The Next Best Management Buzz Words: Strength-Based Cultures
Recently I was reading an article about “strength-based work cultures.” My first impulse was to shake my head. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the ever-changing ideas revolving around management, motivation and employee engagement. The idea of strength-based work cultures has been around for years, but it’s making a comeback and is the current “new again” buzz for managers. I kept reading the article, despite my doubt, because I figured worst case scenario I’d waste a few minutes, best case I may learn something that could be applied to powersports world.
Most of these exciting management approaches are based on pure common sense. As in, just treat your employees like people, not numbers: say please and thank you; show appreciation; allow employees to give input and be heard; and help employees reach their full potential. If you do this, you’ll likely have employees who enjoy their jobs and want to stay. Having a strength-based culture is also based on that common sense. Of course, if we all had common sense and actually used it, we probably wouldn’t have high turnover rates — or employees who become so disgruntled that managers have no choice but to let them go.
Strength-based cultures are basically those that allow employees to use their strengths. Brilliant, right? Basically, employees should focus on work that they do well, and build strong foundations in work allows them to excel. If you have a motorcycle mechanic who is awesome at working on bikes, but not so good at customer service, then that employee’s focus should be on maintenance and repairs. As a manager, you should try to keep that employee away from the parts counter and interactions with customers. Highlighting these strengths will improve the employee’s self-esteem, make them happier and make them a better team member.
By having a company that focuses on a strength-based culture, employees are able to continually learn and develop skills related to things that they do well, instead of rambling through their career trying to learn things that they aren’t interested in and they will likely not be successful in doing. A strength-based culture allows all employees to understand each other’s strengths… which in turn helps teams work together to be more productive and increases positive feelings between employees.
The best news about strength-based cultures is they have been found to increase employee engagement. So now the issue becomes how to figure out what an employee’s strengths are so managers can utilize those strengths to increase productivity and retain employees.
First, the management gurus at Gallup (www.gallup.com) suggest you put your employees through an online quiz called CliftonStrengths 34. For the low price of $49.99 (yeah, it’s on sale!) you can get a complete profile of “who you really are and how to maximize your potential by unlocking full access to all 34 of your CliftonStrengths themes.” Sounds like a bargain, right? Here’s an easier way: go to https://high5test.com/ and take the free High 5 Test. Have your employees take the test. The results will highlight strengths that you and your employees should focus on. Sounds easy. So I tried it.
Taking the “quiz” is super easy. Answer whether you agree or disagree (on a sliding scale) for multiple questions regarding various topics from how you feel about competition, whether the glass is half empty or half full, if you like challenges, whether you follow through with commitments, and how patient you are. After answering about 30 questions, you’ll receive “Your High 5” which are your personal five top strengths. At this point, you have a choice, because even when something’s free, it really isn’t. You can pay $40 for more information, or just click the arrow to obtain more information about each of those strengths. I’ve put my results below with a brief comment about what each bullet means.
My High 5 Results:
1) Coach: Your objective is to develop people’s potential. Contrary to what others might think, you believe that every person has the potential for development.
2) Catalyst: Your objective is to act and to initiate action. You cannot wait until the discussions are over, wondering when we can actually start doing something.
3) Optimist: Your objective is to bring positive spirit. If there is someone believing that the glass is half-full instead of half-empty — then it’s you.
4) Deliverer: Your objective is to take responsibility. If there is a person who is emotionally bound to follow through on all promises — then it’s you.
5) Peace Keeper: Your objective is to solve conflicts and to establish harmony. You believe that, because conflicts divide us, one needs to find areas of common agreement to go further.
So now I bet you’re wondering, was this little quiz even CLOSE to how I see myself, or how I actually behave? Truth be told, I think it was pretty spot on. Now, what to do with this information? I think it’s clear I shouldn’t be in a position that doesn’t allow me to utilize my mind, to explore ideas, and to troubleshoot those ideas. This means, I’m probably never going to be completely happy with others telling me what to do or when to do it. I need freedom to try new ideas, and to help others succeed. Doing the right thing is important to me and I want others to do the right thing, too.
This information could come in handy… but honestly, I already knew that. Your employees probably already know what their strengths are, too. They definitely know what interests them and what type of work makes them happy and fulfilled. They also know more about what needs to be fixed in any particular business than those people who aren’t actually doing the work.
The Take Away
Instead of focusing too much on the newest management buzz word, spending money and time on training that isn’t really needed, maybe we all should focus on using more common sense. I can’t help but think if we all were better communicators, if we actually listened to our employees (and we heard what they said), and if we let employees assist with answering some of our big questions, everyone would be happier, more content, and more engaged. And that’s what reduces turnover and the expense of retraining people.
Now, that is my idea of a Strength Based Culture!
MotorcycleIndustryJobs.com founder Alex Baylon has been hiring and firing people the powersports industry for 25 years. Currently with a major distributor, he has also been with Dragon Alliance, Ceet Racing, MX GP Services in Europe, Acerbis USA, Motonation/Sidi Boots and Scott USA. He started MIJ as he saw a need in the industry for people who are passionate about the motorcycle industry to have an employment outlet. The motorcycle industry like many others has always recycled employees from one company to another and it has always been done by word of mouth. MIJ allows companies in the industry to post their openings and give others in and out of the industry a chance to apply and insert new blood and fresh ideas in the many opportunities in the motorcycle industry.