In The Good Conversation, focus on strengths!

by Danique Geskus | Sep 27, 2023

Focusing on strengths is an ingredient of The Good Conversation. The “strengths” approach states that if employees do work they are (already) good at, this will lead to even better performance, less absenteeism, more development and less turnover.


What is the definition of “strengths” approach?

The “strengths” approach is a perspective on development that focuses not so much on improving employees’ weaknesses, but rather on optimizing their strengths. In other words, paying attention to weaknesses weakens you, paying attention to strengths strengthens you.

In the “strengths” approach, there is a lot of room for employees to discover their talents and, for example, with training or coaching and during work, further develop them into real strengths. How does that work in practice?


Improvement agreements on deficiencies

Practice shows that when it comes to learning and change, people often start at weaknesses, the so-called deficiency approach. This begins at school, where students receive tutoring for a subject in which they are failing. Later, in their working lives, a B score in the appraisal interview (“needs improvement”) results in a coaching program. The idea is to close the gap between the competencies present in the profile and those required. This deficit-oriented approach is not wrong, of course. A person lying in the operating room with appendicitis hopes that the surgeon on duty has what it takes to skillfully remove the inflamed appendix.


Make development agreements about strengths

Learning and development from a deficit often takes energy. For example, to turn a competency or task that is rated four into a six is hard work for the employee. In the development process, the employee’s job satisfaction may decline (“I just can’t do it”) and the supervisor may experience frustration and irritation because his efforts (conversations, coaching) do not lead to the desired result. It can be different.


Fun makes in run!

Why not turn a seven into an eight? Learning and development from strengths provides employees with space, developmental power and opportunities to discover new
insights, approaches and experiences. Not only fun and challenging for them, also enjoyable for the manager. Employees do more work that they enjoy and are good at. Job satisfaction and performance rise, much to the delight of the manager.


Want to know more?

Want to know how to revamp the appraisal interview? Also read our blog “The appraisal interview and The New Appraisal: tips and examples.

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