Ability Management: a modern approach to management

Dr. Albert E. Frieder speaking in interview
Dr. Albert E. Frieder, CEO of the international Foundation MyHandicap, explains what exactly means Ability Management. (Photo: MyHandicap)

Ability Management is an approach that focuses on developing the competences of the employees. This concept is of great significance in regard to how successful an enterprise is. Instead of eliminating weaknesses or deficits, focus should be put on the strengths and capacities of the employee.

Due to an increasing awareness towards managing disability in the workplace, Ability Management has gained in importance over the last few years. Dr. Albert E. Frieder, CEO of the international foundation MyHandicap and Advisory Board Member at the CDI (Centre for Disability and Integration at the University of St-Gallen), explains to us what Ability Management exactly means.

MyHandicap (MyH): Mr. Frieder, what does Ability Management exactly mean?

Dr. Albert E. Frieder (AF): Ability Management means effectively developing and using the strengths and capacities of individuals. Responsible Leadership consists mainly of Ability Management.

MyH: How should we think of an “Ability Manager”?

AF: There is no “Ability Manager” per se. Employees from all levels can become ability managers.

Ability Management focuses on the strengths of the employees

MyH: How do we distinguish Ability Management from Disability Management?

AF: Ability Management focuses on the strengths whereas Disability Management emphasizes the deficits. Although it is important to be aware of the “weaknesses" of our employees, this should not be meant as a way to sanction or eliminate them, but rather to compensate them.

MyH: Which changes can be brought about through Ability Management?

AF: Ability Management brings about an increase in performance, rapidly and at all levels, and leads to better results, in other words to success. At the same time, this is accompanied by a decrease in burnout and turnover rates. It is not the actual activity or profession which brings satisfaction, but rather the positive results derived from it.

Dr. Albert E. Frieder speaking in interview
Through concrete examples, Dr. Albert E. Frieder explains the concept of Ability Management. (Photo: MyHandicap)

More success thanks to Ability Management

MyH: What does Ability Management represent in our society?

AF: Every good teacher knows that as soon as a pupil needs private tutoring, his strong subjects will begin to go down. However, focusing on the strengths will bring better results in the strong subjects as well as improve the performance in the supposedly weaker subjects. Nevertheless, parents and teachers keep sending children to private tutoring. In just the same way, employers still invest enormous sums in further education programs and try to make a successful salesman out of a brilliant engineer, with the results that we know.

Underused potential

MyH: Which potential do you see in Ability Management?

AF: Whether in the field of politics, economy or sports, there are great expectations for constantly achieving better results, and this at a faster rate. There remains little or no time for recuperation. Every successful manager has made Responsible Leadership along with Ability Management a part of his work attitude.

MyH: Are there any concrete examples of successful Ability Management?

AF: Everyone who has learnt, at work, at school or in sports, to focus on the strengths of the people, actually practices Ability Management. Many of us dispose of much more potential than what we actually use. In the meantime, managers waste their time by sanctioning deficits and unfulfilled goals. In the same way, many associations for the disabled people focus too much on the disability rather than developing the competences of their members in order for them to be recognised and valued within society and their profession. The Foundation MyHandicap and the Centre for Disability and Integration at the University of St-Gallen stand for Responsible Leadership and Ability Management. They contribute to integrate this approach to management into the fields of economy, politics, studies and sports.

MyH: Mr Frieder, we thank you for this interview.


Text: S. Müller - 01/2013

Translation: C. Fontaine 01/2013