Good Managers Focus on Strengths

Managers seeking ways to accelerate their team’s performance often focus on weaknesses needing improvement. Instead of using tactics like OKR goal setting and weekly 1-on-1s to give teams opportunities for developing strengths, they scrutinize performance. Marcus Buckingham, former head of strengths management practice for The Gallup Organization, says this is the wrong way to drive performance. We reviewed some of his ideas on using strengths-based management to achieve business objectives from a Wharton University article and summarized them here.

Identify Employees’ Strengths

Great managers view their team members as individuals with different strengths. They identify what employees are good at and put these strengths to use. This approach works for the manager, company, and team members: according to a study cited in the Wharton article, 59% of employees think they can achieve more success by building on strengths versus improving weaknesses.

Buckingham compares the approach to playing chess. If team members are game pieces, most managers play checkers and view all of them as having the same qualities. Great managers play chess instead and recognize each team member’s unique abilities. Then, they leverage these abilities and use them to their fullest advantage.

Use Clarity as Your Weapon

To motivate teams and drive results in an organization, Buckingham says executives must have two key leadership qualities: optimism and a big ego. More importantly, they must use clarity to overcome fear. He states that teams share a natural human fear of the unknown, and clarity is the best defense against it.

Use a clear message and back it up with actions that support it to drive focus across your entire organization. Buckingham says this is the approach companies like Tesco and Wal-Mart have used to reach success. Former NYC Mayor Giuliani even used clear, specific objectives like removing subway graffiti to achieve the larger goal of cleaning up the city.

Set Clear, Specific Objectives

Clarity and strengths-based management are the most effective ways to drive performance. To put these tactics together in action, set clear, specific objectives that develop teams’ strengths. OKR goal setting is the preferred method among companies like Google. OKR goals create clarity of top objectives and ensure employees feel connected to the company’s mission. Managers can also collaborate with teams to set objectives that support strengths development. This clarity and understanding of top objectives and strengths building work together to drive performance and boost results at the individual, team, and company level.

What else? What are some ways you focus on strengths and use clarity to achieve objectives in your organization?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

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