Are Managers Working too hard to put a Square Peg in a Round Hole?
By Jolene Risch
My sons and I recently took a trip to Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. During our adventure, we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Now, I’ve seen lush forests and majestic mountains, witnessed brilliant colors and dazzling stars, but the unique beauty and distinct colors of the natural rock formations residing inside these parks was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. As I took in the extraordinary views, I wondered: What if an architect chiseled away at the glorious mountains until he had a brand new office building or housing development?
It would seem unnatural, right?
Then, I applied the same metaphor to talent acquisition and retention: Are managers trying to chisel away at the natural talents and traits of employees with the hope of getting greater productivity? Or, are they appreciating, utilizing, and supporting each employee’s unique talents for the good of the company?
All for One and One for All
Obviously it makes good business sense (and good people sense) to capitalize on each employee’s unique talents and strengths, yet it’s common for managers to do the opposite. In the quest to improve performance, managers tend to call out employee weaknesses, and then develop a plan to help overcome them. With this approach, managers end up with teams of people striving to be the same—and with mediocre results. By focusing on each person’s unique natural strengths, the results can be stellar.
Trillium Teams, a firm that specializes in team building, leadership, and coaching, offers this advice in a blog on its website: “The best managers do not try to change the style of others; they are aware that their people differ in how they approach problems and challenges, how they deal with others, how they handle change and pace in their work environment, and how they work with procedures set by the organization. The best managers recognize, capture and utilize the unique style each person brings to the team.”
As the firm explains in the same article, there are various tools managers can use to discover and support individual talents, such as assessments, workshops, and discussions.
And, don’t forget the impact of simply listening to employees to learn about their talents. Kimpton Hotels is one such company that incorporates the passions and strengths of individual employees for the greater good of the organization—and its customers.
Capitalizing on Strengths
There are tangible benefits to the company when managers bring out the best in employees. The article, “Managing Employees – Capitalize On Your Employees Talents,” outlines three major ones—retaining employees, creating a more productive work environment, and increasing job satisfaction. You might be interested to know that, according to the article, for more than 80 percent of those who leave a company, money isn’t the main factor. Not being fulfilled is.
According to data from global research firm Gallup, engagement improves dramatically when employees are encouraged to use their strengths. Here’s a direct and powerful quote from Gallup’s findings: “Gallup has found that building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses.”
Gallup reports that by helping employees identify and use what they’re good at—and creating an environment in which they can showcase their talents effectively—there’s a good chance you’ll see an impact on the bottom line.
By playing to the strengths of employees, organizations can improve the company culture, enhance the company brand, and save on costs that transcend hiring. Now that’s a thing of beauty.
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Risch Results is one of Dallas’ top executive search firms for executive management, manufacturing, and financial services talent. Learn more about how Risch Results can help with your talent needs at RischResults.com or 972.839.9447.