How to become a strength-based organisation

In a previous post I talked about the importance of understanding what makes you feel strong and what makes you feel weak and then maximising the former and minimising the latter.  The assertion I made was that not only the individual, but also the team and organisation benefits when individuals play to their strengths.  The first of these is easy to see; if I am doing more of the things that make me feel strong, then clearly I gain.  However, the benefit to the team and organisation is less clear, especially given the view that such an approach, focused so much on the individual, will actually be detrimental.  Would it not be better for the team and organisation for each person to do whatever the wider group required, rather than what is best for them?

In order to answer that question Marcus Buckingham compared a number of companies,  looking at their financial success and to what extent they were strength-based organisations.  They found a high degree of correlation.  More specifically they found 12 diagnostic factors which were highly indicative of success.  They turned these factors  into questions and grouped them to emphasise the order of importance (the most fundamental factors are listed first).  Where large number of employees answered ‘yes’ to these questions the organisation was more likely to be successful compared to another organisation in the same situation.  Here are the groupings and the questions:

Base Camp – What do I get?

  • Do I know what is expected of me?
  • Do I have the equipment and materials I need to do my job right?

Camp 1 – What do I give?

  • Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last seven days have I received recognition or praise for my work?
  • Does my supervisor, or someone else at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Camp 2 – Do I belong here?

  • At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission of my organisation make me feel my job is important?
  • Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  • Do I have a best friend at work?

Camp 3 – How can we all grow?

  • In the last six months has someone talked to me about my progress?
  • In the last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

In order to become a strength-based, and therefore more successful (whatever that may mean in our context), organisation all we have to do is put things in place that mean that most of our people will answer ‘yes’ to those questions.  Perhaps the most exciting thing about the list from the perspective of any leader, but especially those in the charity sector, is that most, if not all, of those things are entirely free!

If you want to find out more, the research and its implications can be found in the following book:

First, Break All The Rules

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