Strength-based employee development

June 30, 2022


Many leaders mistakenly look for what’s lacking in an employee’s performance. In most cases, focus is on employees’ weaknesses and training them in those areas, but the end result is mediocre wins.

The question then is what leads to big wins? No doubt that it is investing in each employee’s strengths.

The aim of positive psychology is to rebalance the traditional focus on fixing our gaps, to paying more attention to nurturing our strengths.

This approach can be used in Human Resources Management as organisations seek to bring out the best in their teams to achieve organisational goals.

Last week we focused on Strength based performance management, this week we explore strength-based employee development.

The deficit approach has been widely used because people think they will get more out of someone if they help fix the gaps.

On the contrary research shows that people can grow exponentially out of their strengths. Strength based approaches to employee development aims at helping employees master their strengths and becoming a black belt in activities that they are good at.

A strengths-based approach allows employees to boost their productivity and performance by applying their strengths to their everyday tasks.

As a true leader of employee development, you need to drive transformational change in your business by looking at employee development from a strategic perspective which takes care of the strengths inherent in the employees.

There are two main strength-based approaches in Human Resources management namely: The identify and use approach and the strengths development approach.

The identify and use approach assumes that strengths are individual traits which are consistent across time and situations. As such these talents should be applied in differing contexts.  The process comprises of an identification focus that employs an assessment process to identify what an employee reports as the top strengths. The individual employee is then encouraged to leverage on these strengths in a variety of environments.

The strengths development approach on the other hand entails identification of strengths using psychometric tests which review peak experiences and considers how these strengths can be amplified without becoming derailers.

This process also examines how individual strengths interact with other strengths and how these are aligned with business goals and how to best apply them in a variety of contexts and systems. The focus of this approach is developing and enhancing strengths through coaching.

One such tool that can be used to identify employee strengths is the Gallup strengths finder ( which assists in the talent discovery process by measuring the predictability of patterns of behaviour within individuals.

When correctly used strength-based employee development has several potential benefits including:

λ    Focusing on strengths can help cultivate employee skills allowing them to perform at a higher level.


λ    Strength based approaches will help employees feel recognised for their unique abilities and shows that the employer is investing in them in meaningful ways

λ        Strength based approaches to employee development helps with employee satisfaction and motivation which in turn improves employee engagement and retention

λ Teamwork can be enhanced whilst using strength-based approaches to development as it allows team members to better complement each other when working on projects, leading to less competition and more cooperation.  This strategy ensures that employee efforts are not wasted but are instead collaborative and exponentially more valuable.


Paul Nyausaru is an OD Practitioner and leadership coach. For all your OD interventions and leadership development training you can get in touch with him on WhatsApp/call +263774062756 or Email

Chiedza Kadare is an OD Practitioner. You can get in touch with her on WhatsApp/call +263 77 283 0986 or Email



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