To improve performance, focus on strengths

  1. You are swimming upstream.  Every person and every company has strengths and weaknesses.  We simply cannot be best at everything.  Trying to improve a weakness sometimes just isn’t feasible or cost-effective.  If you have a product that doesn’t sell well, perhaps it is just not appealing to your marketplace.  Find out if it is the product, or something else.  If you have an employee who is terrific at most of the job but never seems able to perform a particular task, maybe the job process could be modified to better fit the person you have doing it.
  2. You over-invest time relative to return. Sometimes the return for your investment in improvements in areas of weakness just isn’t there.  Are there easier and quicker solutions?  Are you rewarding employees for the right things?  Are your processes taking full advantage of technology that is available to you?  Are there out-dated expectations in the organization?  How important is the weak area to your overall strategy for the future?
  3. It takes energy from what is most important. Since there is a huge resource restriction called time, and only so much of it to go around, chances are this is not the best use of yours. When performance IS modified in a positive way in a few areas, will it drastically improve output or performance for the entire department or company?  Is it critical to your strategic direction?  If improving a weak area does not bring you closer to your strategic goals, what will? That is where you need to invest time.

Working from your strengths is a strategy for growth

So what to do? Experts like Marcus Buckingham in his book, Now, Discover Your Strengths and Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 suggest that great leaders put people in jobs where they can be successful. So find a better fit for the person or re-craft the job description to fit their strengths and re-assign what doesn’t fit.  Drop products that do not seem to work in your market.  Stop doing things that are not part of your core products and services in favor of strengthening those that are.  Examine processes to see if the weakness is something that your company and your people are suited to change, or if you should be out-sourcing them.  The benefits to focusing on strengths?

  1. Employees want to succeed; this teaches them to achieve, not focuses on their failures. Success breeds success.
  2. If there is a task or process no one does well and it is not critical to the competitive advantage of the company, outsource it. If it is mission critical, that implies a hiring process challenge, or a re-examination of your strategy.
  3. Focus on what matters. Lead rather than manage. Craft a plan for the future and motivate a high performance team to achieve it.

Focusing on the strengths in your organization means you are identifying your company’s GrowthDNA.  Are you working from your strengths?

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