Strengths: The Key to Higher Productivity, Effectiveness, Employee Engagement, & Joy!
What is your favorite day of the work-week? Do you fall into the TGIF crowd, or do you race into work Mondays with newfound enthusiasm? What about your co-workers, employees, or boss?
This may not be the most scientific question to determine engagement, but it is a shortcut to think about how you feel about going to work. Gallup argues from their data that if you prefer Mondays, or are fully engaged at work, you are likely to be working in your strengths. (Strengths-Based Leadership By Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup Press, 2008))
Of the many skills you learn with Resilience Training, self-awareness is one of the anchors. A significant component of self-awareness is knowing your strengths. Learning your strengths, then learning how to engineer your days and your teams around your strengths is key to living your best self both at work and home. In addition, according to Gallup, it is the key to engagement.
The unfortunate truth is that most of our professional feedback mechanisms (annual reviews, performance reviews, etc.) usually focus on the areas in which we fall short. While this feedback is sometimes necessary, it generally leaves people feeling frustrated, upset and at times hopeless. We respond defensively to negative feedback, and thrive with positive reinforcement. Due to another cognitive bias (negativity bias), we are four times more likely to remember negative feedback, failures, problems than the positives in our lives. The gratitude exercises from the previous article are critical, but just as important to understand and exercise daily, are our strengths.
My favorite strength survey is called the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, and it is a questionnaire about the 24 universal values evident in all cultures. The outcome lists in order the top five to seven values named “Signature Strengths”. How do we know we’re exercising a strength? One indicator is that we are continually refilling our own cup. When engrossed in one of our Signature Strengths, we do not need breaks, to be supervised, nor does it require extraordinary effort. It feels completely natural, how we feel at our best.
What would you think if Pete Carroll decided to make Russell Wilson the right guard next season? Total madness. As leaders, we need to learn how to identify strengths in others, and then task organize our efforts aligned with our teams’ individual strengths.
Understanding our strengths can help us build capacity for those times we need to demonstrate efforts outside of our wheelhouse, our weaknesses. If self-regulation is not a strength, then we do not want to feel depleted when we drive by fast-food alley. However, we can build our own energy and capacity by engaging in our Signature Strengths before the time we need to self-regulate, creating our own power reserves to resist the temptation.
Below are two places in which you can help identify your strengths:
Values in Action: http://www.viacharacter.org/
Article in Harvard Business Review (HBR): https://hbr.org/2005/01/how-to-play-to-your-strengths
If you’d like to see your team race to work Mondays with enthusiasm as opposed to cutting out of work early on Friday to celebrate ‘working for the weekend’, contact us for help in understanding and identifying strengths as well as other Resilience skills.
Read part 1 of this three-part blog series here titled “Unleashing Our Inner Strength”
Read part 2 of this three-part blog series here titled “Five Practices to Develop Gratitude and Become More Resilient”