I once had a manager tell me that I displayed “too much empathy” towards my team. I chewed on this for a while, before realizing that I was probably in the wrong line of work. Rather than try to suppress this essential part of who I am, I chose to focus on a career that aligned with my strengths, giving me a greater sense of purpose and work satisfaction.
What do people thank you for?
Along this journey to do more of what I love, I came across Live Your Legend, a global community built on the premise that the world would change if we all did work that excited us. (Watch their co-founder, the late Scott Dinsmore’s TEDx Talk on “How to Find Work You Love” if you’re looking to be inspired.)
One of the questions I explored during this time was “What do people thank you for?” Think about it for a moment. If your strengths are your unique gift to the world, there’s a good chance they’ve already been noticed and appreciated by others. Even if you can’t always see them. So what do people thank you for? We all share the same psychological need to be respected, valued, and appreciated. When we play to our strengths we’re creating real value in our own lives and the lives of others.
Around this time, I also started to dig deeper into my StrengthsFinder results and the story my signature themes told about me. Not surprisingly, empathy was one of them. It took a great deal of personal reflection and unpacking of my strengths and capabilities, to do a 180º career change at this point in my life. Was it easy? Not at all. But the renewed sense of purpose and momentum I felt made it worthwhile.
It all starts with a conversation
Of course not everyone can, or needs to, change careers to find their passion and do more of what they love. By creating a strengths culture at work, you’re likely to become more aware of the areas where you can add the greatest value. And when individuals and teams start playing to their strengths, great things begin to happen.
Performance management is shifting to performance development, and, as this happens, more organizations are seeing the value of strengths-based conversations at work. But we still have a long way to go. The latest Gallup research shows that only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do their best work.
So how do we have more strengths conversations at work? Here are five things you can try right now:
• Know your strengths. Take Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment to understand and connect with your innate talents.
• Discover your colleagues’ strengths. Have a reflective conversation about how your different talents can contribute to the purpose of your work.
• Have an open and honest conversation with your manager. Reflect on a recent project you’ve worked on and how underplaying or overplaying your strengths impacted your performance results.
• Offer strengths-based feedback to your team. Try to highlight the strengths a person displays when they execute and excel in their tasks and projects.
• Remind yourself of how your work benefits others. It can be easy to forget the impact you have on people’s lives, especially if the work you’re doing puts you at a distance from the people it benefits.
How digital coaching can help
The reality is that many managers lack the necessary skills and training to have strengths-based conversations with their employees. In large organizations with distributed workforces, time and distance are significant obstacles too.
“This is why we developed StrengthsEngage,” says Patrick Kayton, CEO and co-founder of Cognician. “We realized that the number one barrier to having a strengths-based culture is that people don’t know their own strengths. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder is the first step on this journey, but not the last. Most people who take the assessment are fascinated by the results and eager to learn more. But then life and busyness takes over, and within a few months they struggle to even name their top five signature themes.
“Spaced digital coaching through StrengthsEngage allows learners to reflect deeply on each theme, and they begin to understand how the themes play out in their life, where they might be tripping them up, and where they may be able to get more out of them. By the time a learner has worked through StrengthsEngage, the language of strengths is permanently embedded in their vocabulary.”
Are you interested in creating a strengths-based culture in your organization? Contact us for a free demo of StrengthsEngage and find out how digital coaching can help drive performance development.
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