Many of us spend most of our waking hours at work. We see the same people every day, every week -- sometimes for many years. We share important milestones with our colleagues, rely on them to do quality work, and at times even mimic their habits and their health habits. But do we really know our colleagues? Do we understand, acknowledge or appreciate the value each person brings to a task?
Once I began leading team-focused CliftonStrengths trainings, the results were immediate and pretty remarkable. Many sessions ended with members of the team staying to talk, asking questions to learn more about each other. In every session, multiple participants were amazed at what the report was able to tell them, and how accurate it was.
There are numerous options available when it comes to team-building and team development, but here are a few reasons CliftonStrengths is my favorite:
It's positive. Talents and strengths -- by their very nature -- elicit positive energy because they involve what we do well and what we love to do. In multiple sessions I have led, people have told me, "It was nice to talk about something positive for a change." (The common goal, of course, is to integrate this way of thinking into the culture!)
It's structured. Gallup provides certified coaches with access to an online portal full of easy-to-use, team-building activities and resources, including a slide deck to get started with a team training workshop. I use a variety of Gallup's worksheet activities. I start each one with some time for self-reflection and then ask people to find partners or small groups and to share as much about themselves as they are comfortable doing. The prompts and exercises are thought-provoking and produce natural conversation. People who may feel otherwise inhibited, or who would otherwise be unlikely to speak up and share, are provided a safe and facilitated avenue for communication.
It's backed by data. If you look at my Top 5, you might guess that I am not a data person. You'd be right. But I do love that when I make the case for CliftonStrengths training, there is a lot of great data out there to support the value. Sharing the numbers relating to increased engagement and productivity can help validate your training and get fast buy-in from your group. For instance, I love to share that:
- People who focus on using their strengths are THREE TIMES as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and SIX TIMES as likely to be engaged in their role.*
- People who learn to use their strengths every day have 7.8% greater productivity.**
- Teams with managers who receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability.**
It's inclusive. Themes are neutral (there aren't "bad" or "good" themes to have in your Top 10), and all themes can bring value to a team. By claiming our own individual talent themes, we get to embrace what makes us unique and be celebrated for it. We are celebrating the diversity and inclusion on the team and how that benefits us all.
It has a developmental focus. Whether you use Name It, Claim It, Aim It, the Individual Development Plan, or any number of other team-bonding activities, CliftonStrengths is not just about knowing definitions but how to intentionally use your strengths every day. It is about empowering people to identify and articulate what they love to do and how they contribute. It encourages them to be purposeful with their own development.
It's fun. These fun, team-building activities get people up, moving and sharing. If people play to their strengths, they will begin to incorporate more of what they find fun within their jobs (and there will be a wide array of answers to that).
Find a coach and set up a team training; it's an investment that you will get back tenfold.
*Rath, T. (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press.
**Asplund, J., & Blacksmith, N. (2011, March 1). "Strengthening your company's performance." Gallup Business Journal.
Amy Shuman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Significance and Focus.