Does your manager focus only on your weaknesses and never talks about your strengths? You are not alone. According to Gallup, only one out of 3 employees would say they have the freedom to do what they excel at every day. That’s because many managers tend to focus more on fixing their employees’ mistakes than promoting a strengths-based culture.
Gallup further suggests that learning programs focused on fixing weaknesses are fundamentally flawed since they seek to make employees who they are not. There is, therefore, a fundamental need for organizations to look at themselves in the mirror to see if they are doing things right.
4 Reasons to Run Away If Your Manager Focuses on Weaknesses
Everybody loves to be appreciated for what they excel or are good at. If your manager only focuses on your weaknesses rather than what you are good at, it will lead to friction and demotivation over time. The following are some reasons why you shouldn’t try fixing people.
1. Fixing People doesn’t Work
Gallup found that 22% of employees with managers who focus on their weaknesses are actively disengaged compared to only one percent for employees with managers who concentrate on strengths. When you focus on weaknesses, you create friction since nobody appreciates when their flaws are put under the spotlight.
This leads to demotivation and consequently, decreased productivity. Some employees could also choose to find employment elsewhere where their strengths are appreciated more.
2. Focusing on Weaknesses Ignores Strengths
A 2016 study found that people tend to see weaknesses as more malleable than strength. That would explain why many managers are still trying to fix mistakes. However, focusing on weaknesses blinds a manager from seeing the potential in their employees. They, therefore, miss out on opportunities to better what their workers are already good at.
Strengths can be improved too, and developing them creates extraordinary room for growth. Managers should identify their employees’ natural talents and invest their time and energy in turning them into super strengths.
3. Everybody Has Weaknesses
No human being is perfect, and yet everyone is. Unfortunately, some managers still hold on to the unrealistic goal of perfecting their employees by eliminating their weaknesses. It would be better to accept people for whom they are instead of wasting time on fixing weaknesses.
Faults will always be present; the challenge is to look beyond them. Instead of looking at the bad, which not only wastes time but also creates friction, managers should concentrate on making what their workers are already good at better.
4. Focussing On Weaknesses Says “I Know Better”
Developing trust and accountability in the workplace is essential. Instead of fixing weaknesses, leaders need to “care” for their people by trusting their employees’ ability to deliver on expectations.
In another research, Gallup found that managers contribute to 70% of the variance in their worker’s engagement levels. Fixing people takes an “I know better” attitude. Instead of imposing their standards, managers should lend their ear to their employees and work with them to see where learning is needed.
“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.”
― Tom Rath
6 Advantages of Strengths-based Leadership
Regardless of what you believe in, the truth is that focusing on the weaknesses of your employees will not get you far. The following are advantages of strength-based leadership and management.
1. Faster Growth in Learning new Skills and Jobs
Improving your employee’s strengths makes them a lot more of what they truly are. When you focus your energy on improving people’s natural abilities, you will realize that they can achieve even what you thought they couldn’t.
It is, therefore, important to assign roles based on employees’ strengths. A strength-based approach will enable employees to acquire new skills and learn new jobs faster. They are also more likely to be successful in their roles.
2. Better Productivity
When your employees get a chance to concentrate on their strengths every day, you get a better return on time and effort invested. According to Gallup’s data, employees who work on areas of strengths are 7.8% more productive.
Additionally, concentrating on your team’s strengths daily increases your employees’ productivity levels by 12.5%. Maximizing strengths in the workplace also positively impacts the health of your workforce resulting in fewer sick days. This will improve the company’s bottom line in the process.
3. Better Attitude and Mental Health.
When you play to your employees’ strengths, work becomes fun instead of a source of stress. If your workers spend more hours in a day using their strengths, they are less likely to experience mental health issues such as anger, sadness, worry, anxiety, and stress.
36% of those who use their strengths for 10 hours everyday experience stress. According to a study, this number rises to 52% for people who use their strengths only three hours a day. If you choose a strengths-based approach, your workers will experience an increase in positive emotions. They are likely to be happier and to have a positive attitude about work.
4. Higher Engagement in the Organisation
As a manager, you have the responsibility to provide opportunities for employees to use their strengths. By placing employees in roles where they can be at their best every day, you can empower them to get even better at their strengths. When your workers are more engaged, it leads to higher productivity.
According to Gallup, managers who encourage their employees to use their talents are six times more likely to foster engagement. Moreover, 61% of employees whose managers adopt a strength-based approach in the workplace are engaged. This is double the average number of workers who are engaged in the entire United States (30%).
5. Building Strengths is Faster and Easier than Improving Weaknesses
Building strengths is straightforward and faster than trying to fix weaknesses. There will be less friction because your employees are more likely to get on board, and it requires less time and effort because they are already good at what they do; you’re only making them better.
On the other hand, your workers will be more reluctant to make significant changes, especially if the change swims against the tide of their natural talents. Therefore, that approach can be a long and hard journey that ends up being frustrating and unrewarding.
6. People Stay in Companies Longer When the Focus is on Strengths
A strengths-based approach makes people feel valued. As a result, they will be more engaged, productive, and less likely to leave the organization. However, if you choose to focus on fixing weaknesses, your people will be less satisfied and productive and will have a higher chance of leaving the company for another job that puts their talents to better use.
The importance of a strength-based approach in the workplace cannot be overstated. As a leader or manager, you should take the steps required to create a culture that focuses on developing strengths rather than eliminating flaws.
Begin by identifying the strengths of your employees, and help them align their talents to what their roles demand.
All employees have areas of strengths (and weaknesses). You should always seek to develop these strengths by assigning roles based on abilities, incorporating strengths in performance evaluations and career conversations, and encouraging workers to set goals based on what they excel at. Focusing on strengths creates good opportunities for success for both the employee and the organization’s bottom line.