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.
The Old Doctrine
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 :-
- the introverts who were pushed to do public speaking courses.
- the outgoing creatives forced to work on their administration.
- those great at detailed work being given strategy assignments, and the list went on.
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.
Focus on Strengths!
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.
Steven Norman is an accomplished frontline sales and business leader dedicated to helping B2B sales leaders upgrade their knowledge and skills, build next-generation sales teams and turbo-boost their careers. Over a 25 year career Steven has been responsible for more than US$4 billion of sales with major tech companies such as Dell, NEC and Targus across the Asia Pacific. Recent years of intense B2B sales research and analysis led to the foundation of Growth Acumen, a modern sales and leadership development advisory service. In 2019 Steven released his New Book “Future Proof Sales Strategy.” Seven steps to equip sales leaders with the tools to rise above the complex challenges facing the B2B sales industry.