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Diverse strengths: make the most of your people’s USPs

Posted: 25th August 2015

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Every individual in your organisation has their own set of skills, strengths and insights. How do you work with them to maximise the positive impact for your business?

From speaking Cantonese to understanding the motivations of specific consumer groups, every member of every organisation possesses a different and unique blend of strengths and skills that help them to stand out. Excellent management of these skills and insights can be the thing that sets a business apart from its competitors, that makes employees feel happy and appreciated and that allows individuals’ unique selling points to become a part of the whole organisation’s USP.  An organisation should never treat its staff as interchangeable, attempting to mould them into a hypothetical ‘ideal employee’ template. We asked Investors in People how to make the most of the broad range of talents, interests and motivations in your organisation, to turn your people’s USPs into business USPs too.

Individual – but fitting in

You don’t want to create robots.  You want each individual to feel that they contribute in their own individual way with their own talents.  Organisations with high levels of staff retention do so by nurturing an atmosphere in which difference is celebrated: the whole organisation’s values permeate through the culture and people learn from each other. Diverse perspectives can be invaluable for problem solving, as well as understanding different markets’ unique needs.  The key thing is that the organisation’s overall ethos is clearly defined and that it’s applied not just outwards, to its customers, but also inwards, to its staff – whose strengths will become apparent through a robust, two-way appraisals procedure. If you’re defining a set of values and, from there, coming up with some competencies against which you performance manage people, then you’re not expecting homogeneity. You’re asking each individual to see how they fit in, in their own way.

Ensuring values have real value

Every organisation has buzzwords of the ‘inspire, innovate, empower’ variety.  They’ve usually been picked as a crystallisation of what it is that the company sees at the heart of its ethos and the way it would like to be perceived.  Work is put into the external face of the company, ensuring that it incorporates these values into its customer-facing role, that they’re included on the website and in literature, and are circulated to staff too. But this should only be the start of the process.  The next step for business leaders is to turn that around to look inside the organisation.  If you make certain commitments to your customers, then why would you treat your own people differently?

How do your brand values really translate every day to how your people behave, with customers and each other? And while it’s useful to agree on examples of your values in action as a reference point for everyone, your values and behaviours should still allow space for individual difference and interpretation in line with individual skills, experiences and ‘USPs’.

Drawing on Strengths

Any enlightened organisation will seek to find an approach that draws out and appreciates people’s strengths and individuality.  The variety and difference of the talents, experience, interests, personalities and passions of the people who make up your organisation should be seen as an opportunity to fulfil employees and help your business stand out Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers recently showed that British organisations are losing £42 billion a year through a failure to retain key staff: anything that keeps people happily committed to your workplace has to be a good thing for workers and customers alike.  An appreciation of what makes each of your people unique and an understanding of how you can encourage them to shine at work is an excellent place to start.

Ready to get started?

Making your people’s strengths part of your business’s strength is a great idea for everyone.  However, knowing where to start can be a challenge, and this is where our courses can help.

Michelle Sutton is an Investors in People Specialist and is currently  supporting many business leaders to grow their businesses through building high performance across their teams.  She is delivering a number of courses in partnership with the Edinburgh Chamber – The next course in on ‘Managing Change – Enabling Organisational Transformation’ on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th of October. Follow this link for further information and to book.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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