Managing employee performance was once seen as a relatively punitive process. If employees met expectations, they were rewarded. If they were just toeing the line, they got a pat on the back. If they didn’t meet expectations, they were written up and given a warning that they needed to shape up or ship out.
That was then. This is now. Things have changed immensely in the world of performance management, not the least of which is the shift away from punitive measures and toward positive development based on strengths-based management.
Not sure what strengths-based management is or why it has such an impact on employee performance? We’ll explore that below. We will also touch on why it’s such an important consideration for businesses hoping to retain key talent and achieve greater success within their industries.
What Does Strengths-Based Management Mean?
First, let’s define what we’re talking about. Strengths-based management is pretty much what it sounds like – management based on the strengths of your employees. However, that’s a pretty simplistic explanation, so let’s dig a little bit deeper.
Everyone in your organization has its own strengths and weaknesses. In a best-case scenario, those strengths relate directly to the employee’s current role within the business. However, that’s not often the case. Frequently, there’s a mismatch between strengths and the roles that your people fill.
By using managers to identify strengths in employees, and through advanced onboarding processes, you can ensure that you get the best fit possible. Why does it really matter, though? Is it just about ensuring maximum productivity? Not really. It’s about encouraging your employees. It’s about empowering them and ensuring that they are deeply engaged with their role.
Strengths-Based Management Enhances Loyalty and Employee Longevity
Churn is one of the most dangerous forces for any company. You invest time and money to onboard employees, get them up to speed, and train them to perform a role. They work within the business for a while, but then they leave, seeking greener pastures.
Strengths-based management is the key to avoiding this outcome. Why is that? When management can identify key strengths, capabilities, and talents, and then create an environment in which employees can put those qualities to work, it fosters a positive environment and motivates employees.
Not only does that lead to improved performance on the job, but it also helps improve employee loyalty. After all, one of the leading reasons for employees jumping ship is not feeling valued in their position. It often doesn’t relate to financial compensation, but instead to having the ability to do their best work in a way that ties in with their abilities and interests.
It’s about providing employees with an incentive to do their best work. It’s focused on making it pleasurable to do whatever it is that they do. It’s not about pay or any other external factor. Real employee retention relies on engagement and making them feel intrinsically motivated.
Changes to the Employee Lifecycle
What does your employee lifecycle look like? For too many companies, it involves onboarding, an initial position, a single promotion, and then a long period of stagnation before the individual leaves the company. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
With strengths-based management in place, you’re able to change the employee lifecycle, sometimes dramatically. Here’s a quick rundown of how it might work:
- Employees are recruited based not just on experience and education, but on interests, passions, skills, and talents.
- Based on all of those factors, a good position is chosen within the organization.
- Employees receive training and support to get up and running in the company, but also in an ongoing way.
- Ongoing training and development are designed to help identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide support to help employees become the best they can be.
- Employees don’t remain static within an organization. The management works with them to create a career path that is based on their strengths and helps ensure that employees move through a series of positions that they find deeply rewarding and engaging.
Of course, achieving this requires that you have the right performance management system in place. It should be one that helps your managers focus on strengths while mitigating weaknesses, and it should dovetail with employee development and growth initiatives, including voluntary training and upskilling.
Building Your Brand Beyond the Business
A strengths-based management approach helps you create a positive corporate culture and helps establish your company as a leader in the industry. It ensures that you’re able to attract the right talent, and retain them for longer periods. However, it doesn’t guarantee that they won’t leave eventually.
There is simply no way to guarantee that employees will remain with your company. Life changes, new goals, and other impacts outside the workplace can take key employees away. However, you still benefit from taking a strengths-management approach here, because it ensures that wherever they go, they’ll advocate for your company. They will help you build a stronger brand even when they are no longer a part of the company.
It all comes down to creating a memorable experience (for the right reasons). Employees who have been deeply engaged with their role in the business, who were able to enjoy rewarding work that built on their strengths, will take that with them and sing your praises.
Support Your Team and Grow Your Business
Ultimately, the strengths-based management approach is all about supporting your team and helping them become their best selves. It’s also a key consideration for a growing, thriving business that can attract top talent and then retain those employees over time. In the end, the experience will stay with employees even if they move on to other employers in the future, building your brand and positioning your firm as a leader in the industry.