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Going With the Flow: What It Means to Be "Strengths-Based"

Going With the Flow: What It Means to Be "Strengths-Based"

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 7, Episode 39
  • Join Dean Jones as he addresses your CliftonStrengths questions, including how "flow" is integral to understanding what it means to be "strengths-based."

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Dean Jones, Principal Architect, Global Client Learning Strategy at Gallup. Dean fielded your questions on coaching and CliftonStrengths -- questions including what it means for organizations, leaders, managers and teams to be strengths-based; how a manager can talk about an employee's underperformance in a role from a strengths-based perspective; and coaching employees with few or no talents in one of the four domains of talent.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup campus here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on October 18, 2019. Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you are listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above the live window there on our live page. And that'll take you to the YouTube instance and you can log right into the chat room. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Dean Jones is our host today. Dean is the senior -- is a Senior Learning Expert here at Gallup. Dean, always great to see you on Called to Coach. Welcome back.

Dean Jones 0:54

Thank you. Good to be here.

Jim Collison 0:56

We got a little bold this week and said, Let's ask -- we'll take any questions that you have for you, Dean. So "AMA" is what they call it -- "ask me anything" and we'll be taking your questions live from the chat room. If you're listening to the recorded version, you -- and after the fact, if you have a question for us, send it to us in an email. I mentioned that at the beginning. We don't get enough of those emails at And so if you've got questions, we'd love to have them from you. But Dean, get us started. You probably got a handful or two of questions in through the Facebook group. Where do we want to get started?

Dean Jones 1:28

Yeah, no, one is so cool. I'm watching the chat here today. And we've got a truly global audience today. This is what's really, really cool is we got people -- Patricia from Panama, you know, we've got Ricardo from Venezuela, you know. I'm like it's this is like this is dynamite. Right? I got ... in the UK. We've got Southern California; we got the whole we got Massachusetts. We got the whole world here, right?

Jim Collison 1:53

Is Southern California its owns its own country now?

Dean Jones 1:56

When I lived there, I thought so, or should be. You know, I still miss it. So yeah. So to your point, Jim, sorry to get us started here. One of the cool things -- so Jim and I were talking, and we were talking about, like, what should we do next? Right? Like, what what should we talk about next? The thing that and Jim suggested, why don't we just throw it open and ask people? So we posted something on Facebook, Jim posted something on Facebook and said, Hey, what questions? And so we got some really, really, really cool questions. So what we thought today is that we'd start with some of those questions and comments that we got, right? And read those and then I kind of address some of them. And then, as you guys -- if there's -- if those spark other questions or comments, put those in chat. If you've got questions you've been thinking about that you'd like to ask, put those in chat, and we'll just try to -- we'll go for an hour and just see how many of them we can get through. And so that -- I love this kind of stuff because it's a little free form. I will try not to, you know, I always try to answer questions that I feel like I've got either a point of view on or some expertise in, right? Don't, don't get offended if I don't answer your questions; probably cause I feel like I'm probably not the right person, not the right person to answer it, right? Like I was at the summit, I think it was, I don't think it was not -- I don't think it was this year, I think it was last year. Somebody asked me a question about wellbeing and strengths. And I said, and they said, Can you answer that question? And I said, No, I really should not answer that question.

Jim Collison 3:23

There's like two people at Gallup who could probably answer that.

Dean Jones 3:25

Yeah, yes, exactly. I, like I I'm sure I could say something, but I would be making something up. Right? So anyhow, so just to dive in. So Dallas Lang asked a question, I'm going -- I'm dealing with these in no particular order, OK? So Dallas Lang asked a question. And he said, I love Dean's material, which obviously is a great start for me. Often listen multiple times to let it sink in. Where I personally get a little stuck is wondering when a group of people are becoming or have become strengths based. I'm only a year into coaching, so probably my lack of experience here. In my head, it goes like, wow, what Dean describes sounds amazing. I think the group I'm working with is doing that. Wait, no, they're not. Or are they? I suppose my idea here is to give real-life examples of what being strengths-based looks like, so I can tell how close I am to the goal. I know it's a journey, etc. But looking to know the points on the journey, right? My emphasis is in real life -- stories of a day in the life of a strengths-based team. It can't be that every moment you work, every -- excuse me -- it can't be that every moment at work, you're talking about strengths, right? Unless you work at Gallup maybe. Ha ha ha ha ha. Does that make sense? Perhaps this has been done, right? So I actually love -- so I read this and I, gosh, it -- I was I was looking for the ones right that like get me that's really spark my thinking around it. Or like, really I like will really provoked me, right? So I started -- really what Dallas is asking, and I think is such a great question, and I think so many people have this question is, What does being strengths-based really look like? And what does it mean, really, to be strengths-based, whether you're a strengths-based manager, or a strengths-based leader, or working on a strengths-based team, or in a strengths-based organization? And I think that there's a lot -- I think, I do think there's some confusion around that. Right? So I think oftentimes, and and, you know, I also spent a lot of time training a segment of our salespeople, our business development folks, and it's one of the things that I always emphasize with them is that "strengths-based" doesn't mean I did the assessment, right? Or I know my Top 5. That sometimes it gets flattened out to: Did I do strengths? Or did I do the strengths assessment? Or do I know my Top 5, right?

Jim Collison 4:11

Or maybe the whole organization has done it, right?

Dean Jones 5:54

Or even the whole organization has done it.

Jim Collison 5:55

We have 100% of the people who've taken strengths. Probably not, right?

Dean Jones 5:58

Yeah, right. Well, and you know, It's I you know, when people say, Hey, look, everybody did strengths. I'm always like, first of all, congratulations, because getting people to participate is sometimes no, no easy feat. And so that's great. That is the first step in becoming -- in being really a strengths-based organization. And so I think it gets collapsed so it's about the tool, rather than strengths -- you got to remember really what strengths is about is not about the assessment. It's about what you do with the assessment, right? So it's about the assessment is designed, I always feel like the assessment is, you know, and maybe maybe I read too many Hardy Boys books as a kid, right? But like, you know, in the Hardy Boys books, when you find the treasure map, that's the beginning of the story, not the end of the story, right? You get the treasure map, and then the journey begins to find the treasure, right? And I always feel that strengths is kind of that way, right? You do the assessment to get the treasure map, right? And then it tells you where the dig. And that's the beginning of the journey of digging, right, and unearthing the treasure.

Dean Jones 7:07

So I always feel like like for people we need to help people understand, OK, yeah, that's the beginning of the journey. It tells me where to go, on an individual basis and on a team basis, right? People always think that being strengths-based is the same as talking about strengths, or that talking about strengths is what it means to be strengths-based. And it's kind of like I always think that's funny, because it's always like, you know, it's always a function of self-awareness. You know, like when you're being efficient, right, or you're being effective, you don't -- you're not running around going, "Look at me, I'm efficient! Look how efficient I am! Look at me, this is efficiency! Right? Because if you are thinking that, you're actually not being efficient, right? You're, you're you know, it's there's some meta-conversation about who you are, right? You're not actually in the moment being efficient. You're sort of observing yourself being efficient, right? And the minute that you got -- get kind of thrown out of flow like that, out of the being present to what you're doing, being present, just doing what you do, expressing yourself. Anytime -- when you're in that kind of meta-conversation or that conversation about yourself, or about your own self-awareness, it kind of throws you out of all of that. Right? I always think that the piece of that that's so interesting is if you've read anything about that, Danny Kahneman has read -- that has written about the experiencing self versus the remembering self. You know, this is very useful, you know, when we were building some of our assessments, knowing the difference between the experiencing self versus the remembering self. The experiencing self is more is more accurate, right? If you ask somebody, "Were you strengths-based, or what percentage of the time were you strengths-based yesterday?" People's notion of that will be typically biased or inflated, right, in some way. If you ask people, "Give me -- just talk to me about yesterday and give me specific instances where you used your strengths yesterday, you're more likely to get a get a an accurate answer, right?

Dean Jones 9:13

So I think it's, it's one of those things where, where, in practical terms, as I was thinking about it, the thing that Dallas' comment really sparked for me, is I think that when we're in flow, right, when we're in the moment, when we're present, and we're just being who we are and doing what we do, right, that we're not thinking about strengths; we're just thinking about who I am, who I am, applying and doing and expressing myself fully. Right? And when we're in the moment, it's when we get thrown out of flow, and we're trying to get back into flow. That's the piece where strengths starts to get really useful as a tool, right? So I'm not in flow, right? Something happens that knocks me out of flow, and I'm trying to get back to that point where I'm just expressing myself. I'm just being who I am. I'm present. I'm engaged. I'm just in the doing what I do. I'm doing my Dean thing, right? And but I get knocked out of flow. And I'm trying to figure out, like, what happened? And how do I get back to that point where I'm doing my Dean thing, right? And that's the point where strengths starts to be really useful as a tool, right?

Dean Jones 10:26

That's where I start talking about strengths. Because I'm talking about you know, like, when you're dealing with a conflict at work. So you're, you know, something's working, where you're conflicting with others or there's a conflict between teams, and we got to navigate that conflict. Or when the team is not collaborating as well as we'd like, right? So we all know, hey, we love each other. We're part of a team, but we know, gosh, we're not collaborating very well here. Right? And we want to get back into that flow as a team. So strengths is a useful tool to use for that, right? When when we're engaged in a project or a process or a role that's not a great fit for us. And you know that there's not not a great fit, because it's sort of, I get into flow and I get knocked out; I get into flow and I get knocked out, right? And I know that something's not a great fit here, right? Or something's not happening, but I can't figure out what exactly it is. When we're trying to figure out the best way to do something. So if I say, "Hey, look, I want to I want to be more efficient, or I want to be more effective." Strengths is a great way to do that. It's interesting. So we had our Bentonville [Arkansas, U.S.A.] coaches' meetup last night, so we like we have that we started 5 months ago, I started with this gal Sam Reshel, who works in our Chicago office. We decided, OK, we're we we had all these great coaches in Bentonville. And one of them -- one of the coaches, her name's Brenda Meyer -- fabulous, certified coach, phenomenal human being, said, We should have a coaches' meetup in Bentonville, right? And I was like, yeah, we have a coaches' meetup here, right? Bentonville is the town in Arkansas where I live.

Dean Jones 12:01

And so we have last 5 minutes we've had this coaches meetup and it is so -- it we have between 10 and 20 people that come every time. And the conversation is so great. And this is a shameless plug that if you don't have a coach meetup in your area, you should start one. Cause, you know, there's one that came last night, and she said, "Is this an open group or a closed group?" And she and we said, "This is an open group. Anyone can come." And she said, "What does it cost?" And we said, "Nothing." And she was like, "OK, I'll come." It was super sweet.

Jim Collison 12:40

And they are very easy to start for people, by the way. I'll just I'll throw that plug in. Like Dean, to your point, they don't require permission. You don't have to have a capital investment. You don't have to make a website. Just invite people and start getting together. Drink some wine; enjoy some barbecue. Whatever, whatever is in your area. Just get together and have some conversations. You guys invited me to come and speak at it, virtually. And I came in and you can you can do those kinds of things. So it's a great idea, Dean, thanks for for promoting it.

Dean Jones 13:10

No, it's great. So anyhow, last night, so we were talking about this a little bit last night. And last night, we had a panel of people in organizations that were using strengths, talking about how they use strengths in organizations. And there's this woman that works at Procter and Gamble, who's a strength coach for about 250 people there. So she's the strength coach for a division there, her name is Tanya Weaver. She's phenomenal. She's like, she's one of these strengths coaches that every time I'm with her, I learn something. And she was talking about how when people have conflicts, the first thing she does is say, OK, tell me your Top 5. OK, now you tell me your Top 5. You know, it's the language that helps us get back into, Hey, we're, we're I'm I'm I can -- I'm back in flow. I'm back expressing myself. I'm working; I'm in sync with other people, the team's in sync. It gives us that shared vocabulary for being able to talk about ourselves and be able to talk about others. And it gives us a vocabulary. I always think this is so important. And this is something that I think is so great for you to be emphasizing with the people that you coach and the teams that you work with, is it's a unique vocabulary, in that it's a way of talking about our individual differences in a way that's positive, nonjudgmental, inclusive and yet specific. Right. So it's a positive way to talk about individual differences at a time when the probably the biggest issue in the culture of organizations is diversity and inclusiveness. Right? And people are so concerned about, Am I being respectful and -- and rightly so, by the way, Am I being respectful? Am I being inclusive? That having a shared language that's a safe language for people to be able to talk about individual differences in a way that's respectful and positive and inclusive, and at the same time, very specific to people, that's so powerful, right?

Dean Jones 15:04

So that the strengths really I think the part of being strengths-based is being able to have this lens, right, or this tool to get us back into flow, back into just expressing ourselves and working together. One of the earliest epiphanies for me about what it meant to be a strengths-based manager is I realized I had I had been at Gallup, I'd done tons of personal development work. I'd been doing learning work with thousands of people prior to joining Gallup, right? But when I started about 14 years ago at Gallup, I, and I was I had done I did strengths shortly after I joined. And I was really interested in this notion of what is it to be a strengths-based manager? And I realized that I was I was clear about the language part of it. But the piece that I wasn't clear about that was a huge epiphany was that strengths-based managers don't work on what's wrong with people; they work on what's right with people. I mean, it sounds like the most obvious thing, right? But it's an interesting thing in practical application; a lot of managers are using strengths in a way that's really about weakness-fixing. So it's funny, I think, when you coach managers, and I hope that you all are coaching managers, because I think that's one of the most significant things you can do to shift the culture of an organization is be working with the managers in an organization. But strengths, a lot of managers in the beginning use strengths is a tool to fix weaknesses. You know, there's a problem with your Activator if you're just more patient, and I think we've diagnosed you with a -- with Activator disease, and if we could just fix that Activator disease or, you know, if your Deliberative didn't kick in and put on the brakes on everything, everything would be great, right? And so they're using strengths, but they're using it as a weakness-fixing tool. And, and just so we're clear, weakness-fixing managers are at work on what's wrong with people. Right? And by the way, this doesn't make them bad. You know, so you know, the time-honored traditional way of managing people is to figure out what's wrong with them and fix it.

Dean Jones 17:20

Like, we got decades of, you know what I mean, like, where are your gaps? Where are your developmental gaps and how do I fix those right? But what weakness-fixing managers do is they're at work on people's mistakes, what their failings are, what their deficiencies are, what their developmental gaps are. They're trying to fix people with training. They're trying to fix people with process or with structures. They're trying to fix people with rules. The latest -- honest to God, I see all the time -- is they're trying to fix people with with with feedback. So feedback, they're using, I think that's why feedback has almost become a dirty word sometimes for people is because everybody, every -- you know, the answer for a lot of managers and leaders is, we need to give people more feedback. But the experience that most people have is the feedback felt like -- it felt punitive. And it did nothing to help me increase my performance.

Jim Collison 18:16

Well, and managers are using feedback as an excuse not to say it themselves. Because it's a hard thing to say sometimes when you have to tell somebody like, Hey, we need to, there's some things here that we need to change. And that's hard. And mana -- some -- lot of managers who shouldn't be managers like to avoid that. So they hide behind this feedback mechanism, which, "Well maybe somebody else will say it for me." And that's kind of being a coward.

Dean Jones 18:39

Yeah. And I think there's a lot -- I think, just just in case I get painted into a corner here, I am a proponent of feedback. But I'm a proponent of the feedback that that is positive and how and constructive and helps people to to calibrate their strengths better. "I really saw you doing this well, Jim. And here's specifically what I saw that really worked about what you're doing. And I'd love to see you do more of that." Right. "And when you did this man that really, really, really worked. And one of the things I see is how you did it was so skillful," right? That's feedback that builds a person up and is tied directly to the expression of their talents and strengths. That's powerful for people. Right? So what strengths-based managers do is they're at work on what's right with people. So they're working on investing on developing people's talents into strengths. As a strengths-based manager -- and this is one of the key things I would tell you -- as a strengths-based manager, what I'm doing as a strengths-based manager is shaping my shaping the job around my understanding of the person, right, rather than shaping -- trying to shape the person around my understanding of the job. OK? So I'm at work on the job, not the person. So I'm understanding the person, but I'm not trying to change that person. I'm trying to understand who they are, what their talents are, what their behaviors are. And I'm helping that person to be able to express those in a more powerful, productive way, and then shaping the job around that person.

Dean Jones 20:21

We all that -- all know that no two people in the same job do it the exact same way, right? It's that you can put two salespeople in the exact same job, in the exact same company, in the exact same location. And they are going to do the job in different -- fundamentally different ways, based on their talents and strengths. Right? And great managers are at work on How do I shape that job around somebody's strengths so it continues to be to be powerful? I will tell you, you know, over the last couple years -- 2-3 years, I had the privilege of working closely with our Learning Design team here at Gallup. And, you know, we had a set of like 12 Learning Design consultants who were all basically in the same role. But yet one of the things that was powerful was being able to shape the job around their individual strengths and talents. There's a gentleman that worked in our division who was incredibly talented as a Learning and Design Consultant. And but one of the things that was interesting is, he didn't like working on our standard programs. He -- for him, it was really unfulfilling to sit and work on a program that was going to be disseminated to a broad group of people. He always wanted to work on client on client-specific programs, because he loved the process of sitting with a client, listening to them, understanding their needs, and then coming back and building something that was for them. Right?

Dean Jones 21:43

There's another gentleman that worked on our Learning Design team, who he had -- funny, led with a ton of Learner and Input, right? But loved to be able to understand concepts and translate them into our programs, right? And his joy in life was being able to do that. So he worked on a lot of our standard programs, right? Because he loved being able to just get embedded in the research, understand the concepts, understand how the research came to life, and then bring it to life in a program. Right? There's another woman that worked in our Learning Design team, who, she, she's probably one of the best, one of the most intuitive process people I've ever been around my entire life. Her ability to understand what a process should be and navigate it and help people plug into a process is just was just extraordinary, is just extraordinary. And so it was interesting, because she ended up with a lot of projects that were about -- she she was somebody who was involved a lot in our coaches certification, because she's really talented at being able to do that.

Dean Jones 22:43

Now, these are all people in the same job. But the job gets shaped in unique ways in order to be able to do that. I know -- and by the way, I hear this every time -- people often say to me, yeah, we don't have the same latitude. Right? And it may not be -- I think you gotta, you gotta, you know, on an assembly line in a manufacturing facility, you don't have the latitude to be able to fundamentally shift somebody's job in that way, right? But, but it may be the place in the in the assembly line that you put them, right? Or the additional responsibilities you give them. I also am really sensitive to in union environments, you have to be very careful about this, right? Because in union environments, a lot of that's negotiated -- what somebody does and what we expect of them, right? So I'm clear that it doesn't work necessarily in every single environment, right? But even -- I'm like -- I'm laughing. One time, I was in Reagan National Airport. And I was about 2 hours early for my flight, right? And I sat down at this food stand. It was like a Chinese bun place, right? So I'm sitting at the counter. And of course, it's me. So I'm talking to people, you know, Woo No. 3. I'm talking to people. So I start talking this woman and I start asking this woman about her job. And she starts talking to me about her manager and how much she loves her manager. And she had been at this stand for 4 years. And I said, Boy, that seems like a really long time to be here. And she said, "Yeah." She said, "Most people stay here, you know, most people stay in these kind of stands." She said, "They're lucky if they make it 6 months." And she said, "No, I've been here 4 years. And I want to be here as long as I can." And it was because of her manager, right? And her manager had -- you could see -- and then the manager shows up, right? So I start talking to the manager. And you can see the manager has assigned people in this little stand different responsibilities based on what he knew their talents were, and what they love to do and like that. And it was all a function of just that he had a great relationship with them. And you can see he was really listening to him. I watched him. So I'm sitting there and I'm like, I'm practically like, I've quit my job; I'm now working in the stand with these people, I've moved to D.C. Right? You know, but you know, like, he has a stand-up meeting and I'm listening on this stand-up meeting as he's working with encouraging people and helping people express their talents. It is just the coolest thing. It's just the coolest thing. Right? So ...

Jim Collison 25:09

We had a family, my family, I had a family chat this morning just about managers. It was funny. My my wife was saying, "I got the greatest manager. They're buying pizza for lunch today. This is so great." And my, my daughter said, "Well, your manager doesn't beat my manager because my manager's cooler. She has tattoos!" And then my other -- a couple of my boys were like, "My managers are terrible." And it was just an interesting kind of conversation. Right? That brings up the dialogue of you could really sense the tone and how people felt about their engagement, based on their manager. It was I until you started talking about it, I was like, Wow, we had this conversation as a family this morning.

Dean Jones 25:50


Jim Collison 25:50

And and how important that is, right?

Dean Jones 25:52

Yeah, it sounds so funny. But when we think about our primary relationships in life, one of our primary relationships in life is our manager. And you know, if you get a little psychological, one of the things that we know is, is that everybody is -- all the template for all your relationships is your family of origin, right? So everybody's working out their relationship with their dad, their mom and their siblings all the time. Right? You know, and, but and one of the things -- so you're, you know, you're bringing that to bear, you know, everybody's working it all out. All those childhood incidents, we're all working them out, right? But the it's one of those things was one of those primary relationships in your life and the quality of your life. It's why when you change, change jobs, the most important decision to make is not where am I located? Or what am I going to be paid? But who's my manager going to be? Right? Is this the right manager for me? Is this somebody that that I'm going to have that kind of meaningful relationship with? And as organizations change, so that they're more development developmentally oriented, that it puts even more emphasis on the manager. Right? The great question here, OK, yeah, great.

Jim Collison 27:01

Can we do that one?

Dean Jones 27:02


Jim Collison 27:03

OK, go ahead and read them.

Dean Jones 27:04

You and I are on the same page. You're so cute.

Jim Collison 27:10

Super great. Any specific thoughts on best ways to coach managers with high Restorative to be more -- and -- yeah, go ahead.

Dean Jones 27:18

Yeah, no, I was just going to say, here's the thing. Oh, we went to a different ...

Jim Collison 27:21

No, I'm sorry.

Dean Jones 27:22

Yeah, no problem. So do you have any specific thoughts on best ways to coach managers with high Restorative to be more strengths-focused? Right? So this is, this is a great question. And this is a great question. The thing I would -- just the simple thing is, I so I've known a lot of managers, actually, with high Restorative that are phenomenal managers, right? The thing that you always want to make sure with with managers that are high Restorative, is people are not the problem. Right? So it sounds funny to say, right, is but there but managers with high Restorative that point themselves at removing barriers from people can be the absolute best manager to have, right? Because it's every time I get stuck, every time I get thrown out of flow, right? Every time there's an issue, if I've got a manager that cares, you know, the worst thing sometimes is having managers that don't care about the problems, right? If I have a manager who says, Man, I love problems! I love solving problems! Let me get those barriers out of your way. You know, it's, it's, it's oftentimes a lot worse to have a manager who says, Don't bring me any of the problems, right? You know, solve the problems on your own, you know, but having those high Restorative managers -- the challenge with high Restorative managers is sometimes they think the people are the problem, right? So they go to work on fixing the person like the person is the problem.

Dean Jones 28:43

The person isn't the problem, right? It's either the fit of the person to the environment, a fit of the person to the job, the fit of the person to the team, the fit of the person to the organization. There's, you know, the, you know, there may be an issue, but the person's not a bad person. The person's not the problem. It may be a bad fit. And sometimes, you know, there are times when somebody is just a bad fit and shouldn't be in that job, and they should be in a different job. And you don't have another job for them like that in the organization. And the right thing for them to do is to leave the organization. Right? And but but it doesn't, I think there's ways to do that, that are empowering and respectful. So it's never that the person is left with, I was a problem, you know. And so I think that's, that's, that's powerful.

Jim Collison 29:30

But to Steve, Steve's question here, how, what are best ways to to -- when someone is underperforming in their role, based on whatever standards have been set, how does that conversation go?

Dean Jones 29:41

Yeah, I think one is, you know, we know that the foundation of engagement for somebody is that they're clear about expectations. We also, when we talk about performance, the first thing that in our, you know, we know there's 3 things in the in the domain of performance that you got to get right, right? You got to establish expectations. You got to be equipped to continually coach people, and you have to create a structure of accountability. And accountability doesn't mean punishment. Accountability means we're counting how many you did. And then we're thinking about what's next. Right? So we're doing future-oriented accountability, right? The first piece is establishing expectations. And if there's not clear expectations, oftentimes, sometimes when people are underperforming, the problem is they don't know what's expected of them. Right? And it that always spirals, right, is "I can tell you're not happy with me, Jim. But I don't exactly know why. And I'm doing my best. But I'm not clear why you're not happy with me. And that makes me unhappy and more disengaged," right. So when you, as my manager, sit with me and say, OK, this is what we expect. This is what we expect. And this is where we're at, right? And then being able to look, you got to remember, the only reservoir of that you've got to work with is people -- the reservoir people's talent, right? So to fix something that's not working, you're not going to work with people's deficiencies. You got to work with people's talent, right? Because that's the power -- that's where all the power is. That's where the all the charge is; that's all the the resources that you've got is people's talent. So great managers are the ones that help them -- they understand somebody's talent. And they help people know how to be able to apply their talents in a meaningful way. Right. So the first thing we got to do when it's not working is say, "Let's go back to who you are. So tell me more about your talent." I always think -- I've said this before, but I think this is the this this makes good managers great. Strengths is like the "cheat sheet" for managers -- is when you do strengths, you just automatically make all your managers better, because -- in an organization -- by doing is by knowing their own strengths and knowing the strengths of their people, you're giving them the answers to the test. Right? They don't have to make up what's going on with somebody; they know who that person is. And particularly if you use it as a starting point, then, for the conversations with that person, you start to be able to really understand it. Right?

Jim Collison 32:13

Can I tag on real quick -- tag on John's question? So how does this play out in matrixed organizations? And cause they seem, they seem different. I don't know if they are necessarily that different. But how does that play out?

Dean Jones 32:26

Yeah, John, it's great. I mean, you know, if you've been around Gallup, you know, that we are about as matrixed an organization as you can get, right. Super flat organization. And, and there will be, you know, like Jim Collison is a perfect example, right, let's just start there. You know, Jim's got responsibilities in different areas, and that don't -- that are way outside of the sort of traditional definition of his job, right. And that's not uncommon in high-matrix organizations, where I'm working on a little different projects that have like and I, you know, the manager that's the person that's responsible for my development and my performance, my pay and all those other things, may be only tangentially involved in all the different things that I'm doing. Right. So I in some ways, I have multiple managers inside the organization, because I've got lots of project managers and project leaders that I may be working with in a matrixed organization. The challenge with that is oftentimes, in a matrixed organization, the person who's leading the project may not be a manager, right? So they may not have management talent. They may not have management talent to be able to address things that aren't working. Right. One of the things that I think works very well at Gallup that we do that I suggest to other organizations is, when things aren't working, instead of that team leader or project manager trying to intervene with the person, they go back to the person who's that person's direct manager to work with that. Because hopefully that person who's the direct manager has some management talent or some wherewithal to be able to help that person, you know, fit in a right in the right way.

Dean Jones 34:05

So I think that is very useful, right? Doesn't mean that person should hold back on feedback; doesn't mean that that person should, you know, that we should compromise any of our expectations around this. Right. But the other thing is, I think this is part of the thing I was talking before about job shaping. When you work in a matrixed operating environment, one of the cool things about it is you get opportunities to do a lot of things. Right. And but you want to be strategic about what projects you're working on, and, and how you're assigned to projects. And particularly you want to be working -- you want managers to be working with people to select those projects around what are the ones where I've got unique value, I've got a unique contribution to be able to do that. I literally was just doing this last week with my own manager at Gallup -- is looking at there are three kind of areas that I've been working in -- fundamental core areas, right, and we were looking at those three areas. And it was clear like in one of the areas, I was doing a lot of work, but I don't think the value I was offering was particularly unique value, right? And so one of things I'm phasing out of that particular area so that I can focus in the other areas where I do offer something really unique. And I think that's, I think that's really important.

Jim Collison 35:18

Yeah, I even have a unique role where I'm a manager without directly managing anyone. And so I manage these processes, I manage people indirectly. Which is even more of a challenge when I think about I have to think through the lens of, How do I bring a strengths-based strength-based management approach to someone who isn't directly incented to listen to what I say, in a lot of ways right? And so it requires -- I mean, thank goodness for me 4 or 5 are Influencing themes. And so I just deploy every ounce of influence I have in those teams to get those people to do it, but I have to influence large teams to move or, or individuals to move and do it in a way that is really maximizing their effectiveness -- knowing I don't have any of those, those traditional management things to fall back on. I have to do it 100% through influence. So understanding, knowing how these people are built and put together in the strengths, like you said, "cheat sheet" and man, that is just a great example for managers of saying, I can go see someone's Top 5 and read right away, OK, here's what I need to do to really kind of get the influence and the value out of it. It also gives me great opportunity to recognize people outside of their current management structure. And so, you know, sometimes when it comes from your manager, you're like, OK, well, that's your job, right, to recognize me, that's your job. But when I get the power to be able to recognize people outside of that, that oftentimes carries more weight, more power, because it's not my job to do that necessarily. So those are some -- when we think about matrixed organizations, and we think about folks who aren't directly tied to the teams, the people you put in those roles, I think it's just as important they understand that role as well, that they're there to inspire and direct and to lead. Just because they don't have a direct, straight-line responsibility doesn't let them off the hook.

Dean Jones 37:09

Yeah, that's right on. That's great. Let's knock off -- I'd love to do, I'm looking at the time, I'd love to do a couple more of these, 2, 3 more of these if we could, just because I think there's some we could knock off a little bit. OK. One was Charlotte Blair, my friend Charlotte, asked about what is -- asked about the misapplication of strengths and feedback. Right. And I was looking at it and, you know, I think there's a lot of things that you can you can you can talk about in this area. I was looking, I want to start, we kind of talked about feedback a few minutes ago. I think the -- and address that; I want to talk just more broadly about the misapplication of strengths. And there's some things that I consider kind of warning signs when you're using strengths in, if you will, the wrong way. I think it's hard to -- I was laughing with the, at the coaches' meetup last night. I don't think anybody's ever been damaged by strengths, right? You know what I mean? Like, I think it's hard to hard to damage people with strengths, right? You know what I mean? "You're just too Deliberative, you're just too, you know, Woo-y!" I, but I do think that there's some ways that that there are misapplications of strengths. So let me give you some some common ones, and I would treat these kind of like warning signs, right.

Dean Jones 38:28

One is when people use strengths as a weapon, right? They're using their strengths against you, you know, and sometimes this happens inadvertently; and sometimes this happens really intentionally. It's like, Hey, we can't have you because you're too Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba. Or we really need somebody that's got this there. So it's using strengths really as a weapon with people. And there are times -- sometimes you see people using it as a club to beat people up, right? "You really got to get a handle on your ba, ba, ba, ba, ba ... your Activator." Or your -- whatever it is, right? You got to get it, you really got to handle that; your Includer has become a problem, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? So it's using strengths as a weapon or a club with people. Big warning sign, right? And sometimes, by the way, it's done in a well-meaning way, but it's still a weapon. OK? So even if you mean well, and you want to contribute to that person, you know, it's kind of like, yeah, I beat you down with it anyway. And when people do that, strengths gets a bad name. Right? So it's like, you're using this tool that's supposed to be developmental, and positive and inclusive, and you're using it as a way to really beat people down. Not the right thing.

Dean Jones 39:43

Using strengths as a manipulation is another one is when you see people using strengths to manipulate people. It's like, and and I think sometimes this comes across well-meaning, it's like, well, if I know Jim, and I know his strengths, then I know how to appeal to him. I think that's fine, as long as you're transparent around it. When it starts to feel like it's a manipulation, like, Hey, we're going to really, you know, like, we're going to play this up, you know, so we can really get Jim to do this thing. You know, strengths as a manipulation not not is not -- is really a misapplication of what this is about. It's you do get to see who somebody is, and you do get to work with somebody, but the people that do this in the most, in the most authentic and transparent way, are the ones that say, Look, I know, I know, you're high in Communication and know that's a real gift that you have. And I'd really like to leverage that gift on the work that we're doing together, right? Or, Listen, I know that you have Woo and Significance, right? And we want to put you center stage here, right? We know that you love winning people over and we need that for the team. Right? So I think that authenticity and transparency around that really makes a difference.

Dean Jones 40:49

Another one that comes up a lot. Gosh, again, we were talking about last night, was using strengths as a label. Sometimes, and we say in our guiding principles that themes are not labels, but sometimes It gets, it's like, "Oh, you're this. That makes you this. Like, we all know that." And we know that each expression of each theme is going to be very, very different -- that the themes can contain a lot of patterns of behavior, a lot of traits roll up, aggregate up into those themes. So you can't just use themes like a label or, you know, strengths themes, like a label to label somebody, right?

Dean Jones 41:24

Using strengths for blame or fault. You know, "If you weren't this way or because you're this way, we think that's to blame," right? Not -- that's also a real misapplication, right. And then finally, is using strengths as an excuse -- as an excuse for poor performance or failure or as an excuse not to take on some kind of -- some responsibility that other people are expecting you to have, or failing to fill in some responsibility people are having -- using strengths as an excuse, also a misapplication of strikes. So those are sort of the the ones that you commonly see where, No, that's not what strengths was designed for, right? You know what I mean? We did not design it as the ultimate weapon, you know? Or, or a way to categorize all human beings so we could put them into boxes, right? That's not the intent, right?

Dean Jones 42:17

So, so Judy Bertoto asked this great question -- she said, or asked to talk about tactfully and effectively coaching employees with few or no dominant Relationship Building talents. And I think, Jim, you were just talking about that a minute ago, when you were talking about yourself. I think you've got more than I do. I like I was like, OK, this is a home run for me. Because if you look at my Top 14 themes, I'm basically all Influence, and in my Top 14 themes, I've got, excuse me, one lonely Relationship theme, right? I have Relator No. 5; beyond that, like nothing, right. So I think when you're coaching employees or managers in working with folks that have few Relationship themes, here's some things, I think, to -- here's some guidelines around this, right? One is to know, there's nothing wrong. OK? So sometimes it's like, there's this tendency to deal with the person like they're broken, OK? There's nothing wrong to be able to do that. Right? So, and that is a really, that's an important thing. We all have our conglomerates, it's always the danger of working with the domains for people is that if you don't have a bunch of talents in a particular domain or a bunch of themes in a particular domain, people start to worry, like, Am I broken? Or is there something wrong with me? Or am I lopsided? Or something like that. And, and the other thing is the other thing is when people look and they see themes across all the domains, they like, OK, I won. You know, this is good. I got the lucky ticket. You know what I mean? So yeah, doesn't mean anything.

Jim Collison 43:57

Well, it's it's I'm always interested in how the domains just just destroy people. You know, we spend all this time celebrating uniqueness and focus and all those things that are great about you, and then we bring this domain layer out and people are just ruined. They're like aah! and so as coaches I really want to encourage that those -- with individuals, those domains are just as special as as -- and roles do not own domains. Like, as leaders, I don't have to -- you know, like strategy is not owned by leaders. Like we need leaders with all of those. And so I see this question a lot in Facebook, Dean, as people are like, but they don't have -- and it's such the, like I said, especially destroys coaches sometimes. And it's like, they want to go right to the negative again for it. "I don't -- it's a, it's a deficiency. I'm missing this." No, no, no, you have it here. And so I think it's a great reminder in what you're saying that you're not broken, right?

Dean Jones 44:55

Yeah. And we and the the value of the domains is to know where you're going to tend to rely, right? Doesn't mean you don't have it. Right? I think when you're coaching people, one is you always want to bolster self-awareness. Coaching is about bolstering self-awareness. So the more that person understands, hey, I'm not going to lead with that. I will tell you -- when I did the domains work, this was one of the cool things for me. One of the big epiphanies for me was at was when I looked at my themes, I'd always thought of myself as a people person. And I realized I wasn't so much a people person, as in relationships, I was a people person in terms of influence, right? I'm a big influence person, right? Not a big "get related" person. And it really helped me to be able to see that. So that self-awareness really makes a difference, right? You want to understand how that person does create relationships, because the tendency is is if they're not, you know, they may have a lot of thinking themes and be creating relationships inside the stuff that they're thinking about or dreaming about or reading about or like that. It may be that they're a big Execution person, and they're creating relationships inside of the projects that they do. Right? They may be a big Influence person.

Dean Jones 46:07

And, you know, like, I used to tell people for a while, like, Listen, I don't really have friends, I have comrades, right? Because I'm always, with my Influencing themes, I'm always out to make something happen. And the people that are my closest friends are the people that like to make something happen with me. Right? And so, and I have lots of great close friends. But my close friends know this about me, right? Is that, that I'm happiest in our friendship when we're working together on something, right? Or when we're making a difference or making something happen with people. So I think you want to understand how that person does create relationships, right? The other piece you want to be able to do is get up under the contribution or value that that person brings. Right? A couple of the strategies for people that don't have Relationship themes: One is the time-honored thing of having a partner, right. So one of my best partners, one of my best partners for the last 14 years has been our Chief Marketing Officer, Shari. Shari is incredibly talented. And she -- one of the things she leads with, one of the things she leads with, she's got a lot of Harmony, but she's also got a lot of Includer, right? And so she's great about being able to understand who people are, what's happening, take the temperature of stuff. You know, I always laugh because Harmony's my No. 34. I think that I always think that was growing up in a big family. You know what I mean? But I do know there are big families where there's lots of consensus. But, you know, Shari's always been a great partner for me to be able to say, oh, here, here's the temperature right? Now let's do. And I was I was a great partner for her because I was always the first one that said, Great, let's take this on. Right?

Jim Collison 47:44

She's our Theme Thursday, by the way, Theme Thursday, Season [1] Harmony is Shari Theer.

Dean Jones 47:49

Oh, no way! Oh that's great!

Jim Collison 47:50

You bet. So if you want to go back and see it and learn from her, that's a great one to go to.

Dean Jones 47:54

Yeah, some of my best partners literally of all time have been high in Harmony. The other thing, I think that helps is to a system, right. And sometimes I think we think of a system in different ways. But I would create a system that draws on people's reservoir of strengths, right? You want systems that are going to, that are going to help them -- that are going to help them but are, are tuned in to what are the strengths they're going to use to be able to manage this? So like, for instance, if a person is high in Learner and Input, you know, you should help them with, Hey, what questions should you ask people? Right? So give them questions. It's one of the things that we do with managers all the time, is, hey, use your Learner and Input but point that at the people, right. And so they -- and here's some questions you could ask. Right? And generally you start them with questions, they can come up with some more questions. If you -- if somebody's high in Strategic, right, help them know, what's the outline of the conversation going to look like? So what's that pathway for the conversation? Or what's the structure of the conversation? You know, they may not intuitively be able to follow the conversation or like that, or have a have a sense of it. But if you give them the sense of what the conversation should sort of look like, that helps kind of shape it.

Dean Jones 49:09

Somebody that's Analytical is helping that person understand what are the components of an effective conversation? Or what causes, what creates an effective conversation with somebody? So you can, you can tap into their strengths to help them in a way that's systemic, right, but you got to be tuned in first to what are what are the strengths that they're leaning into, to know, How do you help them to be able to do that, to be able to build to build relationships in that way? Right. And it's a challenge, you know. You know, sometimes you want to make sure -- for me, you know, one of the things, I lean into my Relator all the time. If I have to go do a meeting with a bunch of people, and they I know that we're going to have conflict or disagreement or there's going to be issues, typically I try to -- one of the one of my strategies is I get people one on one, because I'm just better one on one. So I'd rather -- I'll sit down with them, I'll understand them, I'll have the conversation with them one on one, so that I'm walking into the meeting because I can't sit in the meeting and read all of them -- read how they're feeling, right? I know how to win them over (Woo), but I don't know necessarily how to read them in the meeting. So if I've had the chance to use my Relator before the meeting, that's really helpful for me. Right. OK, do, Jim, do we have time for one more?

Jim Collison 50:24

Let's do one more. Yeah, we'll need to make it quick. But let's do one more.

Dean Jones 50:27

OK, so, so let's do Cheryl Pace's, my friend Cheryl. My K.C. pal. OK. She said, my suggestion is hear more about how we help noncertified coaches be coaches for their direct reports -- the "boss to coach" concept, right? So yeah, so I'd love to just I'm going to just talk about this briefly. I'm going to -- Jim, I'm going to do 3 minutes on this. OK? I'm gonna give you the best 3 minutes I got and then we'll call it. OK? So one of the things you got to remember is that we know that managers have the most have the most disproportionate impact in an organization. So if we're going to look at one constituency, like, one thing that people always ask me, you know, because I'm a learning guy, right, is where should I focus my development dollars? I always say focus on your managers, right? Because you're going to have the biggest impact on culture and organization by focusing on managers, right? The other thing you got to remember is that the tool that managers have at their disposal are conversations. So what -- the thing that managers do, like, you think about what managers do that is going to have an impact. It's having conversations. Having conversations with team members; having conversations with the team as a whole; having conversations with other managers and other people inside the organization that facilitate the work getting done. Right. So skillful conversations are what we want managers to be able to have. We want them we want to increase their effectiveness with conversations.

Dean Jones 51:53

We know that great conversations have 3 components and we know it's being able to ask great questions. So you're really asking great questions. Are you able to listen and listen in a way that you can individualize? Right? So we know that one of the characteristics, probably the principal characteristic, of great managers is their ability to individualize, to be able to know this person's unique, and to be able to shape the job and the environment around that person's unique talents. Right? So when I'm listening, as a manager, I'm not just listening so that person experiences being heard. I'm -- all -- I should do that. But in addition to that, I want to be listening so I'm thinking about, How is this person unique? How is this person -- how am I going to shape the job and the projects and the role? And how am I going to coach this person relative to their individual talents, right? And then the last piece, so 1) asking great questions; 2) listening to individualize; and the third 3) is taking action. That out of that, that the person has actions, they have an opening for action. And for me as the manager I've got an opening, opening for action, right. So if I go have conversations with my manager, and then nothing changes, I'm going to be frustrated, right? So I want to go have conversations with my manager. And then things happen as a result of that. Right?

Dean Jones 53:10

So we know that that's the we know that's what great managers do is that the in those conversations is ask great questions; listen to individualize; and take action. The challenge I've found is not that managers sometimes don't know they should be a coach, but they don't know how to make the transition from where they are now to being a coach. So for a lot of managers, they're like, Look, I've just told people what to do. And I wasn't very interested. And, you know, I wasn't very interested. And I know I should be more interested. But I just haven't been. And I think it's going to be weird for people if I show up one day and say, "I'm your coach." You know, like they're all going to run for the hills. Right. So I think the coaching that we've given people is first of all, they've got to start to build a relationship where they're actually interested in in those people. So it starts with having conversations about who that person is. And I, you know, there's a guide -- I should have hold held this up, I always I've held it up by the other thing. We sell this thing called the Individual Conversations Guide. We also teach it in our Leading High-Performance Teams course. It is a terrific guide with 30 questions that managers can ask to get to know somebody. Right. And it's quite -- some of the kind of questions are, What are your talents and strengths? Tell me what you think your talents are? What are your strengths? What motivates you? What's motivating for you? One of the killer questions that we came up with years ago, is What does your best day at work look like? What does your best day at work look like? What are the things that you're naturally drawn to? One of the things I always like to ask is How do you organize your work? Tell me about your day and how you like to go about your day. Because it gives me access to how somebody structures their work, how they think about their work. A great one is How do you like to be recognized? The the guy that I work for at Gallup right now, his name's Phil Ruhlman, he leads several of our divisions of the company. And, you know, I told him years ago how I like to be recognized. And he's remembered it all these years. Right? And it's, it's always so meaningful. You know, one of my, one of the best things for me is personal notes, right? And man, he's remembered it. And it's always so meaningful when I get a note from him.

Dean Jones 55:25

Asking people, what are your goals, right? What impact do you want to have in your job? You know, so you've got to know those things so you can start to shape that that person's experience. That's the beginning of a coach. Coaching is always, and I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, but coaching is always based on a foundation of relationship. If you don't have a relationship, you can't coach. So we train coaches, if you're going to coach somebody, go build a foundation of relationship. I always think about it like the foundation to a house, right. The bigger the foundation, the bigger house you can build, right? So you got a little foundation, you can only build a little house, right? So you got to build this big foundation of relationship, you know, and part of it is just getting to know somebody and really listening. You know, for me it helps to take notes. I love just writing all that stuff down because then it helps me to capture it -- I feel it find that I retain it better. Right. And I think that as we said before, strengths makes managers just smarter and more insightful. Right. It's really the "cheat sheet" to the thing. So I took more than 3 minutes, Jim, let me throw it back to you here and we can wrap it up.

Jim Collison 56:31

No, that's great. I did post a link in the chat to the Individual Conversation reorder, you can buy those in packets from us if you if you want to get that done -- a really well put-together book. And when I was managing people directly, Dean, I loved to have those with -- Steve Allen had mentioned like having baseball cards for your employees that have the key stats in them. I found those books helpful for me. I am not, even though I have Relator (No.) 9, I don't always remember all the details, and having a booklet to come back to -- I could make my own but it was just easy. We just have them right. So just having them on hand, being able to write down, write in the name of the person down, go back and review it if I need to. I found that to be really really, really helpful to me. And I've got a lot of Relationship Building themes. So there's, there's one of those things that, you know, I just I find your advice, write it down, take some notes, do something that where you can come back to it. I find that to be really, really helpful. Dean, anything else you'd add before we go?

Dean Jones 56:33
Yeah, it's just funny. Sometimes people are hesitant to take notes. And but I will tell you it -- writing things down tells people that you care. When you stop to capture it, it's a way of communicating, "I care about what you're saying to me."

Jim Collison 57:46

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available on our brand new Gallup Access platform. You can get access to that out on our new website, new address: Tons of -- by the way, brand-new resources on this site as well. We had some individuals do some incredible work in that area, and like there -- I always get asked, "Hey, is there a one-pager on strengths?" There is now! We have one out there for you. Right? "Hey, what's the history of CliftonStrengths?" Guess what: We have it for you! It's in the tab called History -- really easy to find. Lots of great information in the in the migration. I think a lot of folks missed all the resources we have available for them out there in our "ton." If you have not gone through our CliftonStrengths site, you might want to. Of course, I'll remind you in the Facebook groups as well, if you're asking me those questions. If you do have any questions that you need an answer to right away, send us an email: You can also catch all the recorded audio and video of this program and all the past: Join us over on our YouTube channel. Just go CliftonStrengths -- pretty easy to remember on YouTube. If you want to search for us there: Gallup webcasts -- in any webcast player, Android, iPhone, whatever you're listening on, it's available there, You can find all our webcasts that are available. If you want to see a complete list of courses available for any of the learning, including our "boss to coach" training that is out there, you can get that: If you want to join us in our Facebook group, just And if that was too much, just hit "pause." You can go back and play it again. Want to thank you for joining us today -- I always enjoy these times, Dean, I always enjoy spending time with you and I appreciate you and all that you do for the coaches. We'll do it again next time. Thanks for coming out. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Dean Jones' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator.

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

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