The power of strength skills
‘What are your strengths?’ It’s a classic job interview question, yet it often leaves people feeling awkward or overly modest. Worse, they rely on formulaic answers to create a positive impression. Yet research* shows that employees who use their strengths at work, outperform those who don’t. So why are we still stuck in a weakness-based culture where we try to fix the things we’re not good at, rather than promoting our natural talents?
Box: People who are given the chance to do what they excel at, are 6 times more likely to be engaged on a job*.
Knowing your strengths
When you think, feel and behave naturally, you are using skills that come easily. If you’ve ever got so lost in a task that you lost track of time, chances are you were using one of your strengths. You probably felt happier and more energised. Employees who use their strengths are 8% more productive and three times as likely to say they’ve a higher quality of life. Which means you’re more likely to advance your career – and less likely to move jobs. But do you have any idea what your strengths are?
Understanding your strengths can be harder than you think. We often overestimate ourselves in one area and underestimate ourselves in others. Strength assessments are extremely useful in analysing an employee’s core character strengths. There are plenty to choose from, as you can see below. The most popular is probably Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, which has already helped 9 million people worldwide discover their talents. Whichever assessment you use, they can be great starting points for building a strengths-based workplace.
Building a strength-based organisation
Changing a company’s culture into one that focuses on employees’ talents, doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re an employer or manager, here’s are 5 simple steps to get you started on creating a happier, efficient and more strength-based workforce.
1. Ask individuals what their strengths are – and whether they feel they are using them in their current position. They may already have an idea, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the unknown talent in your office!
2. Assess their overall work – see if you can spot any areas they excel in. Then ask yourself whether that opportunity to excel emerged out of a routine function or whether they had to ‘sneak’ it in. It’s a great way of discovering whether they are really suited for their roles.
3. Reshape roles if needed – if an employees’ performance is low, they may be struggling because of a lack of opportunities to demonstrate what they’re good at. Consider adjusting their role to suit them better. If this isn’t possible, talk to them about a more appropriate position – you’ll both be happier.
4. Focus on team work – use team meetings to promote your new strength-based approach. And assign strength-based projects that allow co-workers to use their talents. This helps them understand each other’s strengths, how their skills can complement other team members and helps achieve common team goals.
5. Create a community of strength champions – include your strength-based approach into every task, performance, conversations and review. Appoint strength advocates to act as internal experts to help everyone in the company use his or her talents. It will help with initial launch efforts and sustain those efforts through the entire company’s strengths journey.
Focusing on workplace strengths is a much more positive experience than the alternative. After all, who wants to be constantly reminded of what they’re not good at? Far better to examine an individual’s natural talents and strengths, drive towards them and ultimately advance as a result. With time and effort, knowing about workplace strengths can help not just your career and outlook on life but your whole organisation.