Why focusing on your strengths can eradicate your weaknesses

Organisational Development Director

Fav thing about the office

It’s an office full of creative geeks with great banter, what’s not to love!

As a child I wanted to be a ... when I grew up

An actress

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Trash reality TV

Favourite Holiday

Walking in Wales if I am feeling energetic, Crete if I need a rest!

If I had a superpower it would be...

Mind Reading

Describe yourself in three words or less

Fun, nurturing, efficient

An interesting fact about me

My first car was a Humber Sceptre, which started my obsession with cars

Likes

Thai food, long walks with my dog, creating ideas with post it notes!

Favourite Band

I’ll listen to pretty much anything I can sing along to

Karaoke Jam

Islands in the stream, Dolly Parton

What I do at Q2Q:

My role is essentially support Andrew (the MD) with defining the overall business strategy and financial budgeting, then to design and deliver cost effective process and organisational change strategies, managing positive change in support of Q2Q’s future growth plans.

I work with the team to ensure there is continuous organisational performance improvement that is always customer centric, ensuring they are working collaboratively and efficiently, coaching them individually and as a team to bring out their best performance in supporting our customers.

Background and Achievements

The majority of my career has been in the mad world of Fashion, on the planning and operational side. In my previous role as Operations Director for a Heritage Menswear brand, I was responsible for the end to end journey of the product, from range planning, through sourcing, production, quality control, logistics, warehousing and customer service. Some of my key achievements in this role were improving on all delivery and service KPI’s, improving quality performance from 10% rejects to 1%, and delivering a significant number of process improvements across the team, whilst also delivering a saving on costs of 10% on overheads.

• As this role spanned so many disciplines, it enabled me to focus on my true passion, which is process improvement and people development, so my proudest achievement was introducing a Continuous Improvement Project Team to the wider business, bringing a positive change culture based on a combination of ideas including Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus tools. The workshops we developed empowered people to solve problems cross functionally, and considerably improved communication, collaboration and efficiency, whilst making savings to the bottom line. These workshops have formed the basis of the tools I now incorporate into Q2Q, and offer as an additional consultancy service to Q2Q customers.

Hobbies and Interests

Walking with my dog, and eating out with family

All too often, businesses look to ‘fix’ what they perceive as employee weakness. Firms analyse performance, people, and processes in order to identify areas where results aren’t being delivered – wrongly assuming that areas of strong performance are okay, and therefore don’t need any consideration.

Human nature is such that we find it natural to focus on our limitations – and how we might improve or compensate for them – rather than paying attention to developing strengths. It’s easy to see what we aren’t good at, but often it’s challenging to identify what we’re great at. 

However, by focusing on the negatives, over time a lengthy list of ‘business improvements needed’ can emerge, and the resulting projects which seek to tackle this deficit often cause problems within an organisation.

A widely-used tool to measure strengths and weaknesses is often referred to as the ‘current reality chart’. This method lists areas which are key to success, and rates them out of five – zero for not happening at all, and full-marks if they’re totally fabulous. 

Traditionally, the next step would be to examine areas which need to be improved and work out what action is required in order to get the scores higher. However, if a business functions in this way, the impact on a team culture can become very negative over a prolonged period.

The “what isn’t working?” approach can lead to questions around, “what went wrong?” and “who is to blame?”. This attitude can foster a serious blame culture, which soon spirals into employees becoming defensive and silos being created. In time, this can destroy even the most financially successful business.

At Q2Q, we do things a little differently. 

We channel our efforts into looking at the areas that are going well – and analyse why they are flourishing. For example, when we win a new client, part of the onboarding process is to identify any synergies with an existing customer. Then, during our weekly customer review meeting, we’ll ask questions such as:

1)            What strengths are we displaying when dealing with this customer’s issues? 

2)            What processes do we have in place that work well?

3)            What key business problems have we resolved using better IT solutions? 

4)            Who is involved – internally and from the client-side? 

5)            What’s great about how we interact and communicate? 

6)            How have we demonstrated value to this organisation? 

7)            What information have we provided to enable them to better understand their equipment?

By using this approach, we determine the key ingredients of what success looks like, so that we can replicate as much of it as possible for the new customer.

Once the new project is up-and-running, we reflect on everything that went well during the set-up phase. Firstly, we consider what we did well in order to ensure the team dynamic is positive and collaborative from the outset. We then move on to discuss what might have gone better, but by bearing in mind the things which were a resounding success, we are able to use those strengths to unlock how we might improve.

Once areas for potential development are identified, we again look for similar examples on other projects. These identify the vital ingredients needed to optimise our current offering, and apply them to our new customer. 

A positive approach – through focusing on strengths – completely alters the dynamics of a discussion. The team will be far more open to find improvement, as they already feel they have the strengths and methods needed, rather than feeling they are being examined for weaknesses and flaws – or at worst being blamed for problems and having to defend themselves.

I use this method when coaching on a one-to-one basis. By encouraging people to identify and appreciate their strengths – and question how they could apply them in a seemingly unrelated area of perceived weakness – can make a significant difference to their success.

Put simply, use the tools you have at your disposal, and adapt them to fix a problem. By not wasting time worrying about any tools you don’t have, you might find that you don’t even need them in order to get the results you’re looking for.

Whether you’re striving to understand what your IT company should be providing in terms of a holistic approach – or would simply like to understand how to shift the cultural attitude of your own organisation – the kettle is always on a Q2Q HQ, so get in touch with us here.

Why focusing on your strengths can eradicate your weaknesses