What research tells us is that the focus of this feedback should be to build on existing strengths. Instead, managers are more likely to focus on weaknesses than strengths, and they’re frequently likely not to have a dialogue on either strengths or weaknesses (i.e., essentially ignoring a person) rather than talk about either strengths or weaknesses.
Author and researcher Tom Rath, who champions strength-based leadership, conducted a survey in 2004 to discover how a manager influences employee engagement or disengagement. From the results come these statistics: the chances of becoming actively disengaged were 40% if the manager ignored the employee; that figure shrank to 22% if the manager focused on the employee’s weaknesses, and it dropped to 1% when the manager focused on the employee’s strengths.
Similarly, numerous researchers have found that people who use theifr strengths at work perform better, have greater energy and higher self-esteem, are more engaged at work, experience less stress, and remain longer with their employers.
This strength-based approach seems counterintuitive to conventional wisdom about identifying weaknesses and correcting them. Time is often spent on trying to improve weak performance rather than directing effort at getting the best out of people. Unless a weakness is detrimental to success, it is better to leverage a person’s strengths because it produces better outcomes.
The problem is that the majority of salespeople are not always aware of their strengths. If asked, they often have a hard time articulating the competencies that they perform best. For sales managers, that task is even harder, as they have a team of sales professionals that they need to coach on a regular basis. The good news is that there are several sales assessment tools that sales managers can use to clearly identify and understand the strengths of their people.
An online predictive sales assessment helps sales managers make sure that they have the right people in the right roles, both in their current salesforce and when recruiting new salespeople. Sales assessments allow participants to complete a thorough questionnaire that evaluates behaviors and motivators that drive success. The actuarial science behind the sales assessment identifies behaviors that are accurate predictors of performance, which enables sales managers to increase productivity by matching salespeople to roles that best fit their strengths.
Sales assessments should be tailored to the specific company, based on sales skills that have been identified as most critical to success within each role. With this kind of predictive sales assessment, it’s possible to get an accurate description of a salesperson’s work approach and motivational needs, along with strengths. People like to use their strengths; it focuses and energizes them. Then, it’s up to the sales manager to coach the salesperson with consistent and ongoing feedback, focusing on their strengths.
That’s the clear and simple way to have the best impact on effective teamwork, employee engagement, talent retention, and productivity for the individual, the team, and the overall company.