If you had to list 3 things that annoy and frustrate you about people you work with or 3 strengths and ways the people you work with add value and contribute to the team, which would be easier for you?
When I ask this question in my Leveraging Strengths for Success Team Seminar, the answer is typically that it’s much easier to find what’s wrong with people than what’s right. This is a mindset that is often found in corporate America but is slowly changing as a strengths based approach becomes more widely used. Many companies look to develop their people by identifying their weaknesses and then design an improvement plan (this approach does not usually excite people to focus on what you’re not good at). Whereas, a strengths based approach focuses on identifying strengths and figuring out a plan to help employees use them more often in their role (this approach does excite people to put your strengths and natural talents to good use). The result with a strengths approach, per Gallup research, is a workforce that has higher engagement, satisfaction, productivity and profitability. Just to clarify, the strengths based approach does not overlook weaknesses but it only focuses on a weakness that gets in the way of your success. So for the sales manager who frequently travels but is not great with travel logistics, she can still be successful in her role by partnering around this weaker area with someone who is good with logistics.
Gallup research also shows that teams who focus on strengths are 12.5% more productive. People also learn faster, work harder and stay longer thereby reducing turnover. As you look for ways to partner, here are some steps to consider:
- Identify your top 5 strengths and understand how they help you be successful in your role (you can take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment to identify your strengths)
- Clarify your goals so you understand what you can contribute and what strengths you need in a partner
- Bring in a partner who complements your strengths and helps to manage around weaknesses
- Brainstorm how the partnership can resolve various challenges and achieve specific goals (different partnerships may be needed to achieve different goals)
Here’s how partnering can be more effective. If you are an Activator, defined by Gallup as people who make things happen by turning thoughts into action, you learn by doing and can be impatient with too much talk and no action. Activators like to walk out of a meeting and jump into action. A potential partner depending on the goal could be someone with Strategic, defined by Gallup as people who create alternative ways to proceed and can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. The strategic person has the ability to see the forest rather than just a single tree. The combination is powerful because you have someone who can move various ideas of a project forward (activator) and a partner who can see the bigger picture and thoughtfully consider the best way to step forward (strategic).
Partnerships become a key strategy as we build effective teams and leverage our strengths. This approach allows us to accomplish key goals that could not have been done alone and partner around any weaker areas. The better you understand your own strengths and what you contribute to your team the more effective your partnerships will be.
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook
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