My last post was on finding out what your people are good at, to help them play to their strengths. So how can you put this idea into practice?
Georgie Fienberg is the founder of Afrikids, an inspirational charity working to improve the quality of life of vulnerable children in northern Ghana. Sustainability is key to its’ approach and its’ aim is to cease to exist, because its’ work is done, within a decade.
Afrikids recently held a strengths session for staff. First, they put all the skills needed in the organisation on pages and put them on the wall.
Then each person evaluated which were their strengths and which their weaknesses.
“What was amazing was that we didn’t find lots of people who thought they were great at everything. Everybody knew what their weaknesses were. It’s made a real difference to the culture here. It’s now acceptable to talk about weaknesses in a light way. It means that when we have a job that needs doing, we can have an open discussion about who would be best for it.”
Too often our corporate culture expects people to be good at everything. To admit you are not suited to a task is seen as a problem. Imagine taking Usain Bolt, the world’s greatest sprinter, and suggesting he work on his long-distance running because he wasn’t so good at that. But we may be doing just that in our appraisals, where we detail weaknesses and develop a plan to work on them.
How can you create a culture that focuses people on their strengths and makes it acceptable to acknowledge weaknesses?
DH guest blogger Henry Stewart is Chief Executive of the London-based Happy Ltd., a training company which has earned numerous awards including rankings in the World’s Most Democratic Workplaces and the UK’s Best Workplaces, and the Institute of IT Training’s Gold medal for Training Company of the Year. Download Henry’s book, The Happy Manifesto, for free, read his blog, or check him out on Twitter @happyhenry.