Dealing with common myths about strengths development

Applying a strengths-based approach to development is neither a management nor an HR fad. The strengths-based organisation selects on strengths and trains in skills and knowledge; it recognises strengths so as to deploy them effectively, combining them in innovate and robust strategies to develop and deliver results.

Conventions, myths, assumptions and stereotypes abound wherever people interact but a focus on strengths provides an effective way to improve performance and engagement.

People know their strengths

Writer and management guru Peter Drucker observed “most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong and yet, a person can perform only from strength.”

Clarity and confidence around strengths and weaknesses actually takes some analysis, reflection and a level of self-awareness, and for a variety of reasons we may not always be clear-sighted about our own strengths and may take for granted aspects of our strengths and mastery.

Strengths-development Even those who do understand their strengths may have reservations about discussing them, perhaps through fear of appearing complacent or arrogant. In contrast, most people, especially those with more work experience, tend to be familiar with their weaknesses.

Using Strengthscope® we help employees learn how to combine their strengths, skills and abilities to achieve work and career goals whilst mitigating weaknesses and other risks to performance; this enables them to challenge limiting beliefs and to achieve peak performance. The key lies in time spent reflecting on strengths and deliberate development time focussed on how best to put them to use in pursuing aspirations both inside and outside of work.

With the strengths analysis in place it’s possible to design focused action plans that will stretch an individuals’ strengths to enable them achieve work and career goals. Managers with practical coaching skills and techniques can empower employees to optimise their strengths and skills.

Playing to strengths is the easy option

There is plenty of evidence to support the value of identifying and playing to your strengths but it’s important to recognise that, in context, some strengths may be optional whilst others are essential. You can’t always choose, and you can’t play it safe, growth depends on stretch and challenge, we learn a lot about ourselves when we deal with new situations and adjust to new contexts.

Knowing your strengths isn’t a one-stop shop, once you’ve assessed strengths using Strengthscope® you can move on to the next stage – building a strategy for personal development. Optimum performance is achieved when you operate outside your comfort zone and test yourself. To optimise one’s strengths and move from good to great takes work and application. It’s useful to consider ways in which to use signature strengths in addressing weaker areas.

Think of the performers and athletes who hone their strengths with constant practice to achieve peak performance. Carol Dweck suggests that if we are willing to learn and persist in the face of challenge we can grow strengths that may not be ‘natural’ talents.

You can ignore weaknesses

It’s natural to focus on existing and natural strengths more than we do on our weaknesses, but that doesn’t negate a need to manage those weaknesses. You can’t overlook weaknesses and it is short-sighted to assume that playing to strengths will be enough to offset them. We can work to address these areas but it would be unrealistic to expect to transform a weakness to a signature strength.

Leveraging core strengths to address areas of concern is the best option, Strengthscope® helps the user examine creative ways to use strengths in dealing with weaker areas. Armed with self-awareness about strengths we are better able to discuss our weaker area and other risks/blockers to performance. Strengths assessment can also help in building partnerships with others who have strengths in areas where we are weaker and this has the added benefit of enabling a strong team culture within the organisation.

Acknowledge weakness and invest in self-improvement. Relying solely on established strengths is too limiting and calls to mind ‘Maslow’s hammer’ – over-reliance on a familiar tool “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, (Maslow, 1996). We work in a volatile and uncertain environment and need to ensure we offer skills that up to date, relevant and in demand.

Management guru Marcus Buckingham claims that organisations that focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than simply improving their weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency while allowing for maximum personal growth and success. A win-win situation!

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees.

Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions.

He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy.

Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty.

Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching.

Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Homepage, Strengths

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Select author

Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.

Archives