Strengths-Based Approach to Better Productivity and Workplace Culture

August 31, 2017


A common job interview question we’ve all either had to answer or ask is, “What are your weaknesses?” Prospective employees spend time agonizing over how to answer this question in a way that turns their weaknesses into strengths. But let’s flip the question around: “What are your strengths?” Their answers might be more confident and spirited. Companies that use a strengths-based approach to hiring and keeping current talent can enhance strengths, innovation, and productivity.

What is a Strengths-Based Approach?

The strengths-based approach calls for companies to build on what their employees are good at instead of what can be fixed. The approach inspires employees to confidently say to themselves “This is my job and I’m good at what I do.”

The approach can also be proven to be valuable in employee onboarding by maximizing the power of the team members’ skills. According to Gallup, employees who are trained with a strengths-based approach are better performers than those who receive no strengths feedback while training.

Companies that align their employees’ strengths and passions with the right projects can expect to get results in productivity and innovation.

A Gallup assessment determined that there are four fundamental elements to a company’s strength-based development program.

1. Acknowledging employee strengths and the strengths of their colleagues

2. Employees experience more success by intentionally applying those strengths

3. Feeling a shared commitment to the strengths-based approach among colleagues and managers

4. Employees also feel a shared commitment to the strengthsbased approach from the company leadership

Cultivation Productivity and Innovation

Facebook is a company that adopts a strengths-based approach to cultivate productivity and innovation. As Forbes points out, Facebook has a non-traditional way to bring on talent without any role in mind. They allow employees to match their skills with projects of interest. The only key factor is that they don’t force unnatural talent when pairing team members to a project.

One way Facebook’s strengths-based approach directly creates innovation is by holding monthly meetings of what they call “hackathons.” The allnight meetings provide a chance for any ideas or passion projects to be placed on the table and to let fellow engineers work on them. Facebook provides the pizza and drinks while the engineers provide their skills. The goal is to act as a sort of thriving intellectual beehive of ideas and solutions. There’s just one rule to the “hackathons”: engineers can only work on someone else’s idea or project.

This forces engineers to bring out their individual strengths and ingenuity to bring the idea or project to the next level. The strengths-based “hackathons” created some of the most popular Facebook features like chat, video messaging and the Timeline.

The ABCD’s of Strength-Based Leadership

Even though we can’t all be Facebook, it’s possible for any company’s leadership to adopt a strengths-based approach. In fact, Forbes argues that if company leadership develops a strengths-based approach, amazing results will come in both employee brand loyalty and productivity.

To do this, Forbes suggests the “ABCDs of strength-based leadership.”

Align | your team members to work on projects that need to be done. Ask your employees, “who wants to take this on?” Think about your team members’ skills and the best fit for the project. Let them think about their skills and interests and have them step up to the plate. You may need to move some pieces of the puzzle, but the approach can ultimately foster innovation and creativity.

Build | a diverse team. Form a team with different perspectives, cultures, interests, ages, background, etc. This practice lets you build a complete picture with many strengths to get the job done right.

Create | a culture of transparency. You need your team members to trust you. Create a level of transparency where you listen to them and talk about their interests and motivations.

Don’t | just manage your teams, empower them. A diverse and complete team is just half the goal. The other half is to empower them by allowing them to take risks, be curious, and let them have strong perspectives and opinions. By empowering your teams, you invite exciting results.

Stop Focusing on Negatives

A strengths-based approach encourages companies to stop focusing on the negative aspects or weaknesses of their employees. It’s an approach that requires company leaders and hiring managers to evaluate potential employees’ valuable skills and passions. Company leaders can ask themselves, “What can this team member bring to the table that no one else can?” A team member who feels beneficial to a project strives to do their job well through creativity, innovation and a positive outlook on their work.

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