The core concept of strengths-based approaches is to focus on strength in order to accelerate learning and performance in organisations. The idea is that it unlocks people’s passions and energy, helping them to excel in areas which are close to their natural personality and strengths.
Strengths-based approaches have been widely used in human resources for around two decades, but there are downsides to this approach if mistakes are made in during the process. It is especially important not to ignore people’s weaker areas and other performance risks.
What happens when we focus only on strengths?
When there is a huge focus on strengths, without any regard for other risks or weaknesses, some issues can arise. For example, in a work culture that is solely focused on strengths, people may fail to acknowledge and improve areas of non-strength, thus hindering their chances of achieveing their full potential. It cause people to use their strengths too much, or in the wrong way, resulting in one-sided development. Ultimately, by not addressing their areas of weakness, people aren’t encouraged to focus on the self-improvement which could affect their career goals or job performance.
Strengths-based approaches can be great for dealing with weaknesses, when done the right way
When applied the right way, strengths-based approaches don’t ignore weaknesses and other risks, but instead can be useful for healing in these areas. It can promote conversation surrounding development and offers solutionsbased performance, assessing risks to peak performance. A strengths-based approach should encourage people to partner or collaborate with others who have skills in different areas. That way, the complementary partnering helps to build a team whilst reducing the impact of weakness.
The strengths-based approach can be very effective and is widley used across organisations, however, when solely focusing on people’s strengths alone, the activity will not help them to improve overall performance and engagement. A strengths-based programme needs to help people find innovative ways to reduce their weaker areas, especially when these areas are limiting the performance of the person or team.