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Amanda Duggan


Managing Director

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Why you need to treat your people as mini organisations


People as mini organisations

Achieving business success can never be described as a chance occurrence.

Organisations have to work hard to succeed. They exist and, importantly, thrive when they have identified their unique selling points (USPs) and, as a general rule, invested in making those USPs outstanding by maximising their potential.

It is that USP that has made all the difference in the marketplace and, more importantly, in the eyes of the customer.

However, speak to any organisation and the chances are you will hear very quickly that something else is central to success. Countless business updates, annual reports, news of industry accreditations and award wins, in fact any external update that relates to business performance will usually be quick to cite the role staff have played.

“The business is nothing without its people”; “this wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our staff”. The list of examples could go on.

So, in order to safeguard prolonged, if not greater, success, it clearly makes sense to take care of and work with those that drive the business and its USPs forward.

Taking the logic and the correlation between a ‘developed’ USP and the central role of the employee, there is a strong argument to suggest that businesses should in fact look at their own people as ‘mini organisations’.

Put simply, developing your employees’ USPs in turn allows them to make more of a difference in their own marketplace; in this instance, your business.

And aside from the positive impact on your own organisation, this approach has the added benefit of allowing you to nurture and retain talent. Staff retention is an expensive business and something many organisations do unfortunately neglect, with attrition costs estimated to be equivalent to one and a half years’ salary, consisting of recruitment, training and productivity.

There is, therefore, a compelling case for implementing procedures that both drive performance and encourage staff loyalty, with the success of both positively impacting your bottom line.

Developing the muscle, training the talent

It’s a myth that the most ‘well rounded’ succeed. The best organisations will realise the best people are not necessarily ‘well rounded’. It is about maximising the talent and strengths of the individuals in your business and providing the environment for them to work as part of a functional and successful team. 

Research undertaken by Gallup recognised that studying success provides much more useful information than studying failure. The research unveiled that a powerful set of traits or strengths can be observed, to some degree or other, in everyone. It is here that we can begin to view an individual’s strengths as similar to the USP of a business. The traits are just that, they are unique.

Out of the 34 traits researchers identified, only one in 248,000 people will share the exact top five in the same order (a number that increases to one in 33 million if you were to match all 34).

If someone has a natural talent, doesn’t it make sense for them to invest time and learn skills to develop the talent into a strength?  Businesses should be encouraging their talented employees to deliver extraordinary performance by doing more of what they are good at, whilst of course managing any areas of weakness.

Knowing the natural talents of an individual provides a template for focused opportunities to develop these into strengths, thereby maximising each person’s ability to produce results. In simple terms a talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving) becomes a strength (the ability to consistently produce near perfect performance) but only if there is an investment in practice, development and knowledge.

It is initially about a person becoming aware of their strengths and why they get satisfaction from certain elements of their job.  It does provide a guide as to why some things come naturally whilst other aspects seem really hard to do.

What’s the business impact?

Because repairing our weaknesses does not provide a good return on the investment, why interfere and try to patch up a weakness when you could be releasing energy and talent, thereby driving an individual’s engagement with the business? Gallup recommends that we ‘maximise strengths and manage weaknesses’, the premise of strengths-based leadership.

Becoming more knowledgeable about their strengths provides a number of positive outcomes for the individual. Firstly, it helps with self-awareness, which we know is a part of becoming more emotionally intelligent, and secondly, it provides a more positive starting point for discussions in helping determine where personal development is best focused or how a person’s strengths might be better deployed within the organisation.

The benefit of the organisation or manager knowing this information is that it enables them to use each individual’s strengths as and when appropriate, and make conscious and positive decisions about productivity rather than random choices. And of course this can be applied to teams, enabling individuals in the team to understand each other’s strengths and thereby maximise team performance by utilising the skills more effectively.

Ultimately it allows your mini organisations to drive the success of the big one.

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Amanda Duggan

Managing Director

Read more from Amanda Duggan

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