Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance
School of Business and Law / Centre for Innovative Practice
The strength-based approach is promulgated as a management practice that improves individual productivity and performance. This study's purpose is to explore the prospective applicability of the strengths-based approach to managing and developing employees in small businesses. The study focuses on four domains of practice: selection, training, performance evaluation and task assignment.
The study employed semi-structured, face-to-face interviews to obtain data. The units of analysis were managers and employees of small businesses. Eleven managers and 19 employees were interviewed. Data analysis involved thematic analysis with the NVivo 12 software program.
First, the small businesses used a strengths-based approach for employee selection during employees' temporary status of employment and in employee task assignment. However, managers did not employ a strengths-based approach to employee selection during selection interviews, training or performance evaluations. Second, the managers perceived strengths identification as a difficult task. Based on personal observations, they perceived employees' positive character traits, job-related skills and work-related efficiency as employee strengths.
This study informs managers about a potential alternative to the traditional weakness-based management practice. The findings and conceptual arguments suggest that a strengths-based approach can provide a cost-effective alternative to the resource-intensive approaches commonly employed to enhance employee productivity and performance.
The study provides the first empirical evidence on the prospective applicability of the strengths-based approach to small businesses and explores conceptually the suitability of the said approach to this context.
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