I believe that every employee wants to do their best work. And the goal of organizations should be to position employees where they can accomplish this. The question becomes . . .what’s the best approach?
According to Marcus Buckingham, it’s to focus on your strengths.
I know, that sounds incredibly simple. But, finding your strengths can be a thought-provoking journey. That’s why TMBC has released a new book, Standout 2.0 and a tool to help individuals find their strengths. The company is being recognized during this year’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition as one of the Awesome New Startups for HR, and Marcus will be delivering a keynote session. I asked if he would give us a sneak peek into his session and he very graciously said yes.
Marcus, I was introduced to your work with First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths, which focuses on the idea that its strengths (not weaknesses) that are the key to outstanding performance. Can you give us a little background on how you came to this discovery?
[Marcus] After spending 20 years at Gallup researching employee engagement and interviewing thousands of workers in countries around the world, I began to see a trend with top performing managers or ‘team leaders’ as we prefer to call them. The best team leaders focused on their employees’ strengths and talents, instead of their weaknesses.
They also found ways to measure, count and reward positive outcomes. It’s not rocket science, yet it’s revolutionary because most performance management tools focus on improving weaknesses. Ultimately, people will produce the best results by making the most of their unique personal strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses or perceived deficiencies.
I totally agree that often, in the business world, the focus is on fixing what’s wrong versus leveraging what’s right. As a leader, how do we get people to shift their mindset toward strengths?
[Marcus] Show them the data. We recently introduced the world’s first standardized Global Engagement Index and the numbers don’t lie. Although China and the U.S. ranked highest in engaged employees, just 19 percent of workers in both countries feel fully engaged.
The Index also reveals that in all 13 countries surveyed, despite significant cultural differences, the single biggest driver of fully engaged employees is the statement: “I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.” Although corporate methods, behaviors, and values vary by country—and by industry—the most powerful human need at work remains the same: help me discover my strengths and help me use them a lot.
When companies really get this and have the tools to measure, count and reward positive outcomes, we believe they will become less obsessed about fixing employee weaknesses — and especially when they begin to experience the positive business outcomes of shifting the focus to strengths.
[Tweet “Discover your greatest strengths and use them as much as you can every day.”]
Your new book, StandOut 2.0, concentrates on team development. Why is finding our strengths so important in a team environment?
[Marcus] Once an employee discovers their greatest strengths and uses their strengths as much as they can, the team begins to benefit and when the entire team knows what strengths every team member has, roles can be maximized for a higher performing team. High performing companies are essentially made up of very high performing teams.
StandOut 2.0 includes a tool to identify strengths. Tell us what we can expect to learn and how we can apply that information in our professional lives.
[Marcus] The new StandOut strengths assessment measures nine strength roles and reveals your top two. These two strength roles are where you will make your greatest contribution and where you will have a natural advantage over everyone else. In addition to the assessment, a robust twenty-page report full of actions customized to your results is also provided so you can find your edge and really excel at work.
My thanks to Marcus for sharing his knowledge with us. As organizations continue to become less hierarchical and more autonomous, it will be essential for employees to understand their strengths. It will help them stand out individually, and it will enhance their contributions to the team and the organization. I look forward to learning more during the HR Tech Conference.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby0