that are aligned with their individual strengths should be offered as well. Clear performance expectations should also be provided by managers, this can properly help employees feel as if their manager not only knows them well, but really respects them. THe end result will be a great boost to individual performance.
6. A Network of Strengths Advocates and Experts Should Be Built
The personnel with the organization that plays a very crucial role in providing all employees with support in using their strengths to really reach their full potential is a internal strengths advocates and champions within the company. These advocates are the ones who really help drive the strengths movement, not only at the initial stage but in every single stage, they are the ones who further down the road will help to sustain the momentum.
When all’s said and done, the encouragement they consistently provide can send a company into a world class levels of performance. This was quite obviously observed within a U.K investment management company who with a network of internal experts responsible for helping employees to really understand how to more effectively use their individual strengths, rapidly expanded.
What was the end result? Regardless of the market conditions which were not only consistently changing but also highly competitive, these individual employees were able to adapt to environments which were constantly changing, what’s more, they were able to at the same time develop their individual skills.
7. The Organization’s Strengths Based Culture Must Be Tied To Its Larger Brand
The thing that will really go a long way for a company is a brand which reflects the strengths based culture within an organization. A brand which is strengths based will attract the perfect employees who are in search of someplace where they will be able to develop their individual strengths, these types of job seekers would fit perfectly with culture of the organization. A brand which centers around strengths is also quite appealing to potential customers, this can really make an organization stand out among the rest of the competition.
A large retail company which was really struggling to live up to exceptional customer service, which is what their brand promised, proceeded to train their employees on how to offer personalized advice and knowledge to their shoppers on subjects such as installations, purchases and even repairs.
On top of that, after being encouraged to know, understand and really use their strengths, employees performed an even better job of actually providing individualized service and connecting with customers. The locations which actually implemented this new found customer strategy in combination with a more strengths based focus expanded sixty six percent faster than locations that did not implement the use of individualized strengths in the initiative.
To be completely fair and honest, there is no way that is humanly possible for employees to completely override and avoid personal weaknesses. That is the reality of the situation, it is the way the real world honestly is. That being said, instead of wasting a lot of unnecessary time attempting to improve in areas where they more then likely will not succeed in, leaders and managers can form partnerships which are strategic, leaders and managers can form thoughtful processes in which employees can then override or work around individual weaknesses.
These studies proved that when energy and resources are used and focused on the improvement of areas that come easily and naturally to individuals within an organization, such as within themselves as leaders and managers and throughout the entire organization’s staff, the benefits which are reached are really impressive.
This is something that organizations, leaders, managers and employees who have incorporated and properly implemented strengths as a work strategy have come to realize, it is something that has not only brought about better individual performance from employees which in turn provides them with a higher quality of life but the business results have been highly positive and massively successful. This is where as an organization you have to ask yourselves if changing your approach may be exactly what your company needs.