How to build a strengths based organisation

You might have heard people talking about strengths based organisations. The idea is a simple one; focus on what people are good at and what they love to do (their strengths) rather than what they can do (their competencies.) The payoff is substantial – greater engagement, higher productivity, lower staff turnover and more profit. Below are a few simple tips for how you can make the most of the strengths in your organisation.

1. Focus on strengths not competence. Take a critical look at your people and organisational development activities. Where do they focus on releasing the talent, energy and enthusiasm of your people and by contrast where do they focus on fixing people’s weaknesses? Build the strengths conversation into everything you do, one to ones, appraisals, 360s, development awaydays, recruitment. Make work about what people love to do (their strengths) rather what they can or can’t do (their competences.)

2. Make sure team members know and value their own and each other’s strengths. People perform at their best when they play to their strengths and to do that they need to know their own strengths and the strengths of the people they work with. Time taken to appreciate the value added, particularly by those who have differing strengths can transform a mediocre team into a high performing team.

3. Catch people doing things right. This isn’t just about saying thanks, its about letting people know what they did that was so good. The benefits are twofold; giving people positive feedback leaves them feeling energised but it also builds their appreciation of what they can contribute and focusses their attention on the things you want from them.

4. Build teams with the diverse strengths needed for the task. It has been understood for nearly 50 years that the strongest teams are diverse and made up of people with different strengths. Have the conversation about the strengths that are needed for the task and build teams that have the right diversity of strengths.

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