When asked in an interview, “What are your top 3 strengths and weaknesses?”, how many of you have inwardly groaned at this useless question? Everyone (even the interviewer) knows that the responses are prepared, perfunctory, and lean a little much towards brown-nosing.
If you’re like me, you know you have weaknesses, but you choose to focus on your strengths.
Despite any weaknesses, improvements can still be made – i.e. increased productivity or increased revenue – without investing too much time in the areas where you might see a minimal progression.
When a business focuses on employee strengths, this empowers workers, while the opposite disenfranchises them.
A 2002 research study surveyed 19,000 managers and employees and found that when employee strengths were emphasized during performance reviews, employee performance increased by 36%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, performance decreased by 27% when weaknesses were emphasized.
A more recent study by Gallup found that a focus on strengths-based feedback improved productivity by 12.5% and overall company performance by 8.9%.
Let’s take this a step further and apply this research to businesses.
Businesses have different functions, and some functions – i.e. product development or operations – are the star performers within the company. These departments have a history of excellence and people naturally want to work in them.
Conversely, some departments continually struggle. Maybe they don’t get enough resources. Maybe they can’t recruit the star performers. Whatever the reason, they just never seem to knock it out of the ballpark.
This is a situation where, much like an individual focused on his/her strengths, businesses need to take a hard look at outsourcing their areas of weakness.
There are certainly reasons to consider outsourcing. In fact, if you classify the types of work performed at any given company, they can fall into one of five different categories:
- Competitive: Work that creates sustainable competitive advantage and distinctiveness.
- Competitive Enabling: Work that leverages competitive work. It directly enables the competitive process.
- Business Essential: Work that must be done; essential to the organization.
- Compliance: Work that is done to manage legal risk to the organization.
- Non-Essential: Work that no longer adds value to the organization and should be eliminated.
If the work is competitive or competitive enabling, by all means, continue with those functions in-house. But when you consider business essential (think accounting or highly technical work) and compliance (GDPR, anyone?), these are areas where businesses should think of possible outsourcing options.
It may seem unusual to consider outsourcing functions that have historically been kept in-house, like sales and marketing. However, with the increase in sales and marketing technology every year adding to the difficulty to keep great employees, it’s well worth taking a look.
We recently wrote about this topic in the 2018 Sales Performance Report, recently released by the prestigious publication The Times. Click here to get your free copy of this impactful, executive report.