How to Engage Employees - Part 2

Skip Reardon, at Six Disciplines blog, has a great entry today that connects two favorite dots of mine, Engagement & Strengths.

He says: "If your manager focuses on your strengths, your chances of being actively disengaged are only 1%. How could we not be talking to each other, all the time, about our strengths?"

Great question, Skip. Here's one possible reason that managers are not focused on strengths: they don't get it.

Seems to me that this Engagement stuff is part of a new paradigm. Some early adopters are already there, while a vast sea of managers are still mired in the old ways of thinking about people.

So Idea # 2 for Managers, who want to better engage their employees, is: Focus on Strengths. By focusing on strengths, you will start to realize what Martin Seligman, co-founder of Positive Psychology, has found in his research work on the power of positivity: that people who engage their strengths at work are not only happier, they are more successful.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Mar 17, 2008

Comments

Dean said…
Terrance -

Based on my observations, it is very difficult (generally speaking) to focus on strengths because it seems to me that most of the time the focus is on weaknesses, mistakes and all that follows those two. Don't make a mistake becomes the mantra and everyone from the top to the bottom becomes out of condition on what went right. Similar to the effect of the media focus on bad news vs good news. It is hard work. Most situations I have been in where we focused on strengths were very difficult to keep focused at the strengths. The weaknesses and flaws were much easier. I wonder if there is something in the way the brain works that makes it such.
Joan Schramm said…
I agree that it's much easier for managers (and employees) to focus on weaknesses and mistakes. It gives them something definite to work on -- telling someone he needs to cut his error rate on payroll entries from 10% to 5% is objective and easily understood by both parties. Telling someone that you value his ability to connect with other people and achieve a consensus is harder to manage. First, managers are conditioned to look for ways to improve, which in most cases means trying to catch peole doing something wrong so they can effect a change, and therefore an improvement. Second, organizations don't seem to reward the status quo, and I think many managers would view talking about a worker's strengths as tacit agreement that nothing needs improving.

Good managers, and companies, make a determined effort to discover, channel and reward strengths instead of looking for ways to punish mistakes.
Terrence Seamon said…
Dean,
I agree that we have been taught and trained to focus on the negative. So, when it comes to strengths, we really don't know how.
Terry
Terrence Seamon said…
Joan,
You're right that we Managers know how to manage from an identified weakness. (At least, we think we do.)

But we probably have very little notion of how to manage from a strength...though there are probably a zillion sports coaches out there who could tell us how they do it with their players, week in and week out.
Terry

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