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Playing to Strengths vs. Focusing on Weaknesses

As Managers and Leaders, we are often taught that we are the “fixers”. Often we are allocated this mind-set from our superiors who ascertain business performance and procedures or members of our team have flaws and vices that require “fixing” in order for the business to move forward and become successful.

But if it isn’t broken why fix it? 

So often the focus is on the negative actions of our people or shortcomings in the procedures that we forget to look at the bigger picture – is it possible that we are so focused on the negative that our strengths have no chance of shining through?

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but as a Manager and Leader, I want to impact positive change, not negative change! Thankfully, many businesses today, including Connect Plus, have found that a focus on team members’ individual strengths yields much higher results and will ensure business success.

Sports teams are perfect examples of how many players working together can achieve much more than one player who is acting alone. For example, you may not be the best goal scorer, but you're great at moving the ball forward. You know that if you pass that ball to the person who can score, the team has a better chance of winning. Everyone on the team plays a different role, according to their strengths – and by helping and encouraging one another along the way, you can make some inspiring things happen.

In a sales environment example, you would put the strongest salesperson where they can actively engage with customers and maximise sales. Whilst another team member who has had less sales training but is fast at processing transactions could be responsible for the processing of sales. Not only is this focused on delivering a great customer experience, but it also keeps people in their comfort zone when under stress. There is always time on a quieter day where training can be allocated for the new team member to build confidence in a positive way.

By utilising a strengths-based model, team members are encouraged to develop and utilise their strengths and in turn are more engaged and productive than those required to constantly work on their weaknesses.

A common mistake that new Managers make when entering a business is to adopt the fixing mindset.  They make radical change from the perception that a business is “broken” (this seed is often planted during the recruitment process) without first taking the time to understand the business and its people and look at what is working and what is can be used as a platform for even greater success. The impact of change for change’s sake severely affects morale and productivity, and can quite easily undo the good work that has gone before.

It is a paradox of human psychology that while people remember criticism, they respond to praise. The former makes them defensive and therefore unlikely to change, while the latter produces confidence and the desire to perform better. Managers who build up their team strengths will ensure the business and their team reach their highest potential. This positive approach does not pretend to ignore or deny the problems that traditional feedback mechanisms identify. Rather, it offers a separate and unique feedback experience that counterbalances negative input. It allows managers to tap into strengths they may or may not be aware of and so contribute more to their organisations.

Through continual training and reinforcement of “desired behaviours,” you can turn almost any weakness into a strength.  You can also utilise team member’s strengths in a certain area to train others.

Catch your people doing something right and praise them rather than constantly looking at what they are doing wrongly.

We are passionate believers that positive praise and reinforcing the desired behaviour of your team will yield you much higher results than purely focusing on the negative.  Every day is a learning day, and coinciding training on the areas of opportunity will see your results soar!

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