This Gallup survey from a few years back is such striking evidence about the benefit of focusing on people’s strengths vs. weaknesses. For me this is the last nail in the coffin of the old performance appraisal with its focus on “development” areas.
It is hard to believe that management doctrine for a 20-30 year period almost exclusively focused on employee weaknesses. It was demoralising and unproductive. We all remember :-
We were all recommended to have mentors who were strong in the areas that we were weak, putting even more focus on our weaknesses.
It is hard to believe how totally dominant this thinking was and that it still exists in many workplaces to this day. We were trying to mould our people to fit some ideal corporate profile rather than adapting roles to get the most out of our teams.
It is now well accepted that we are far better off focusing on what we do best, instead of trying to offset our weaknesses. This quest to fill gaps where we don’t have natural capability is much less productive than developing our innate and natural talents. When we focus on our strengths we become much more engaged, confident and make greater contributions to our teams. Recent research contends that focusing on one or two strengths is the most effective strategy. The narrower our focus then the faster we can get to best practice or world class level in our chosen area. Imagine having a team of people with all different strengths at a world class level and having them all totally excited and engaged. Compare that to a team Increfocused on fixing their weaknesses and not really great at anything. Many of the most successful people in the world have glaring weaknesses but it doesn’t hold them back. The ranks of the super successful are filled with tech geeks, financial wizards, marketing gurus, big picture visionaries and focused operational executors. They are usually world class at one or two things and will surround themselves with world beaters in other areas so they can focus on what they do best.