Thought Leadership

The Vast Benefits of a Strengths-Based Organization

by David Deitz

A football team wouldn’t draft a quarterback and then try to convert them to a linebacker. A restaurant wouldn’t hire a Michelin chef and then make them perform waiter duties. And it’s doubtful that a Team USA coach would recognize an elite speed sprinter and attempt to transfer them to the swimming team. 

Yet in many industries, including multifamily, organizations hire associates and immediately try to mold them into something that they aren’t. Not only is it counterproductive in most cases, but it also prevents the associate from functioning within their natural abilities and tendencies.  

That’s why some forward-thinking operators are adopting the model of a strengths-based organization. Rather than viewing associates from the perspective of weakness and how to reshape their shortcomings, strengths-based organizations celebrate key attributes and aim to cultivate and maximize them.  

To be clear, this is not to discourage the idea that associates can learn new skills on the job in an effort to expand capabilities. Nor is it designed to constrain those with broader skill sets who enjoy taking on multiple roles. It’s simply a method to further develop an associate’s true niche engrained in their DNA as a person, so they can function within their own exceptionality. 

One approach to a strengths-based organization is outlined in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which utilizes a Gallup study that identifies the top 34 natural strengths all individuals possess. The strengths are then ranked for each individual through an online assessment, which usually takes about 10 or 15 minutes. 

When utilized properly, the strength-based approach often yields immediate dividends. Without trying to mold themselves into something they aren’t—like the quarterback trying to play linebacker—associates are often more enthused, productive and authentic just being themselves.  

Through this approach, organizations can identify key strengths that they are seeking for certain types of associates and specific roles. For instance, at the site level, strengths pertaining to organization and people skills are often highly sought after. At the executive level, a blend of strategy-based strengths complements robust execution and relationship-building qualities. In maintenance, strengths centering on problem solving are often paramount. 

Some organizations use the strengths-finder method only at the corporate level. Others use it across the entire portfolio, including site-level associates. The more it can be utilized, the better chance an organization has to build camaraderie and establish a culture of happy, high-functioning employees. And as the industry is well aware, when associates are happy and operating within their desired skill set—and their individual strengths—they in turn are going to serve residents well.

When this occurs, the individual and the organization will mutually reap the benefits. Each will experience extraordinary productivity and a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment. What an incredible combination for all!

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