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Using CliftonStrengths to Make Measurable Life Changes

Using CliftonStrengths to Make Measurable Life Changes

by Tim Simon
Using CliftonStrengths to Make Measurable Life Changes

Don Clifton, who introduced CliftonStrengths to the world, taught me and so many others about the connection between strength and relationship. He said nothing happens until someone expects something of you in ways you can achieve. CliftonStrengths, combined with great coaching, is a proven way to help clients achieve success in simple but powerful ways.

Our research shows that when individuals know and use their strengths, it can be linked concretely to measurable outcomes such as productivity, profitability and customer metrics.

The key for strengths coaches is to help move clients past knowing their talents on the report to actually using their talents as strengths. It is difficult to turn our talents into strengths if we can't find ways to measure achievement relating to performance. The reason Gallup says everybody needs a coach is just that: Too many people have identified their talents but have failed to change their awareness, let alone their behavior. And you don't get to increases in productivity if you don't do something differently. Excellent coaching can assist clients to see that just one or two simple interventions can lead to achievement that relates to measurable outcomes.

In many of our Gallup strengths courses, we provide a coaching format called an Individual Development Plan. While the title may invoke visions of a detailed document with multiple pages, it is actually quite simple. I have used this plan with students and work associates, including during times when I was not employed at Gallup. The plan follows the "Name it, Claim it, Aim it" model. The foundation of the plan is based on the person's talents. It's simple. It works.

First, partner with your clients and have them come up with a goal or objective. It can be a short- or a long-term goal or objective. I like working with short-term goals to help clients experience success quickly. Whatever the goal or objective, you may want to use the SMART method -- goals or objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound.

Next, ask your clients to "Name it" by picking out two or three of their dominant talents that they believe can help them reach the goal or objective. This may be the most liberating part of the plan. How often have your clients been told to "be more strategic," to "work faster," and so on? There are many ways to accomplish the same task using various talents. For example, I recently taught a Gallup class and gave all the participants the same goal (Goal: Between February 1 and June 1, 2019, I will take and successfully pass the Gallup Certification Examination). 27 individuals can accomplish the same goal or objective in 27 different ways!

Then, ask your clients to "Claim it." Have them write out two or three important or crucial insights about each theme of talent that resonate with them. For example, I would use my "Focus" to prepare for the examination because the timelines help me stay on track and measure my progress. The key here is that we are not asking clients to claim their talents based on the Gallup talent definitions, but rather, the way they claim these talents.

The final step is extremely important. This is where clients "Aim it" by writing three or four intentional steps to leverage their two or three dominant talents as strengths. If the goal is to complete the Gallup Certification within a specified period, I write that I will use my "Focus" to study for the examination one hour each week between February 1 and April 1, and then complete the examination between April 2-7. I use my "Context" to review what I learned the week before and my "Maximizer" to become more and more competent in the material each week.

Last year, I wrote a blog and quoted Benjamin Franklin: "Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made. What's a Sun-Dial in the shade!" (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1750). Great coaching is helping clients make strengths an integral and natural part of their day-to-day lives. Incorporating the Individual Development Plan into your coaching is a simple but powerful way to move clients from talent to strength in an achievable and measurable format.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Tim Simon's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Learner, Woo, Maximizer, Focus and Arranger.

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