Appreciating Change has long been an advocate of strengths based development, finding it to be more effective and more motivating than deficit based development. These findings have been supported by research and development in the area of positive psychology. Recent research suggests:
- That in the UK those who choose to focus on their strengths and manage around their weaknesses are in a minority. (Suggesting that most choose to focus on their weaknesses).
- That the strength of our neural connections is at the root of our ‘talents’ (things we can do almost effortlessly) and our weaknesses (things we don’t do or do badly).
- That it takes a lot of repetition and effort to change established neural patterns. One group that do this successfully are trainee taxi drivers acquiring ‘the knowledge’, and we all know the dedication they put in to achieve that degree of neural connection growth.
- It seems that there is a greater return on investment on development, generally, in strengthening synaptic connections that are already strong i.e focussing on strengths.
- Individual strengths development involves three stages: identification of talent; integration into how the individual views himself or herself;and behavioural change.
- Individuals who focus on identifying and developing their strengths report increases in satisfaction and productivity. It is also suggested that they experience more positive psychological states such as hopefulness, confidence and subjective well-being.
Research suggests also that there is increased employee engagement, which in turn can link to increased profitability, turnover, safety, customer satisfaction and more.
So, what does this mean for managers and leaders?
- There are several ways to identify talents: spontaneous reactions (e.g. people who automatically take the lead in confused situations, people who automatically introduce order into dis-order), rapid learning (things we pick up quickly), yearnings ( what people want to do, often showed as their private passions – learning a new language -for fun! for instance), and satisfactions.
- Be always alert to these cues. Remember, people often can’t actually identify their own talents (as in, ‘but doesn’t everyone work like this?’).
- Help people understand where their talents lie.
- Create opportunities for people to work to their talents. Fit the job to the person not the person to the job.
- Ensure that acknowledgement of an area of weaknesses is seen as effective self-awareness that allows something positive to be done to help.
- Create work-arounds for areas of weakness that might cause difficulties. Make sure people know the areas in which they might be vulnerable to error, and that help is at hand.
Source:Hodges and Clifton (2004) Strengths based development in practice. in Linley and Joesph (eds) Positive Psychology in practice. Wiley
Appreciating Change Positive Coaching
Appreciating Change offers a strengths based coaching service. For more information see our services, connect Sarah Lewis on 020 8293 0017 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org