According to Gallup’s recent research (The State of the Global Workplace), a staggering 85% of employees globally are either not engaged or actively disengaged in their jobs. The UK is one of the worst countries in Europe with only 10% engaged. The report also shows the importance of the role of managers in employee engagement. 70% of the reason employees are not engaged is apparently down to the competency of their manager. Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and business results, so these statistics are sobering.
Whilst eye opening, it may not come as too much of a surprise to many business leaders and those in Talent Development. There is a shift in the way employees now expect to be managed and organisations are looking at ways where they can attract, develop and retain talent. Increasingly employees are looking for managers that value their contribution, understand and develop their strengths so they can succeed. Traditionally, a lot of talent and leadership development has focussed on helping people develop skills that they struggle with. Whilst looking at ways to manage these difficulties is important and the best way to grow is undoubtedly to put yourself outside your comfort zone, it is perhaps even more important to really understand what your strengths are and the value they bring to the organisation.
If you take Jonny Wilkinson (or another athlete/sportsman) as an example – he spent many hours practising and refining his unique talent to kick a rugby ball. The endless hours spent on the training pitch perfecting this skill led to an increased chance of success when it came to match situations. This was most memorably demonstrated when he kicked the winning drop goal to win the rugby world cup for England in 2003. I suspect that, had he worked as hard on something that he was naturally not so good at, he wouldn’t have been so successful.
As with Jonny Wilkinson, by understanding your unique talents and investing in them to become key strengths you are likely to be more effective and valued in your role. Strengths can develop significantly and consistently, particularly with a growth mindset – that is, by being open to and working on constructive feedback. It will also, naturally, give you more energy and belief that you can succeed in what you aim to achieve – there is nothing more powerful than believing in yourself and recognising that others appreciate your ability as well. Conversely, there is nothing more demotivating than investing time and energy in working on your “weaknesses” – they are hard to work on and rarely do you see significant improvement. However, by recognising them and understanding the triggers, you can develop strategies that can help to “manage” them.
By understanding your strengths and the value they bring to your role, you are more likely to find the right role for yourself where you can succeed, by building or being part of a team that will complement your strengths. In fact, imagine how effective and engaged a team would be if everyone understood and appreciated each other’s strengths and leveraged them appropriately to work towards a common goal?