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Lead with your strengths

By:
  • Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM
- Posted: April 1, 2018
Conventional performance management typically consists of a manager identifying an area of improvement for an employee and then crafting a plan to help achieve that goal. One problem with this approach is that it assumes that everyone reaches success in the same way. In reality, there are many personalities, behaviors and paths that can lead to success. So, how can you bring out that success in the diverse group of people you have in your company? Focus on the individual strengths of each person.

Strengths-based approach
Focusing on strengths begins with asking, “What is right with our people?” Too often, managers assume that when it comes to employee performance certain behaviors are required instead of focusing on how one’s natural behaviors can be leveraged to lead to an outcome. 

A meta study of 1.2 million employees in 49,000 businesses shows that teams can increase customer engagement by up to 7%, increase profit by up to 29% and reduce turnover by up to 72 percentage points. At the same time, these companies also reduced safety incidents by up to 59%. So, what’s the secret to supercharging performance? They focused on strengths.

People intuitively know what they do well and what brings them satisfaction. Having a conversation with employees about what they excel at, how they process information and how they prefer to relate to others is a great place to start. Arranging tasks according to these preferences will allow employees the opportunity to leverage their strengths.

Team approach
Applying strengths as a team is where the real fun starts. Just as a football team would surely fail by sending 11 quarterbacks on the field, a business team is doomed to fail without appreciating and exercising the diversity of behaviors and skills that each person brings. By taking a team approach to strengths, teams learn to defer to each other at the critical moments when they are best positioned to achieve excellence. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have the full trust and support of the team that is uniquely and naturally talented to execute.

In fact, people who work within their strength zones:
  • Look forward to going to work
  • Have more positive than negative interactions with coworkers
  • Treat customers better
  • Tell their friends they work for a great company
  • Achieve more on a daily basis
  • Have more positive, creative and innovative moments
There is no denying that achieving this level of engagement is worthwhile to the employer and employee. On average, people who use their strengths are not only six times more engaged in their jobs, but they are also three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life. 

Perfect strategy
Creating an opportunity for people to become more engaged, productive and happy at work should be a top priority for every business. The success that businesses have found using a strengths-based approach is obtainable for every team if they apply the same strategy. Learning to work together to accomplish goals by understanding the ways that each person is inclined to think, act and feel is the only reasonable approach to business. Apply it correctly and start enjoying the benefits of being part of a high-performing team. 
Solutions
The StrengthsFinder assessment (www.GallupStrengthsCenter.com) is a simple and affordable way to have a common language to discuss strengths. Participants take a 45-minute assessment and learn their Signature Themes, which can be leveraged into strengths to achieve success. Many coaches are available to help interpret and apply the results.

Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and leadership consultant. Contact him at Neal@NealGlatt.com.
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