At Full Stretch
The Chinese expect nothing but the best from their children and employees; they encourage them to set and achieve nothing short of the highest standards and hold people accountable for achieving their best. James Brook, Director at Strengths Partnership Ltd, reckons Western businesses would benefit from' such a philosophy.
By setting high, positive performance expectations of their employees in areas of natural strength, the manager can also leverage a well-researched and powerful psychological process -a self-fulfilling prophecy or the Pygmalion Effect. There are various ways people can get 'stretch' in areas of strength, including: Building new knowledge and skills in areas of strength, taking on challenging assignments or projects that play to one's strengths. Coaching/training others in their areas of strength, gaining experience in different parts of the organisation through job rotations, secondments or short-term assignments and using strengths in new ways, tackles performance blockers and challenges.
In order to achieve 'flow' or total immersion and engagement in a job, research has shown that a person needs to have a passion or desire to do the job, i.e., they need to feel strengthened by it. There also needs to be a good match between the level of skills required and the level of challenge and 'stretch' provided. If there is no stretch, the employee is likely to quickly lose interest and becomes increasingly disengaged, undermining performance and effort. However, if there is too much stretch, the employee is likely to feel incompetent and frustrated, with their confidence and performance being adversely impacted as a result. It is the role of the manager to help the employee identify the degree of stretch currently being experienced by the employee through open inquiry and discussion.
With a clear understanding of current levels of stretch, the manager and employee can then co-create new goals that raise or lower the degree of stretch to a point where the employee is feeling challenged and engaged, but not overwhelmed. This ongoing calibration of stretch will keep the employee's confidence, commitment and contribution high, resulting in strong business results and sustainable career success.
References: Chua, A. (2011). Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. New York: Penguin Press
James is co-developer of the Strengthscope Profiling Suite, a world leader that has multiple applications across the full employee lifecycle. Strengthscope is one of theTalent Tools productivity enhancement tools we use to turn talent into performance.
To discover and unleash your strengths or those of your employees, contact us today.