06 November 2009

Focusing on Strengths not Problems

posted on: myriam-musing.blogspot.com

Whether facilitating a group or developing a learning program, where should we focus the bulk of our attention - areas of strength or areas that fall short of the ideal? Most of us are well conditioned to believe that if we focus on problems and areas requiring improvement, this will actually help us perform better.

The sad truth is that only 32% of workers have the opportunity to do their best. 
(Gallup, US Survey, circa 2007). Research by Professor Emeritus Ron Lippitt (Univ. of Michigan) showed that when work groups focus on problems, two things occur. First they become more depressed, and secondly, they focus their energy on how to avoid pain rather than how to creatively move towards what they desire. As facilitators and instructors, we would do well to heed these learnings and adopt strategies that build on strengths and what's working.

Focusing on the Positive Core

  1. Would you ask people to focus the bulk of their energy and effort on what they do worst as a strategy for highest return on investment? Rather, use Appreciative Inquiry to discover what works and areas of strength, and find ways to transfer these learnings to areas requiring improvement, in order to move towards the desired future.
  2. When we operate from our strengths, we are often in the 'flow' (or for atheletes, the 'zone'). We become more confident, focused, and creative; we lose track of time and are generally inspired to produce better results, faster.
  3. We're happier when we can operate from our strengths, yet according to Gallup only 32% of employees have the opportunity to do so. Imagine the latent potential that can be tapped with more inspired, confident, and powerfully effective people on your team! ,
  4. Focusing on people's strengths benefits the organization and the people who work there. Leverage this power by focusing your facilitation and learning programs so that people can refine and expand their inherent talents and abilities, rather than on the Training painful ‘areas of improvement’.

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