If you want to enhance your learners, find their strengths

by L&D11 Apr 2017
According to a recent survey by PD Training (PDT), almost half of Australians who don’t believe their strengths are well used at their workplace are planning to head for the door.

In an interview with L&D Professional, Paul Findlay, PDT’s managing director, said organisations that don't help people work to their strengths tend not to do so because they don't know what their strengths are – or how to find them.

“Organisations think that assigning someone tasks based on their strengths is impossible or irresponsible if they weren't already etched into their job description,” Findlay explained.

“The reality is that people will do their job more proactively, thoroughly and to a higher standard if you can include tasks that leverage their strengths.”

Findlay said that if a manager is responsible for employee performance and/or employee satisfaction and they don’t help them leverage the learners’ strengths, the manager is “irresponsibly limiting their performance and happiness”.

“They don't realise what it means in a practical sense,” he said.

“One of my simplest examples of enabling people to contribute more by working to their strengths – asking a particular team member to do proofing of written work of any type that's important.”

Findlay said the learner relishes the opportunity to proof, is “remarkably good at it”, and “recognises the importance of what he is doing for the professionalism of our brand”.

“His substantive position is as a client relationship manager, so this is outside his primary role,” he said.

“The volume of proofing he is asked to do doesn't diminish his effectiveness at his role, but gives him an opportunity to use one of his strengths, take pride in his work and contribute more to the business.”

Findlay added that the learner makes time to do this extra task, completes it “with a smile, enthusiasm and pride that is great to watch”.

“There are opportunities like this all around your business if you seek to find people's strengths, they will do more, contribute more, and feel more valued and appreciated,” he said.

Findlay said that people are changing their job roles much more frequently than they used to – a behaviour he says is reflective of an “increasing expectation that we are valued, contributing to something that is in line with our core values”.

“These traits are true especially with Millennials and younger learners,” he said.

Finding opportunities to recognise people's strengths and helping them work to them will most certainly help them stick, and statistically we know people do change jobs comparatively lightly.”

‘A major opportunity to refresh our thinking’

Findlay said the report’s findings “speak to a major opportunity to refresh our thinking”.

“There is an opportunity to refresh our thinking from delivering training based only to a job description that was written without consideration of the actual person hired and focussed often on their 'development opportunities' or weaknesses,” he said.

“It also switches our thinking to genuine optimisation of each person's performance and contribution by identifying their strengths and helping them maximise their potential, enthusiasm for their role and overall contribution.”

Findlay pointed out that this can also enhance learners’ satisfaction by identifying and recognising strengths and focussing energies on things people are good at.

“At the same time it lets them develop their skills and spend more time in those areas,” he said.

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