Employee Development: Consider a Strengths-Based Approach

A big part of being a good leader is investing in employee development methods. Taking the time to help your employees develop into effective and engaged team members will support short- and long-term professional development and help your employees make great strides forward in their knowledge and skills. In turn, these star employees will significantly enhance the team’s culture and help your company successfully launch into new and better territories.

Here is a closer look at what it means to use a strengths-based model, some questions that will help you get there, and the results you can expect to see on the other end.

A Strengths-Based Approach Defined

Many leaders mistakenly look for what’s lacking in an employee’s performance. For example, maybe an individual’s sales aren’t as high as they could be, or perhaps someone becomes flustered when presenting in front of a group. Sure, you could spend a lot of time and money focusing on your employees’ weaknesses and training them in those areas, but that only leads to mediocre wins. So, what leads to big wins? Investing in each employee’s strengths.

A strengths-based approach allows employees to boost their productivity and performance by applying their strengths to their everyday tasks. You may wonder if doing this will leave gaps in your team’s capabilities. Since you should already be hiring team members who complement each other’s natural abilities, this strategy ensures that employee efforts are not wasted, but are instead collaborative and exponentially more valuable.

Questions to Ask Yourself As a Leader

Gallup research has shown that asking (and answering) some all-important questions can help leaders learn how to use a strengths-based approach to boost employee and company performance.

As a leader, you are probably already asking yourself questions like the following:

  • Do my employees understand the priorities in their work?
  • Do they have the resources they need to support their work?
  • Do they feel comfortable asking for help and giving opinions, both formally and informally?

These questions are a good start, but to be a true leader of employee development, you need to drive transformational change in your business by looking at employee development from a strategic perspective rather than viewing it simply as “training.”

To this end, you should also be asking yourself these questions:

  • Does my company have systems in place to study our best performers?
  • Once unique identifiers are found, can we integrate those attributes into our recruitment efforts as well as our career-progression and management-succession planning?
  • How can we ensure that the right people with the right talents are placed in the right roles?
  • Are we able to replicate excellent performance company-wide?
  • Are we providing opportunities for star performers to progress through the ranks?
  • Do we build, appreciate, and communicate excellence at every level?

Questions to Ask Those You Lead

Once those principles and processes are in place, shining a light on what your employees do best is the next step to implementing a strengths-based approach to development. You can certainly make your own assumptions based on observations and performance reviews. However, having a face-to-face conversation will open your eyes (and your employee’s eyes) to much more untapped potential that can be put to good use.

Ask the people you lead the following questions and make detailed notes you can refer to later:

  • What do you enjoy most in your day-to-day work activities?
  • What part of your role energizes you?
  • What have your greatest accomplishments been in the last six months?
  • Are you communicating with your managers about what you do best?
  • Have you gathered feedback about how to best apply your talents at work?
  • Is there a career path that you feel would build on what you do best?

If your employees are involved in work activities and tasks that they gravitate towards and naturally do well, you will notice that they have a positive attitude, are more willing to contribute, and are on the path to becoming star performers.

How a Strengths Intervention Improves Overall Performance

There are a number of advantages that can come from using a strengths-based approach. For employees, believing in and using their strengths grants rewards of confidence in their contributions, engagement in their tasks and processes, and enrichment in their working lives. Obviously, these rewards come with benefits to the company as well. You will begin to notice a sizeable decrease in safety incidents and employee turnover. At the same time, you can expect to see impressive gains in every one of the following areas:

  • Employee engagement
  • Sales
  • Innovation
  • Customer engagement
  • Profit

In the end, you will find that selecting and working with the right employees on the right strengths will be much more productive than simply training the wrong employees to do the wrong jobs. This will give your company an added edge as it pursues innovation and best practices.

If you’re interested in implementing a strengths-based approach to better develop your employees, contact CMOE for help!

About the Author

CMOE Team

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.