A person can only perform from strength…

…one cannot build performance on weakness, let alone on something one cannot do at all. Peter Drucker

I have long been a fan of the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment.  This tool is based on the Gallup organization’s research of thousands of professionals in the workplace.  What Gallup has identified in studying professionals over decades is that there are 34 signature workplace themes that essentially define how we think, what we attend to and what we feel compelled to do on a daily basis.

Recently, a coaching client asked me if I had recommendations for activities on an upcoming retreat with her new team.  Immediately, I suggested the Strengthsfinder for the reason that is an affirming individual assessment and also a strategic teambuilding activity.  In addition, at fourteen dollars and fifty cents, the book along with the online assessment is a great price.

Both as individuals and as a society, there is a tendency to focus on our deficits and what we are lacking in compared to others.   As Marcus Buckingham points out in his video, when our children bring home a report card with some As and Bs and two Ds, we are likely to comment only on the nearly failing grades and overlook the A grades.    We tend to focus on remediating deficits more than we focus on building on and developing strengths.   In my work with clients, I consistently notice the tendency to devalue our own talents; just because something, such as carrying on conversation with strangers at a cocktail party (emblematic of the Woo theme), comes easy to us does not mean it comes easy to another individual.  Too often, individuals are disappointed with their own list of strengths and are looking over their shoulders with envy to the individual who possesses strengths on the opposite side of the spectrum.

I had the opportunity to observe my client’s team as they reported out on their top five themes from the Strengthsfinder.  Each talked about which 1-2 on their list particularly resonated and then had the opportunity to get feedback about which ones stood out to their fellow team members.   The exercise gave the team a new language and frame of reference to understand themselves and one another in a positive light.

In addition, it allowed the team to think about the broader mix of strengths in the group and where the strengths overlapped and complimented one another.  It is helpful to examine the group’s strengths as it relates to the four main buckets of strengths: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic.  Then the team might notice patterns; for example, they might be strong in Strategic and Executing strengths, but weaker in Relationship Building and Influencing strengths.  This particular client will be hiring new team members and can use this data to hire individuals that will balance out the current mix of strengths.  In addition, the current team can use this information to work more collaboratively in ways not foreseen previously.

All in all, the Strengthsfinder tool is low-hanging fruit for any team looking to enhance team member engagement and performance.