November 23, 2008

The performance appraisal form asks about areas of improvements. It asks about negative traits that affect performance and penalizes accordingly. Training programs are designed to work upon areas of weakness. Feedback of the boss mostly focuses on what the weaknesses are and how to improve upon them.

Where is the place for strengths of the employees? Very few organizations focus on the strengths of their employees. A big majority of them remain preoccupied with the weaknesses of the employees.

Research has shown that excellence comes from leveraging strengths and working on to make our strengths stronger. Weaknesses are present in every individual. But focusing on converting weaknesses into strength is mostly a futile exercise. At most, weaknesses can be managed around to transform them from a liability to a neutral form where they neither adversely affect performance nor add any significant value. Development of an individual or an organization only comes from playing to the strengths and continuously focusing on them.

The best thing about strength is that everyone has some areas of strength. The key is identifying those areas of strengths and finding out ways to leverage them. Similarly, everyone has some areas of weaknesses. The key is to identify them and try to stay away from things that require these weaknesses as strengths.

But despite strong backing from research, organizations are yet to embrace a strength focused performance management system. They are still weakness centric and despite all the efforts in converting a weakness of an individual to strength, they fail miserably because nature of things can't be changed. Have you ever succeeded in straightening the tail of a dog? Wise men know it can't be done so they don't bother about it. What they bother about is how to utilize the dog in the best possible way despite that curvy tail!