If you want to increase your likelihood of building an engaged workforce it is far more empowering and effective to tap into and focus on an employee's strengths. According to studies by Gallup, employees whose managers focus on developing strengths are eight times more likely to be engaged than those whose managers focus on fixing weaknesses.
That's what much of the approach in coaching is about, bringing out the unique strengths and gifts in another person and assisting them in leveraging those innate strengths. I have found this is the most effective way to help an employee develop and apply their full potential. Of course this will ripple out into their performance, the results and the overall return on investment.
The benefits of strength-focused coaching
I have seen first-hand how both the employee and the organization benefit from a strengths-focused approach.
Strengths are the fuel to high level performance. Someone who is using their strengths can enter what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls flow. Flow is often called the “The Zone” and Csíkszentmihályi calls it completely focused motivation and immersion in what one is doing.
When you assist an employee in tapping into their strengths they will be more authentic, express excitement, demonstrate a willingness to learn, feel invigorated, be creative and pursue new goals. You’ll help them tap into intrinsic motivation, which has been shown to be more effective in improving performance than external rewards.
Other benefits to using a strengths-focused approach include:
- Improved ability to overcome challenges
- Improved performance, resulting in meeting business goals
- Improved productivity = increased profitability
- Enhanced level of happiness and fulfillment on the job
- Increased trust in self
How to find natural strengths
When assessing an employee or candidate for a position, it's important to identify their natural temperament as this has a direct correlation to their strengths and what comes easy for them.
When I was doing my training for coaching at the Adler International Learning, one of the areas we focused on was “positive psychology” (Peterson and Seligman), which is the study of how positive emotion, positive traits, and the study of positive institutions assist in identifying the strengths in an individual that come naturally. Peterson and Seligman identify six human virtues that point out good character:
These virtues are identified as positive strengths that can, in turn, be applied to a position and impact an individual's performance. As a manager, this is valuable insight into the employee and it's association to the position itself. One of the key strengths is temperance. To further understand an individual and their temperance, you can dive in deeper through the McQuaig Surveys.
Behavior assessments like The McQuaig System provide insights into a person’s temperament, which forms the core of their natural strengths and behaviors. One of the tools that we offer at McQuaig is the 'Do's and Don'ts' list that is included in one of the reports available along with the Self-Development report which provides in-depth outlines of the employee's strengths. A condensed version of this can be found in our Manager’s Coaching Cheat Sheet.I have found that using tools such as these in coaching employees makes the journey much easier for both the manager and the employee. I encourage you to start focusing on the top strengths in your employees and see what outcome unfolds.
Image courtesy of vectorolis at freedigitalphots.net
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