I have been coaching teams for many years – always with a focus on strengths. “What does this team do well and how can you reap the rewards of a strengths-based approach to reach your goals?” is usually my starter for 10 question.
When organisations and managers focus on maximising individuals’ strengths instead of focusing on developing their weaknesses, the result is a happier workplace with higher levels of engagement, motivation and performance. So if ever there was a time to help your people feel more engaged, valued and motivated, it’s now!
Over the last few months, things have changed pace on a daily basis (sometimes many times a day!). We’ve all been working from home, facing new dilemmas and having to work harder, be more resilient, solve problems, pivot, change, learn and be creative.
What I am hearing from my clients is how proud they are of their teams who have demonstrated agility, resilience and a sense of humour along the way. But I’m also hearing that they are tired and their teams are tired.
“A little frayed around the edges with not much left in the tank!” one person said.
This is because we’ve been overplaying our strengths.
What does this mean? Well, our strengths are made up of three different parts:
- Performance: something we’re good at
- Energy: something we’re good at which also gives us energy
- Use: how often we use it
To distinguish a strength from just being something someone is good at, I ask: “do you feel energised when you use this strength?” If the answer is no, it’s likely to be something that they have learned to do well but which leaves them feeling drained or it’s a strength which has been overplayed.
Just last week, I worked with a business owner and her team. She was keen to take some time to refocus on where the business was heading and to make sure her people felt that their contribution mattered.
Before the session, I asked everyone to complete a Strengths Profile.
A Strengths Profile is an online assessment that reveals not only your strengths but your learned behaviours and weaknesses. The profile has a language of its own but basically…
- Realised strengths are the things you are good at that you also enjoy and use often.
- Unrealised strengths are the strengths you enjoy but use less often and have the capacity to play with more.
- Learned behaviours are the things that you have learned to do well but you won’t necessarily enjoy and you will find them draining.
- Weaknesses are things you find hard, don’t enjoy and find them draining.
Using each person’s Strengths Profile as the focus for the session and encouraging some creating thinking and conversation, the session helped the team to gain clarity. It showed that across the board ‘Work Ethic’ was an overplayed strength.
Now this doesn’t mean the team was lazy – far from it – it means that they had been working so hard for so long, that they had lost some balance and when this happens, motivation can dip. So we talked about what might need to change so that the strengths of the team could be maximised.
A few weeks on, the team report feeling more balanced. They are scheduling in some more “fun” team time, including a socially-distanced picnic. The feedback was fabulous:
“The session was really interesting. It was great to get more insight into what makes me tick and what makes everyone else in the team tick too. I would definitely recommend doing this session with Denise.”
So, if you want to know more about developing a strengths-based approach for your team or organisation, please get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org