Bypassing this conventional wisdom, using just one strategy, can increase employee engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction and put your business on a path to success. So what is this conventional wisdom which has been letting us down for decades as leaders?
It is the common practice of focusing on employee weaknesses in an attempt to fix what’s wrong with our staff. Not only is this a very negative way of establishing a good relationship, it has also been found to have a negative impact on staff morale, performance and the success of your business.
When you’re running a small business and resources are scarce, attracting and retaining the right staff and being able to tap into their best is particularly critical. Your leadership holds the key to unlocking the best in the people you lead and how they impact your business success.
While conventional wisdom has had us focusing on fixing employee weaknesses, there is a more effective path to achieving individual, team and business success. Highly effective leaders identify and focus on what is naturally right in their employees and invest time and resources on the development and utilisation of their employee strengths.
Here are three reasons to lead with strengths in order to set your employees and business up for greater success:
1. Attracting and retaining the best employees
The top employee retention driver is job-interest alignment. Those employees who regularly have a chance to do what they do best each day are happier and more engaged in their work and more likely to feel confident and in control. It is also important to have the right conversations with employees. Research suggests that:
- There is a 50% higher likelihood of high retention rates in teams where people get to use their strengths regularly. Such teams and work environments are more likely to be in demand by prospective employees.
- If a manager primarily focuses on an employee’s weaknesses, the likelihood that employee will be actively disengaged is 22%. Turnover rates were 14.9% lower among employees who received strengths feedback than those who did not.
So ensure performance reviews are balanced and that enough focus is given on what’s strong and possible. But don’t just save strengths-based conversations for the annual performance reviews. Find ways to spot and acknowledge the use of employee’s strengths regularly.
This is not to say that difficult conversations about bad behaviour or areas needing improvement should be avoided. These are sometimes necessary and hot issues need to be addressed promptly. But rather than harping on weaknesses, managers who find and focus on what’s naturally right with people are more likely to get positive results and a more engaged, empowered and confident workforce. (Gallup Research, Buckingham & Clifton, 2001)
2. Boosting productivity with just one conversation
The types of conversations managers have with their employees can make or break employee performance. Studies have shown that:
- 76% of managers are having the wrong conversations with their staff. (Rath, 2008)
- When a manager focuses on giving feedback related to strengths at performance reviews, performance can increase by up to 36%. Weaknesses reviews cause performance to decline by up to 27%. (Corporate Leadership Council)
- Even just learning what their strengths are has been found to make employees up to 7.8% more productive. This just involves helping an employee identify what their strengths are and having a conversation about it.
- Managers who primarily focus on weaknesses increase the likelihood of the employee becoming actively disengaged by 22%. (Gallup Research)
- Teams that focus on strengths each day have 12.5% greater productivity and teams that receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability. (Gallup Research)
3. Creating happier customers through the contagion effect
- Employees who are able to use their strengths each day are more likely to feel happier and more respected.
- They are more likely to learn new things and to have more energy to achieve their goals and to enjoy their workweek.
- Through the contagion effect, happy employees are 44% more likely to earn high levels of customer satisfaction. (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001 & Rath, 2008)
So don’t be like the other 76% of managers who have been succumbing to the conventional wisdom of trying to fix employee weaknesses only to find that it’s not effective. This also works when applied as your own personal leadership development strategy. Start focusing on what’s naturally right and strong with both you and your employees. Invest in uncovering and developing your team’s greatest talents and ensure that strengths conversations are a part of your leadership and business success strategy.
Lead yourself and your people to better performance by discovering your team’s natural talents and learning how to apply more of these in your work. Get in touch to organise a complimentary talent strategy discussion around your business needs and to discover how quickly and easily you can implement this strategy. Email me here.
Download this free poster to discover what else the world’s best organisations do differently: 5 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged, Happy and Productive