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The Voco View on… Taking a strengths-based approach to work

Voco Team
Image of three people sitting round a wooden table making notes

As we speed towards the end of the year, it’s important to keep everyone’s spirits as high as their pumpkin spiced latte intake.

Focusing on both individual and team strengths is a great way to boost morale. It’s also a useful step forwards after an annual appraisal process - which we know many of you will be knee deep in right about now.

So, here are a few tips to help you bring strengths into sharper focus.

Strengths based planning

Knowing what our team / team members are good at is only part of the picture; using that knowledge to actively move a business forward takes a bit more effort. When it’s done well, mapping team strengths to action increases motivation, team engagement and ultimately, productivity.

But, the value of using team strengths to guide business planning is not as obvious to all managers as it is to us. Helping the people you support to see the connection between team strengths and goal setting is not only helpful to them, but will give you another opportunity to demonstrate how guidance from HR can have a tangible business benefit.

So if you’re having meetings with your managers about talent mapping or appraisal ratings, remember to ask them questions that will help them connect the outcomes of these discussions to the business goals they are setting themselves for the year ahead.

Strengths based development

If some of the managers you work with are still stuck with the mindset that development is about fixing a problem, now’s the time to speak out. Of course there will always be knowledge and skills gaps to fill but, if all the energy (and budget) goes into this type of development, then team morale could dip pretty low.

Of course you still need to support managers to access essential training when their team needs it, but reminding them that development is more than just addressing deficit, will make growth and progress a more likely outcome of the annual L&D spend. A high performing team is one where people use and build on the skills and strengths they already have - and who doesn’t want to build a high performing, happy team these days?

Next time your managers talk to you about team development, challenge them to think about how they can make their teams even better by taking a strengths based approach.

Strengths based communication

There is no doubt that we all respond better to positive messages than negative ones; it makes us more open to the opinions of others, we feel safer and more supported and we feel more satisfied with our work.

Communication comes in many different forms but encouraging managers to develop their feedback skills can provide a really quick win. In true strengths based style, start with the managers who are great at giving feedback first. Honing the feedback skills of the willing and able will be far easier to do and will create traction to get great feedback embedded into the everyday. When it feels normal, even the sceptics will want to join in.

As ever, modelling this behaviour yourself is a subtle but effective way to make positivity permeate through the organisations you support.

Further reading...

'What is strengths-based learning and development and why it matters?', Strengthscope

Four companies winning with feedback in the workplace’, Culture Partners

‘How to create a strengths-based culture’, Gallup

‘What is appreciative enquiry?’ Positivepsychology.com

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