All too often, Diversity and Inclusion strategies are seen as a technical necessity in organisations focused on fulfilling their legal requirements and stakeholder expectations.
But this misses just about the biggest trick in people management today: discovering and utilizing the unique contribution that can be made by each and every employee that works for you.
We have found the strengths approach to provide a crucial part of the diversity and inclusion puzzle – this approach helps individual employees to understand their unique combination of strengths, talents, skills and experiences. When used in a talent/performance management context, the conversation is opened up to the employee’s line manager to enable them to understand how best to leverage the strengths of each employee. The result is a more empowering, enabling conversation for the employee, where they feel valued, recognised and understood and where they are encouraged to deliver their work in a way that plays to their unique strengths – this leads to them being more likely to put in effort at work that goes ‘above and beyond’ expectations. And as a result, the line manager creates a happier, more engaged climate for the team to do their best work, leading to higher levels of productivity.
An important condition for the success of this approach we have found is that line managers and employees share a ‘common language’ to describe their strengths and talents, indeed to describe how they are unique and different and how this can contribute value to the team and organisation. Without this common language, the approach can be too open to personal bias and may lead to misunderstandings. So we have found the best practice approach to using strengths comes when all employees and managers are briefed on the approach and when they are upskilled in using modified processes, so that everyone is confident and competent in having conversations about strengths and risk areas.
Paul Brewerton, Joint Managing Director, Strengths Partnership