You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Even the exquisite, highly prized orchid is a weed when it is growing in a corn field. Weeds are flowers growing in the wrong place. How many companies unknowingly place employees in the wrong role and expect them to excel and win for the company? It is a recipe for
burnout and low productivity.
In a report by American Society of Training and Development, United States companies spend $50 billion training employees. How much do companies invest trying to minimize employee weaknesses? A better return on your training investment is maximizing employee strengths. Improve knowledge and skill
that enhances the natural talents of your employees.
The Gallup Organization asked 1.7 million employees in their total database if they had the "opportunity to do what I do best" every day. Only 20% of employees of the large companies surveyed felt they were using their strengths every day.
In First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman describe two faulty assumption about people that most organizations make:
1. Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything.
2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness
Begin with a correct belief about people and their capacities, and everything that flows from that -- hiring, performance measurements, training, and developing your team --will be correct.
In Now, Discover Your Strengths Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton offer two assumptions that guide the world's best managers:
1. Each person's talents are enduring and unique
2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strengths
Buckingham and Clifton describe a strength as "consistent near perfect performance in an activity." If you find yourself capable of an activity but it drains you even though you do it well, it is not a strength. The acid test of strength is the intrinsic satisfaction or joy you find in doing the activity. What makes your heart sing puts another's feet to sleep.
To build a strength-based organization, Buckingham and Clifton suggest a systematic four step process:
1. Make smart hiring choices. Invest the required time and money before you hire anyone to find the right person for the job. Not only will it save you time, money and aggravation, it will make you money in the long run. If you make a mistake, correct quickly.
2. Measure the right outcomes. Focus performance on producing business results, satisfying customers and create good work environments instead of following procedures, competencies, and policies. Be mindful that you do not insist on a stylistic mold that inhibits unique talents.
3. Train and build on strengths. Spend your time and money educating her about her strengths and creatively find ways to build on these strengths. Tom Smith, trainer for Sea Biscuit, understood the horse. Smith used unorthodox training methods to develop an undersized, knobby-kneed and ordinary looking horse into a champion thoroughbred race horse.
4. Provide career development in areas of strength. Up the corporate ladder may promote someone out of his or her area of strength. Give prestige, respect and financial reward to anyone who has achieved world-class performance regardless of where the role is in the hierarchy. There are no "red headed step children" in a strength-based organization because everyone matters and everyone contributes their unique brilliance.
Are you and/or your team operating at 20% capacity because you are trying to make silk purses? Imagine the possibilities if you shifted your attention to educating and training strengths? Imagine doubling or tripling your capacity
to live your best life and provide an environment for others to do the same?