Focusing on strengths proves most effective

Via All Things Workplace, I just discovered David Zingers blog about employee engagement, where in his latest entry, he points out the different results of focusing on strengths or on weaknesses of employees.

He explains that the Gallup Management Journal had found the following conclusions in their research of employee engagement:

If your manager primarily ignores you your chances of being actively disengaged are 40%.

If your manager focuses on your weaknesses your chances of being actively disengaged are 22%.

If you manager focuses on your strengths your chances of being actively disengaged are only 1%.

Obviously, pointing out weaknesses of employees and working together in resolving them isn't the best choice. For someone that always wants to help people develop, this felt a bit weird to myself first. Shouldn't I help my directs overcome their weak sides?

But after some thinking, it occured to me that focusing on their strengths instead is actually a very reasonable approach. Employees aren't clay sculptures who I'm to shape, rounding all edges to a perfect state. I'm a leader, not a sculptor. And I don't like to be looked at and treated with the perspective of a sculptor, either. (Hm, why am I thinking of my spouse at this point?)

People want to do what they can do best and to be recognized for that. Since it is one of my core beliefs that it's my foremost duty as a leader to make sure that my directs can work their magic as effective as possible, it's actually quite natural to focus on their strengths and to arrange their work in a way that they can employ them most effectively. A good thought to start the next week with.