Strengths-Based Talent Management

Saturday, September 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. 

About the Author
Beth Cabrera is the author of Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being and a senior scholar at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. As a writer, researcher, and speaker, she helps individuals achieve greater success and well-being. Beth’s leadership development programs focus on strengths, purpose, mindfulness, and workplace well-being. After earning her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, she earned tenure as a management professor at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, Spain. Beth later taught at Arizona State University and conducted research at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Read her blog at or follow her on Twitter @bethcabrera.
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