Shirley J. Caruso, Ed.D.
Human Resource Development (HRD) Professionals are responsible for encouraging employees to participate in performance management and customer satisfaction. This is accomplished by creating and implementing a system that identifies competencies, established goals, and projects the expected outcome. Establishing a problem solving procedure and setting standards for employee performance are two crucial strategies for the improvement of organizational performance. To do so, HRD professionals need to adopt the help of managers and employees in identifying employee strengths and weaknesses, build on the identified strengths, and manage the identified weaknesses.
Identifying and Building on Strengths
As part of their personal development, employees should compose a list of their strengths. Managers should then work with employees on developing each strength listed. Methods of strength development include using the identified strength as often as possible during a designated timeframe, recording how it is used and the benefits that result from its use. The employee’s efforts throughout the designated timeframe should be discussed in an informal manner with managers. Managers should also solicit feedback from employees on how they felt about using the strengths and whether a benefit from using the strength was achieved.
Once strengths are identified, they are practiced by and then reflected upon by employees. Practicing the strengths allows them to move towards a masterful level, and reflection allows employees to experience new levels of learning.
Identifying and Managing Weaknesses
In order to manage weaknesses, they must first be identified. Many weaknesses are observable because they are constantly being pointed out. An employee’s failure to master straightforward tasks and activities is certainly observable and may indicate slow learning. Becoming overly defensive about one’s performance may also indicate a weakness in an employee’s ability to perform a task at mastery level. In addition, employees may attempt to overcompensate for their poor performance, which indicates weakness.
HRD professionals can collaborate with managers to manage weaknesses. According to Clifton and Nelson (1992), managers and HRD professionals can engage in four strategies that help employees minimize their weaknesses. These strategies include delegating, partnering, preventing, and accepting alternatives.
Delegating provides opportunities for employees to take on additional responsibilities.
Partnering involves combining two employees’ strengths to achieve a goal, producing a synergy that results in a better job done together than separately.
Preventing involves helping employees identify situations in which they consistently fail.
Accepting Alternatives involves learning to live with differences.
Some employees need a great deal of support or encouragement when using new skills or applying new knowledge. Others must relearn skills in a safe environment. HRD professionals and managers can work together to facilitate individual development thereby building strengths and managing weaknesses. Their efforts improve performance and assure that the cost of learning new skills gives the organization a return on investment (ROI).
Clifton, D. O., and Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with your strengths. New York: Villard Books.