What kind of club operator are you? One that allows your employees to do what they do best or one that tries to make everyone fit into a certain job category regardless of their strengths and weaknesses? Author and business consultant Marcus Buckingham, who offered the keynote on the second day of the IHRSA show, said that the answer to that question might determine your business's success or failure.
When Buckingham worked for the Gallup organization, he conducted a study in which they asked employees of a company that had a multitude of stores and a wide range in profitability from store to store to answer several questions. They wanted to determine why one company would have such a large variation in performance from store to store.
Upon gathering the answers, Gallup tossed out the results from questions in which employees at the top and bottom stores answered in the same manner and looked only at the questions in which the answers were different. The following question appeared to be the question with the greatest difference in answer between the top and bottom stores: At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? At the top performing stores, a high number of employees answered yes. At the bottom performing stores, a high number of employees answered no.
Buckingham contends that people feel more productive if they are doing what they do best.
“When they can do this, things seem better, things work better,” he said.
That's also why Buckingham says that to be a better person/employee, people must leverage their strengths and work around their weaknesses rather than focus all their time on trying to improve where they are weak.
“The world wants performance, but it doesn't know about your strengths,” Buckingham says, meaning that if you spend your time using your strengths, you are offering performance—and at a much higher level than if you were providing performance based on trying to improve your weaknesses.
Of course, Buckingham was not saying that you should not try to improve weaknesses, but he said that employers should focus more time in a review on people's strengths and how to use those strengths to benefit the team, then spend some time on reviewing weaknesses and how to improve. It also means that employers should ensure that people are in jobs that allow them to use their strengths to their full extent.
He used Warren Buffet as an example. The billionaire gave millions of dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to dispense the money as they saw fit. Why did he do this? He told the press it was because they could give away his money better than he could. Besides, he added, charity is no fun for me. What did he mean by this? He meant that his strength was in making money, not in giving it away, so he didn't want to harm the process by getting involved in that process.
Buffet knows something that we all should remember: focus on your strengths and you can blossom.
“There are risks to blossoming, but the risk is far greater to not blossom,” Buckingham said.