If you had a choice between working to fix what was wrong or striving to build success, which would you choose?
In this week's blog, we explain why you should take your focus off fixing what’s wrong and shift it to strategically leveraging strength in the workplace.
Traditional thinking (often picked up at school) has us concentrating on failure. We struggle to improve what we don’t do well and expect to get better. We work hard on our weaknesses and tend to improve just a little. We fail to identify our strengths and as a result don’t use them to their full capacity. However, research suggests the opposite. Left alone, our strengths remain mediocre. In fact, studies have shown that when we focus on our strengths, and use them to manage our weaknesses, we experience exponential gains.
Imagine Mary, a dedicated customer service representative. Mary has an infectious positivity and thrives on the challenge of meeting new people. She communicates easily, loves to tell stories and quickly figures out her client’s needs. Recently, Mary was put in charge of customer complaints and her productivity has declined. Mary doesn’t like speaking to angry customers and becomes visibly shaken when dealing with people in distress. Mary sits next to Jane, who was recently tasked with new client acquisition.
Jane is quiet, reserved and equally dedicated. When talking to customers, Jane asks probing questions, anticipates obstacles and likes to stay focused on the task at hand. She enjoys working with many moving parts and organises systems for maximum results. However, she seems to find every problem and is often perceived as overly critical.
Neither person is happy in her new role, they’re less motivated and take frequent sick leave.
What would you do if you were their manager?
It might be tempting to offer Mary professional development to help her become confident and assertive. Maybe you’ll counsel Jane and help her become flexible and positive. Yet, would that address the problem? Are you spending good money on staff development and recruitment and still achieving minimal results? Mary is already assertive and can win people over - it’s just that she finds excessive negativity draining. Similarly, Jane is flexible. She sees what needs changing and will happily change it – if she is given the chance.
As Mary and Jane’s manager, could you find a better way to build upon their past dedication? How would you develop their talents so that business objectives were met?
Focus on the right skills
As you know, change isn’t easy. Organisational change can be even harder, especially when it requires positioning staff in new roles. Do you wonder why? Perhaps you thought you have the wrong people or your people had the wrong skills or maybe it was something else.
Did you ever think the problem may be that you’re so focused on what’s going wrong, you don’t notice what’s going right?
Let’s return to Mary and Jane. Imagine helping them see where they’re achieving success. Help them use these behavioural patterns to improve customer service objectives. For example, you could encourage Mary and Jane to work collaboratively or even, switch roles. Remember, Jane thrives in situations where she can analyse a problem and offer a solution. She is likely to succeed in the very situations Mary finds challenging. In contrast, Mary likes to chat and build relationships with customers. She’s willing to share a story and is likely to excel in situations where clients waiver and want reassurance before making a commitment.
Research backing the facts
Although this is a fictional situation, it is based on real data. Leading American researcher Gallup found that teams who focus on their strengths have 12.5 % greater productivity. People who focus on their strengths are SIX times more likely to be engaged in their role. The benefit for your business - increased engagement leads to more productivity and higher profitability. In fact, Gallup found that higher engagement lead to 22% higher profitability and 21% higher productivity.
For many of us, shifting beyond worrying about weakness to focusing on strengths requires a paradigm shift. However it is here that small changes in thinking can lead to big changes in behaviour.
Find out what your staff are good at, encourage their development and position them so they can accomplish their best. They will be happier because they are being recognised for what they can do. This will encourage them to do more. In short, recognise your staff’s talents and they will be more engaged, more productive and your business can achieve greater success.
Fast-track business success in 2016
You can outsource business coaching to fast-track profit and productivity and improve a host of other areas in your business using Bartercard – contact the author of this blog for more information.
Zenger, J, Developing Strengths or Weaknesses – Overcoming the Lure of the Wrong Choice http://leadership.zengerfolkman.com/acton/attachment/10129/f-0498/1/-/-/-/-/White%20Paper%3A%20Developing%20Strengths%20or%20Weaknesses.pdf
State of the Global Workplace – Gallup http://www.gallup.com/services/178517/state-global-workplace.aspx
Well being in the Workplace and its Relation to Business Outcomes – A Review of Gallup Studies
Who is Nicole and what is Choose Your Chapter
Nicole Feledy is a Gallup certified strengths coach and experienced communication and stress management facilitator. For more than fifteen years, Nicole has been helping people understand their behavioural patterns for success. As a trainer and coach she helps people communicate more effectively, build better relationships and manage stress resourcefully. Nicole is co-owner of Choose Your Chapter (CYC) - a Gold Coast based training company that offers personal and professional development to small to medium enterprises. Their workshops, seminars and coaching programs are purposefully designed to meet the unique needs of business owners. They help businesses choose the best position for their talent, increase productivity and improve engagement. Contact Nicole at CYC today to arrange a complimentary 'Strengthen Your Team' presentation.
Choose Your Chapter
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