(From Gallup Management Journal) — Companies spend millions training and developing their employees. But does it really pay off? Sure, such investments can enhance skills and boost effectiveness and innovation. But far too often, leaders and managers overlook a crucial element: complementing employees’ knowledge, skills, and experience by maximizing the power of their innate talents. Toward a strengths-based solution Not everyone can excel at a particular task, regardless of training and effort. Though training can help people improve, most employees won’t achieve excellence performing a task unless their talents make them naturally inclined to perform that task at excellence in the first place. Gallup research shows that people who know and use their strengths — and the companies they work for — tend to be better performers. In a study of 65,672 employees, Gallup found that workers who received strengths feedback had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than for employees who received no feedback (controlling for job type and tenure). Moreover, a study of 530 work units with productivity data found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback. And a Gallup study of 469 business units ranging from retail stores to large manufacturing facilities found that units with managers who received strengths feedback showed 8.9% greater profitability post-intervention relative to units in which the manager received no feedback. Companies that want to boost productivity and innovation must help employees apply their natural abilities to the day-to-day requirements of their role. Implementing a strengths-based approach often demands a fresh mindset; the old ways won’t do. The questions below can help employees figure out how they can best apply their talents in their role — and can help managers and leaders learn how to use a strengths-based approach to boost company performance. Read more.