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Strengths-Based Employee Development and Coaching Research Paper

Human resource development has multiple positive outcomes, including the improvement of the quality of work (Cooper & Woods, 2016), job satisfaction (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016), and job success (Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014). Different techniques of employee development exist, and one of them is based on the determination of the strengths of employees. This document is going to examine the decision-making process for the development of employees with different strengths and seek to make conclusions on the possible strategies for strength-based employee management.

Description of Strengths

A strength is a specific feature of an employee (their trait, emotional or intellectual ability, specific behavior, and so on) that they are naturally good at, and that can be employed with positive outcomes (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016).

The development of strengths and their use is beneficial predominantly for employees because such activities improve their well-being and performance; however, a manager can also use employees’ strengths to the benefit of a company (Buckingham & Clifton, 2013; Meyers & Woerkom, 2016). Strengths-based approaches to employee development are used in various settings; for example, they can be utilized for teachers (Cooper & Woods, 2016), marketing specialists (Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014), and others (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016).

People typically find it difficult to determine their personal strengths; as a result, various approaches to the process exist, including tests and questionnaires, feedback from different people, and personal reflections (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016; Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014). For example, the creators of the StrenghtsFinder tool Buckingham and Clifton (2013) offer thirty-four themes, which can be viewed as strengths that may be exploited by an employee or their manager or leader to foster employee development.

This paper is going to use two of these themes; in particular, it will consider a person who is strong in the competition (“competitor”) and a person who is strong at including people (“include”). It must be noted that Buckingham and Clifton (2013) suggest determining at least five prevalent strengths in employees rather than using just one of them to make decisions. However, the process of decision-making is generally the same, which is why only two strengths will be used as examples in this paper.

Decision-Making Process

Buckingham and Clifton (2013) suggest that the determination of the strengths of employees is a good foundation for their development. The strengths should be determined and analyzed for the features that they enable. The authors recommend focusing on the skills that employees would be interested in having and capable of using effectively. For instance, an included can be successful in leadership; also, this person would be willing to get engaged in diversity management because their principal aim is to make every team member feel included (Buckingham & Clifton, 2013; Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014).

Moreover, Buckingham and Clifton (2013) imply that strengths can determine the experiences that may facilitate the development of employees. For example, a competitor needs an opportunity to compete and win, which is why the forms of training and management that involve games or competitions can be especially attractive for this person.

Having determined the strengths and methods of their development and employment, the manager can proceed to make plans on the development itself (Buckingham & Clifton, 2013). For example, the possible scenarios for the two persons would include devising team training sessions with the focus on teamwork in the case of the included and on competition in the case of the competitor. Naturally, the choice of the other team members should also be aligned with their strengths.

Managing Employees with Different Strengths

Buckingham and Clifton (2013) highlight the fact that strengths can determine certain preferences in management style and activities. For example, a competitor is well-motivated by being compared to other people; a version of such comparison is publicly available performance records (Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014). However, Buckingham and Clifton (2013) warn against excessive public comparisons since people who do not share this strength are unlikely to be motivated by them and can be demotivated in certain cases. As a result, it is better to use this method if the comparison occurs between the people who are similarly strong in competitiveness.

Also, Buckingham and Clifton (2013) mention that the discussion of a competitor’s talents can motivate him or her to grow in various areas, which is a good opportunity for the promotion of strength-based development. However, Buckingham and Clifton (2013) warn that a competitor can get very demotivated by a failure, which may be viewed as a slight drawback of the strength.

Similar suggestions can be made for an included as well. An included is less interested in winning but wants to promote the spirit of the team in his or her coworkers (Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014). As a result, the opportunity for teamwork and the encouragement of leadership activities can be used as motivation techniques for an included. It is noteworthy that, according to Buckingham and Clifton (2013), and included may be more interested in developing others than himself or herself. This feature can be viewed as a drawback of the strength and might slightly complicate the process of includes’ development.

The above-mentioned information provides some guidelines on the interaction with the employees, and some suggestions can help to alleviate the drawbacks of their strengths. For example, when working with a competitor who has just lost a form of competition, it may be helpful to highlight their talent and suggest a direction for its improvement. The acknowledgment of the fields that a competitor excels in can help to motivate him or her; also, it provides support to him or her in a difficult situation, which should improve their well-being (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016). Finally, this approach offers an opportunity for self-reflection, which is also necessary for ongoing development (Cooper & Woods, 2016).

On the other hand, when managing an included who is not very interested in self-development, the scenario of their development could include approaching them with the suggestion to receive a certain leadership position with the requirement of completing a form of training on the topic. This solution would motivate an included while providing them with the opportunity to develop and preparing a new leader for the company, which is a beneficial outcome (Meyers & Woerkom, 2016).


The analysis of the strength-based approach to employee development allows making the following conclusions. The process of employee development that is based on strengths begins by determining the strengths of the employees in question. The process is not very simple, but there exist many tools and approaches that can facilitate it. Having ascertained the strengths, a manager is supposed to analyze them to determine the activities that can help to develop and employ them. Moreover, strengths can suggest certain managerial approaches and guide the process of managing the employees beyond their development.

Using the examples of the included and competitor, this paper demonstrates that different approaches may be required to customize the management of employees with different strengths. However, such customization is beneficial and would be expected to enhance employees’ performance and well-being, which is eventually advantageous for their organizations.


Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. (2013). Now, Discover Your Strengths. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

Cooper, L., & Woods, K. (2016). . Educational Psychology in Practice, 33(1), 31-49. Web.

Meyers, M., & van Woerkom, M. (2016). . Journal of Happiness Studies, 18(3), 671-689. Web.

Tomkovick, C., & Swanson, S. (2014). . Marketing Education Review, 24(3), 197-212. Web.

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