Unlock the Power of Training to Employees’ Strengths

Shep Hyken, master of customer service
Shep Hyken, master of customer service

Everyone is different and as a result may have something special to bring to the table. Let them know how their personalities and unique strengths support your organization. Take advantages of these differences.”

– “Embrace Uniqueness of Your Employees,” by Shep Hyken, Shep Hyken’s Customer Service Blog

Could it be that better training results when you train to individual employees’ strengths, not their weaknesses? Could it also be that the best training happens when you get different people to act in different ways – not the same?

Our friend Shep Hyken, a leading expert in the field of customer service training, thinks so. Shep, who presented one of our Breakthough Thinking in Training Webinars last summer, has even created a simple training exercise that allows people to discover and start to use their unique strengths.

We like it and we want to tell you about it. Here’s how he describes his exercise on his blog:

  • Break your training class into small groups of five or six people.
  • Explain that you want each group to assemble a collection of 26 objects – one for each letter of the alphabet. (Examples: A bottle of aspirin for the letter “A,” a book for the letter “B” and so on.) Invite trainees to find the objects in their pockets, purses, or briefcases.
  • Declare a winner when the first group finds all 26 objects.

Big Power in a Little Exercise

Shep points out that this exercise, simple though it may be, teaches some important lessons to trainees:

  • First, they discover that working as a team produces better results than working individually.
  • Second, because instructions are “loose,” trainees come up with unique and highly individual approaches to solving the problem, discover their own strengths, and see that those strengths are valued.
  • Third, individual trainees discover that their very different backgrounds and strengths enabled their teams to come up with superior results.

In other words, the exercise helps trainees discover and accept their individual strengths and also conveys the fact that your organization welcomes and values people as individuals.