Tapping into Business People's Greatest Strengths

Many businesses are missing an opportunity to tap into the greatest strengths of the people who work there. And those who lead and manage those businesses do not feel that their department or organization utilizes what they perceive to be their own greatest strengths as well.

When asked in a nationwide survey how well their department and/or organization taps into the greatest strengths of the people who work there, 22 percent of senior executives and managers said extremely well.

When it comes to how well their own greatest strengths were utilized by the people they work for, 28 percent said extremely well, according to the survey conducted by NFI Research.

However, fewer managers than senior executives feel their organizations use their greatest strengths. And regarding the size of the business, more executives and managers at smaller companies rather than large companies feel their greatest strengths are being tapped.

“In my experience, it is the rare company that actively focuses on fully utilizing the strengths of its employees,” said one survey respondent. “Certainly, they hire based on talent, but they do not necessarily look to maximize all the talents and strengths of their employees. Too often, we settle for getting the job done, and do not capitalize on the strengths of our employees.”

The great problem with an organization not capitalizing on its employees’ greatest strengths is one of missed opportunity.

The business misses leveraging inherent skills of an individual while that person gets frustrated feeling under-utilized. Even worse, the business might be pressuring an employee, manager or executive to perform tasks and functions that play to the person’s greatest weaknesses, causing more frustration and increasing stress.

“The organization does not look at what people do well,” said one respondent. “They more or less dictate what they think you should do well for their perception of your job. For example, a network administrator was told that he should program and implement a database, because it has to do with computers.”

Of course, an organization might also make the mistake of asking a person to continually perform a certain task because that individual appears to be very good at performing that particular task. What the manager may not realize is the amount of effort the person has to expend on the task vs. someone else who might perform the same task equally well, with much less effort. It all comes down to being able to properly tap the most significant strengths of each individual.

Perfectly matching the task at hand to the proper individual presents organizations with great opportunity, though it can be somewhat challenging at times.

“Because of all the cutbacks, employees (myself included) have to pick up extra duties that are time consuming, yet must be done,” said a respondent. “Time devoted to tasks that were once completed by another employee is not time and talent well spent.”

“Working with a very small staff, our main issue in this area is the amount of time and stress involved in doing things that are necessary, but are not core competencies for an individual,” said another survey respondent. “Too often the strengths of a particular person are underutilized because of the responsibilities that fall outside of their giftedness.”

Individuals at work should pause to take inventory of what they perceive to be their greatest strengths and attempt to match those strengths with the right job.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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