Working From Our Strengths

Working From Our StrengthsAs far as they were concerned their son lived one step removed from inertia. Compared with them, he approached life as a polar opposite. No wonder they mused whether tags had been switched in the delivery room.

They raced from task to task. He contemplated the cosmos.

They added to the ‘to do’ list as soon as items were dropped. He dreamed of ‘could be’s’ and ‘why not’s’.

At work their relationships were restricted to tasks at hand and didn’t extend beyond the close of the workday.

He conversed while working, discussions going far beyond the task at hand. His connections with others sprung from genuine interest and as such when the end of the day came, he and his colleagues, oblivious that it was time to leave, were hardly aware of all they had accomplished.

When their efforts were rewarded by promotion to the coveted corner offices, no one was surprised.

But few would have guessed that in 5 years time, the dreamer would be opening his fifth store in his rapidly expanding personnel business?

Different styles. Different perspectives. Different methodologies.

Same outcome.

When we fixate on differences, perspectives narrow prohibiting people from seeing what should be seen. In their mind, the pathway to success has a prescribed route when in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.

We would do well to remember that our particular take on the world is not a template for others to prescriptively follow. On the contrary the likelihood of a company’s success grows exponentially when people operate from their areas of strength and passion. Obviously these need to function within the context of the organization’s mission and boundaries but this means that we are guided primarily by key principles not past practices.

So does this mean that we need to administer personality assessments to our employees before strengths can be understood and maximized? Well, despite my temptation to say yes as a Birkman consultant, what is needed is a commitment to willingly be a student of those with whom you work.

Now don’t hear this incorrectly.

This isn’t to suggest that the workplace is to become a touchy, feely place where we have to walk softly around each other’s feelings or where we need to take undue interest in the latest achievement of their little cherub.

But it does speak to the issue that people want to be known and that they are much more than the function they fulfill.

Becoming a student of others requires a spirit of curiosity rather than an attitude of judgment. It wonders why something may or may not have been done rather than coming to a pre-determined conclusion typically arrived at by assumption rather than fact. When judgment triumphs over curiosity, you are almost always going to be having trouble.

Curiosity that leads to better understanding of situations and individuals will result in a more efficient and more enjoyable work environment. How much time and money is wasted by placing potentially valuable employees in wrong areas of function? Expending a little more proactive time will reduce practices such as assigning a low structure need employee to task regimented duties. That investment will impact the bottom line.

A manager oriented to spreadsheets and account data meets his need by compelling sales staff to lengthy scheduled meetings but is bewildered at the chill once the informal camaraderie shifts to charts, graphs, and projections.

When people are functioning in the wrong utilization of their interests, needs, and skills, a company’s resources are squandered. They may complete the tasks but this is achieved at a high cost. Energy is dissipated. Commitment is lessened. The inevitable result is diminished productivity.

But the loss isn’t restricted to them. The time you thought you were saving by quickly placing this employee is spent in long hours of supervisory frustration.

Much of this changes when individuals are placed in areas that utilize their strengths and interests. You may be surprised at the contributions made by committed employees who suggest a different procedure or provide a vision that will better situate the company for the future. When passion aligns with purpose, people become invested in the outcome.

So if you want to motivate your employees beyond stickers and stars and promotions and bonuses, allow them to be active contributors to your company’s vision. Find ways to encourage them to utilize their strengths in the jobs to which they have been assigned. Stand back long enough to consider how an employee could be utilized in an area that plays to their strengths. Understand the language and behaviors that motivate and increase their productivity and you will not only win an employee, you will build a culture that is value added.

Companies that fail to address this often find a malaise seeping into the workplace. When there is a large gap between the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization, turnover is high.

This is not a strategy or formulaic approach to placement rather it is genuine commitment to value those with whom we work and to find ways that benefit them and us.

Engage in this process effectively and watch how quickly the culture of the organization changes.

by Rob Inrig

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.

I welcome your feedback as well as your stories how others helped you discover and start living out of your God given strengths.   Submissions are made with the understanding that they may be freely and without obligation be used in any future publications by Rob Inrig.

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