Business Strategies

Maximizing Key Strengths = Maximizing Growth
by Harold Montgomery

   How well do you know your own strengths and the strengths of those with whom you work? Are they matched correctly to their jobs? Do they add up to the strengths your company needs? How important is that understanding anyway? Well, in a word, it's everything when it comes to creating a successful small company.
   How many times have you seen a good salesman get promoted to sales manager only to fail? Everyone loses in this case, production goes down, the promoted salesman becomes demoralized and leaves, and the remaining salespeople lack leadership. The skills required to be a successful salesperson and those required to be a manager are not the same at all, and it's a mistake to assume they are.
   Many ISO's are small businesses � under 50 employees. Everyday, in small companies, we all wear a number of different hats. The premium is on getting the job done and often tasks fall to those who are around at the moment, rather than those who are best suited for the job at hand. But, how do you match skills with tasks when the company is small and there are just a few people around to handle all the various jobs?
   First, you have to know the strengths of the team you have. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and fast way to determine each person's key strengths. A new book by leaders from the Gallup Organization, Now Discover Your Strengths, provides a listing of the 34 key strengths which Gallup identified through over 2 million interviews in successful organizations.
   Here's the great, fast way to make sure your key strengths and those of your staff mesh with the challenges your organization faces now and in the future:

Buy the book.

   Read about the 34 strengths (at least, the rest of the book is great, too.) Think about the challenges your organization faces, and rank the top 12 strengths your company needs to meet those challenges. It's also a great idea to get a dispassionate third party to do this with you as well, to provide an objective benchmark � you may be too close to the issues. Ask your key staffers to do the same. The combination of all these assessments will give you a pretty good picture of what strengths your organization needs from a balanced perspective.

  • You, and each of your key staffers complete the Gallup Organization's Strengthsfinders assessment tool on the internet. It takes about 10 minutes and yields instant, reliable results. The cost is the price of the book for each person who takes the test, about $30, tax included.
  • Compare the results of step #1 with the strengths assessments of the organization as a whole (that is, all the individuals added together). This step will immediately reveal whether you have a balanced team with the right strengths addressing the issues your company faces.
  • Match the strengths of each person against the requirements of their individual job. Are they correctly placed with respect to what they are good at? Or do you have a square peg in a round hole? One or two skill mismatches in a small company can mean stagnation. Three or more can mean lingering death.

   Matching skills and job descriptions means you have the best people focused on their area of strengths. That in turn means a smoothly flowing organization, more efficiency and greater profitability.