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ATD Blog

Strengths-Based Talent Management


Sat Sep 21 2013


People who have the opportunity to do what they do best every day are happier and more successful. A strengths-based approach to managing talent recognizes the value of emphasizing strengths and adopts practices that help employees identify, use and develop their strengths at work.

Identify strengths – The first step in a strengths-based approach to management is to help employees discover their strengths. Managers can use strengthspotting to identify strengths in others. Clues that point to potential strengths are enjoyment, ease, energy, and excellence. Inventories can also be used to assess people’s strengths. Some popular ones include the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, the StrengthsFinder, and Realise2.


Use strengths – Once strengths have been identified, opportunities need to be created for employees to use their strengths. Selection procedures should focus on hiring individuals with the particular strengths needed to meet the organization’s goals. Since jobs are rarely designed based on an employee’s unique combination of strengths, managers need to work with employees to modify their roles so that they make the best use of their strengths. Designing work in teams can be helpful because tasks can be allocated to team members on the basis of their strengths. And why not designate a few hours each week as “strengths time” during which individuals can work on tasks that don’t fall within their job descriptions but do advance the company’s goals? 

Develop strengths – Performance appraisals play an important role in strengths-based talent management. Traditional appraisals focus more on fixing weaknesses than on developing strengths. Yet people’s greatest successes come from building on their strengths. The same effort it takes to improve a weakness a little bit can greatly improve a strength. Time should be dedicated to identifying the tasks at which employees excel and finding ways for them to identify further develop their strengths through training and practice.

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