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Bringing CliftonStrengths to Your Workplace and Beyond

Bringing CliftonStrengths to Your Workplace and Beyond

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 7, Episode 49
  • Listen as a Gallup-Certified Coach shares her success in bringing CliftonStrengths to three organizations and her efforts to spread strengths beyond the workplace.

Melitta Hardenberg, Head of Learning and Development at SEEK in Australia and New Zealand, and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Melitta has found great success in bringing CliftonStrengths-based interventions to the three organizations at which she's worked, along with a number of other firms. She shares the challenges and rewards of her efforts among employees and leaders, and how she wants to extend strengths implementation beyond the workplace to places like the family.

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 offices here in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as our office in Sydney, Australia, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on December 10, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:23

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're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right up here that you can click on that take you to the YouTube instance. And the chat room is there; just log in -- let us know if you're listening live so we know where you're listening from. If you have questions after the webcast, or you're listening to the recorded version or the podcast version of this, send us an email: Anne Lingafelter is our host today. Anne works as a Learning Solutions Consultant with Gallup out of our Sydney office, and Anne, always great to catch up with you and welcome back to Called to Coach.

Anne Lingafelter 1:06

Yes. Thank you so much, Jim. It's nice to see you back in Omaha after your world travels around to London and doing the live show there. One of these days we'll get you out here in Australia. We're going to wait till the smoke clears, however, from the bushfires before we bring you out because we want to make sure you have the best time. So, anyway, nice to see you back.

Jim Collison 1:25

Good to be back.

Anne Lingafelter 1:25

And Melitta, great to have you on the show. Melitta is from Melbourne, Jim. So I don't know that I've had any guests from Melbourne yet -- maybe one or two. But anyway, great to have Melitta. Melitta Hardenberg is the Head of Learning and Development at SEEK in Australia and New Zealand. She brings over 10 years of experience in the design and delivery of strengths-based interventions within large Aussie organizations. Throughout her career, Melitta has been introducing strengths to organizations in a range of industries, from financial services to the tech sector. Melitta has worked with these organizations to help them navigate the early stages of implementation, including building the business case and facilitating executive stakeholder buy-in and moving organizations beyond introduction and into embedding it within the organizational context.

Anne Lingafelter 2:17

All of those are very important. We're keen to hear you talk about those, Melitta. As a qualified executive coach, and of course, a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Melitta helps leaders and organizations understand, connect and invest in their greatest areas of value, both for themselves and for the teams that they lead. She supports the notion that your greatest area of strength is what makes you feel strong, and it's only when you lean into it can you really achieve greatness. Melitta, I love that, and so will our audience. Welcome to Called to Coach. Why don't you start off by by telling us your Top 5.

Melitta Hardenberg 2:53

Thanks, Anne, thanks for having me. Top 5 is Maximizer, Activator, Achiever, Positivity and Woo -- followed by a bunch of thinking themes after that, yeah.

Anne Lingafelter 3:04

Yeah, fantastic. Have you always sort of been one of those folks who's focused on the Top 10 from the very beginning? I mean, for a while there at Gallup, everyone was just talking Top 5. And then we sort of made the shift and encouraged people to look deeper. Are you somebody who was always sort of there?

Melitta Hardenberg 3:20

I wish I could say I was, but I remember for many years thinking, you didn't really need to go above, you didn't really need to go beyond your Top 5. I thought that added enough value -- until the penny dropped that actually where the value is, is beyond your Top 5. So it was a, it was a really nice realization a few years ago.

Anne Lingafelter 3:39

Yeah, fantastic. So I'd love to hear a bit of context, Melitta, for our audience. If you can just tell a little bit about about where you live and about the organization SEEK that you work for.

Melitta Hardenberg 3:51

Beautiful, so I'm in, I'm in Melbourne, so in Australia, it's one of our capital cities -- about an hour or so from Sydney and I work for SEEK, which is an organization, it's a technology-based company, and we're in the business of a job board. So we advertise. We're a platform that that organizations can post job ads, and we help them find the best fit for purpose. So we've we've been established since the late '90s. So we're about 22 years old as an organization.

Melitta Hardenberg 4:24

We've got about 1,000 employees across Australia and New Zealand. But in the last few years, we've started to go global. So we have a number of different brands under the SEEK banner across the globe. So we operate in about 18 countries. And we've got over about 10,000 employees globally. What I really love about this organization, and I've been here for about 18 months, is a real connection to the purpose. So our purpose is helping every person to have a fulfilling and productive working life and help organizations succeed. So it's something as a learning professional, you can really, you can really be connected to.

Anne Lingafelter 5:04

Yeah, I would imagine so. When I, when I first found out that you guys were doing strengths, I was I was super excited. I was also -- the very first question that came to mind that I wanted to talk to you about is how you connect strengths to employability, because you're looking at, you know, SEEK is connecting people to a job, right? So So I love to think about how potentially strengths could be used for not just your employees, but also for your clients, you know, and starting to understand, well, actually, if people are looking for a job, we can give them a tip about this. And this makes sense too. Has that ever come into your your thinking?

Melitta Hardenberg 5:47

Funny -- funny you say that, in fact, we are starting to think about that. So we've been internally only on our strengths journey for about 15 months. So there's still a lot of learnings to come. We've certainly come a long way as an organization, but still a long way to go. But there's a lot of passion behind it. So twice a year, SEEK conducts a hack, which means that for 3 days, if you're really passionate about something, you can invest deeply in creating solutions. And on a number of occasions in the hack just gone, we had a number of teams that start -- have started to look at how do we take this more broadly? And how do we help candidates across Australia and New Zealand and other markets that we that we operate in, be more able to articulate their strengths, and how does that then feed into employers as they find candidates? How do we help to create a match through the lens of strengths? So we're interested in it; there's still some work to be done about that, but we're certainly starting to be more curious about how we play well in that space.

Anne Lingafelter 6:52

Yeah, I love it. I do a lot of work in education and specifically higher education, and I can't tell you the number of students that I have had come to me, or send me an email and say, I just got my first job. And I talked in my interview about my Top 5, right? And so they get -- it gives them something to really be able to use in that environment. It helps them understand how to answer questions and really put forward their best self and make it clear that they've, it's something they've done some thinking about, and they feel comfortable and confident talking about it, and they know where they can, you know, most easily jump in when they get into a new job. So I'm sure that that's the case for all of us, whether you're a student or not, but I certainly have seen it work in those environments. So I think you're on the right track.

Melitta Hardenberg 7:40

I think so. So it's a bit of watch this space at this point.

Anne Lingafelter 7:43

Yeah, excellent. Well, but I know one of the things that most of our guests are going to want to hear about are the the different journeys that you've been on, implementing strengths into different organizations. But take us back to the beginning, Melitta. How did you first find out about strengths?

Melitta Hardenberg 8:01

Ah, somebody asked me that question not too long ago, and I can't remember how I came across the book and it was one of the original books, Now, Discover Your Strengths. So I think back in 2007, so quite some time ago. And at the time, it had quite a profound effect on me personally. So I was, I was facing a change in careers, and I accepted a role that normally I wouldn't have. But the way the role was written, it was quite aligned to the strengths that came out of the Top 5 strengths report. And I've never looked back. So that was, that was quite a transformation for my career. My career went off in a trajectory that I hadn't yet thought was quite possible, off the result of that. And then, and then when I got an opportunity to talk about it in an organizational context and had the opportunity to start playing around and experimenting, that's where I really started to see the value beyond just myself but in the organizational value.

Anne Lingafelter 9:04

Yeah, excellent. So 3 different organizations that you've worked with. I know when I've heard you talk about this previously, you said that it got progressively quicker, right? Each time that you did it with these different organizations, it got faster.

Melitta Hardenberg 9:20


Anne Lingafelter 9:21

I'd like to know more about it. So if you'll give us the high-level overview, first, of the three different organizations, and then we'll dig down deeper.

Melitta Hardenberg 9:28

Sure. So the first one was in a, it was inside a bank. So quite a large organization, probably about 26,000 employees. And that took about 3 years. I, and I can go into more depth with each of these and then I had an opportunity to join a life insurance company. And that was about 2 1/2, or about 2,000 employees. And that business case, it took about 11 months to get it right and to get the approval and then joining SEEK it was about 5 weeks. So it's taken me about 10 years to work out what's critical when you're building the business case. You think I'd learned a bit quicker, but it's taken me 10 years to work out what are the what are some of the elements to consider in the business case?

Anne Lingafelter 10:15

Well, I don't know. Going from 3 years to 5 weeks is pretty phenomenal. So I -- you know, I think that we all want to know what your magic recipe there was. What, what were the things that you did that that you can attribute to the acceleration -- just looking at the acceleration because, you know, that's also a question for some people would say, Is fast good? You know, that's another, that's another perspective. So what's your take on that?

Melitta Hardenberg 10:46

Look, as -- the hard lesson for me particularly having Activator as my No. 2 two was to slow down, and --which was really hard for an Activator. So my lessons were to really slow down and understand -- I guess it's a bit more measured -- so really exploring, What problem are we trying to solve? I think in the first instance, the one that took me 3 years, I was really excitable about strengths and knew that it was, knew that it was the right solution for many things, but hadn't quite anchored it to what's the one thing that we're trying to solve?

Melitta Hardenberg 11:23

Then, when I moved into the -- had the second opportunity to introduce it to an organization, I was working with a couple of really incredibly smart individuals who were also passionate but equally measured, so we had to figure out what was it -- what was the right fit and how did actually link with some of our other strategic priorities and complement each other and not conflict? So that took quite, we talk about it as months of "in the booth," we had these little booths that we'd go in for all of our thinking and where we tackle dilemmas and just hard stuff. And so we had a lot of, a lot of time in the booth to work out what's the right fit.

Melitta Hardenberg 12:08

And so I think taking that then to being fortunate enough to have a third opportunity to explore what's the right fit for purpose, when I came in to SEEK, there was a clear link up front and then to be really measured in, or what is the right tool and not under the assumption that that CliftonStrengths is the right tool -- it was making the case for, Is it the right tool? So I think it's, for me, it was that intentional flip from here's a solution, let's make it fit, to let's really deeply understand the problem and, and explore what is the right fit for purpose? If it happens to be CliftonStrengths, that's a really wonderful fit.

Anne Lingafelter 12:45

Yeah, excellent, um, lot to dig down into there. I like the idea. I mean, we talk about the "Why" a lot, which is, you know, fit for purpose. You know, why, why are we using this? You know, what's the what, what is the purpose? So we'll talk a bit more about that. But I like I like the fact that you're bringing up -- Is Gallup CliftonStrengths the the right tool? Talk to me about that. Talk about the other tools that you used in those different organizations and why those worked best or better, if that's the case, and then how you knew that this was the right one for SEEK.

Melitta Hardenberg 13:20

Yeah. So there's, there's, there's a few that are common -- that were common in, in both -- in the last two organizations. So Gallup CliftonStrengths was already being used in some pockets our VIA, so Values in Action, was being used. Strengths Profile was another one. And then there's half a dozen other personality profiling or, you know, social styles and, and other diagnostic tools. And so when we looked at what was already being used, what what were our requirements? And in both instances, there are a couple of really key requirements for us. One of those was we needed it to be self-sustainable. In both -- in the last two organizations, they've been really small teams. So the, the number of learning professionals to employee, the ratio was very low. So we didn't, we weren't heavily resourced. So it needed to have enough tools and resources that were widely available that leaders could take if they're really passionate about it.

Melitta Hardenberg 14:26

So the fact that even podcasts like this, books, that was a really big bonus for us that meant that we could achieve scale without a significant investment. More investment would be better, but if we didn't have it, we could still reach scale. So that that was really important.

Melitta Hardenberg 14:45

The second part that was really important in both instances, in the last two instances was probably the connection to what it was measuring. So we love that Gallup is anchored in high performance and that that question of what are the reoccurring patterns of thought, feeling behavior that can be predictive of performance, we really liked that link. And it makes it a tighter connection to when we're talking about using difference to achieve collective performance or using the best of you to aim it at performance, there's a, there was a tighter messaging there, which which felt more right and in an organizational context. That and, and it's, it's just really accessible. So even being able to formulate team grids, and, and, and have leaders on on the platform that could do stuff with it. We loved that level of accessibility. It meant that a small team could really pack a punch in the delivery.

Anne Lingafelter 15:44

Yeah, I like that. That's, that's excellent. So if we go back to the first organization, that was a bank, right? You guys, tell me a bit about that story. Let's just focus on that one for now.

Melitta Hardenberg 15:55

Great. So that took about 3 years. So the, the bank, typically from a developmental perspective, took a deficit-based approach. So let's focus, let's explore what we're not doing well and try and fix those. And I think philosophically, there was a shift coming. When when we were exploring strengths, there was a, there was no objection at a philosophical; it was, we really wanted to explore how we could bring that to life through the tool. Now we were -- I was actually never successful at getting the business case for Gallup Strengths. We went with a different provider in that -- from a cost perspective. That was also before you could access codes online; you still had to purchase a lot of the books back in that time.

Melitta Hardenberg 16:48

So from an accessibility and a scalability, it became a little bit more challenging. But what we were able to do to reach scale -- we didn't have the official signoff at any one point. So we were able to get together about 50 leaders who we knew were really passionate that led through values, that led through influence. They were deeply passionate individuals. And many of them were already taking a strength-based approach in their leadership style. So we were able to get them together for one particular day, and effectively propose a bit of a social movement to look at, How can we collectively sort of lead change by stealth? How can we take a position in the organization and influence and ... ?

Melitta Hardenberg 17:35

So we had them together for a day, and we got some speakers in and rallied around a common cause. In fact, we collectively wrote a breakup letter to break up with weaknesses and declare our passion for strengths. And it was really -- what was really interesting was those 50 leaders then went on to have over 2 1/2 thousand strengths-based conversations in the weeks and months following. And so it wasn't long after that, that we started to see more and more strengths bubble up in different parts of the organization to which we were then able to, because of that influence, we were able to add more strengths-based language into our formal processes, particularly anchored around how we develop and do development and careers with the bank.

Anne Lingafelter 18:24

Excellent. So two questions. First of all, when you were doing that, what kind of role were you in? Were you in an HR space role? And second question is, Those 50 leaders who showed up -- what part of the business were they from? Were they were they managers? Were they, you know, like -- yeah.

Melitta Hardenberg 18:43

Great question. So I was a, I was in learning and development. So I wasn't a manager. I looked after one or two leadership programs as part, as part of that. The leaders that we got together were -- well, I should say, the employees -- they were arranged. Many were people leaders, some were senior, but not all. So we had a framework of behaviors. And these were all people who exemplified the right behaviors in their role, so had been identified for how they go about gaining success. So they'd been identified by their peers as people who really embodied our values and beliefs and behaviors. So they were from all parts of the organization, both client-facing in banking roles, to internal Center of Excellence roles.

Anne Lingafelter 19:33

So they got invited, right? I mean, they were they were, they were picked, hand-picked.

Melitta Hardenberg 19:37


Anne Lingafelter 19:37

And then -- the ones who went out there, you said they did 2 1/2 thousand coaching sessions or something. Were they doing it largely with individual contributors as as some performance conversations or development conversations? What was -- how did they use it?

Melitta Hardenberg 19:54

Great question. Many were anchored to either career or performance conversations. And for those that were leaders, which was a large majority of them, it started out as conversations with their team members. For quite a few of those 50 leaders, they had strengths-based conversations at a collective team, so peer, level. And it kind of rolled from there. For those that were in project roles, they brought it into their project teams and matrix -- matrixed teams. So it sort of showed up in many different ways. But probably the most common was anchored to career and performance conversations.

Anne Lingafelter 20:34

Yeah, excellent. We certainly, we certainly see that with a lot of our clients and and, you know, it's, and you know, we've talked about things before about, you know, how do you bring strengths and weave it into organizations? And we've talked about -- you and I about -- oh, well engagement's a great spot to plug it in, and certainly performance conversations is a great place to plug it in. And so we, you know, we we have some courses and things out there that that we do that people come along to to learn that sort of thing. But what is it about a strengths conversation, or what is it about strengths from your your perspective that allows a difficult performance conversation to take place and be easier? I mean, what what is it about strengths that makes that conversation easier?

Melitta Hardenberg 21:25

I was having a conversation today with a senior leader in the SEEK organization. And she captured it beautifully when she said it's this realization that I now understand their intent. And the intent isn't malice. It's not -- people are not coming from ill intent. And having an understanding of a person's difference in their view and their motivations, to have an insight into that, means you can have a different type of conversation. It means you can explore behaviors perhaps being unproductive or maladaptive, but from a place of deep care, because you're understanding the intention. And I think that that's what we're seeing, particularly here at SEEK, is that people have such an appreciation of that difference that they finally realize, oh, well I'm unique and everyone else is different. And if I -- and so by having a deeper appreciation of that difference, I can now lean into some -- what were potentially still are difficult conversations, but it feels in a much more humane way. Because we're both moving towards the same thing. We just have different perspectives on it.

Anne Lingafelter 22:32

It's so interesting, you know, across industries, across clients, I have this conversation where people say, "I used to think that he did that because he knew it drove me crazy," or "I used to think that he was just trying to be annoying and slow things down on purpose because I like to go fast," or you'd hear these conversations about the friction and the rub that would happen between people. It's exactly what you are -- what your colleague was referring to, isn't it? About just starting to understand, oh, he actually wasn't doing that at me or to me or because of me at all. It was all about the lens through which he sees the world and, and, and that's just and -- it does, it removes that rub that, that you know that feeling that you're being, you know that they're doing it at your -- you know what I mean, trying to ... ?

Melitta Hardenberg 23:19

I had, I had another leader again here here at SEEK not that long ago who said, when we asked this question, What's been the biggest unexpected benefit? And he said, actually, it was for probably people who I had in the, I had neatly tied it away in my mind as underperforming or difficult. And I realized, actually, that they're in the right role and the perspective they they have is right for what I need them to do. I just didn't understand their perspective. And now it's a whole new appreciation for that. And I think, what a great outcome! What a great outcome!

Anne Lingafelter 23:51

Yeah. 100%. That's fantastic. So when we shift from the first organization to the second, what was the biggest learning that you took from the first one? It can be a challenge; it can be something that didn't go well. But what was the the most important learning that you had from organization No. 1?

Melitta Hardenberg 24:09

I think that the learning from that is, even if you're not in a position of authority, you can still instigate change. And so I think the social movement, employing a social movement, concept or theory into instigating change, still stays with me today. And that if we can get a groundswell of momentum, we can still influence change. So that was one lesson. I think, the lesson I got from the second organization was, You really need to make sure you're anchoring it to the, to the "why," and that you've tied that away before you can get really great signoff and buy-in.

Anne Lingafelter 24:50

Yeah, and talk about that a bit more.

Melitta Hardenberg 24:52

Yeah. So we, in this, in the second organization, we'd launched a capability framework. So we had 18 different capabilities or competencies that we expected for high performance across the organization. And that was gaining quite a lot of traction. So at the time that we were talking about strengths, we were really grappling with, is it -- do we add more complexity if we've got a capability framework and a strengths? How does that fit? How do we make it feel easy for the organization in a really coherent way? Those two couldn't be in conflict, because there was so much advocacy behind the organizational competency or capability framework.

Melitta Hardenberg 25:40

And so for us, so I mean we tried to make it fit in several different ways, as you do, well, there's 4 buckets of capabilities. Can we make the 4 domains fit? And, you know, we tried every, until it finally dawned on us that the competence or the capability framework was really what we needed people to do and strengths was the "how." And so when we could really clearly articulate those two things that the capability framework was the paint-by-numbers and strengths was the color in which you inject. And every, everyone's color will look different. But that's OK. And so it wasn't until we finally were able to really clearly articulate how they differentiated but complemented, that's when we could really, hand on heart, say this is the right thing for the organization, in order to both achieve our priority around career, but also around performance.

Anne Lingafelter 26:37

Yeah, I love that. I love the analogy too. Can you, can you give us a specific example of the color and the paint-by-number, the competency and the strengths?

Melitta Hardenberg 26:47

Yeah. So we had, so one of our capabilities was communicate with impact. And in fact, we used to do this activity with each of the intact teams as we were working with them and identify what are a couple of the, the capabilities that were really critical for this function and communicating with impact would often be one of them. And we'd ask everyone to nominate one strength, you know, one or two strengths that could really bring that to life for them and how they did that. And you would see this, you know, flip chart or whiteboard full of different strengths, all showing how they brought communicating the impact to life. And so that really gave us a flavor of, well, there's different ways to communicate with impact, and people can lean on things that are different for them. So I think that was great insight, both for us and the organization and leaves within it.

Anne Lingafelter 27:37

Yeah, excellent. And what about measuring, so how do you -- in the organization No. 1 and organization No. 2, how did you measure any impact? Or did you?

Melitta Hardenberg 27:53

The first one, no, we measured -- this is probably one of my slowest learnings of How do you get -- how do you measure the benefit of something like this? So we we measured a lot of activity in the first organization. So how many strength conversations were we having? In the second, we measured a little bit around engagement, but mostly around participation. So which teams were participating? How did that correspond with some of their engagement measures? It probably wasn't until I was in my current organization that we were really explicit around our career and engagement measures and each line item on our engagement survey, and we're in a position to -- to be really tight in our measures.

Anne Lingafelter 28:46

Yeah. And how, how important do you think that is?

Melitta Hardenberg 28:51

And I talk about this -- blooper reels of implementation, it's the one thing that you intellectually know you need to do. But it's hard, right? I think unless you're in a -- in an organization that has a lot of metrics. So in some sales teams that there's you have access to a lot more metrics. But matters of human interaction can sometimes be difficult to measure. So for me, one of the lessons is it's been one of the most critical areas to get right is in your measures, particularly seeing the difference in how we've been measuring it here at SEEK, to see if we are making an impact or not making an impact. It's the one thing that I would love to continue to get better at is finding different ways to measure or do A/B split testing or really have some great data to show the impact.

Anne Lingafelter 29:46

Yeah. Jim, do you have a ... ?

Jim Collison 29:49

Yeah, let me -- Andrew had jumped in with a question. He says how do you blend whole team strengths learning, leadership development, training, and one-on-one or group-based coaching at SEEK? Is there a rhythm, a structure? Is it more organically? I think we get this question a lot. And I know kind of depends on the organization, but how are you guys kind of blending those, you know, that that learning and leadership development training and such?

Melitta Hardenberg 30:12

Yeah, there's a couple of different ways I can answer that. So maybe if I take, how one of one of the examples of even how we've done strengths, so maybe I can use that as a as an example. And Andrew, if I haven't answered your question in its entirety, please feel free to let me know. So we have both individual and, and leadership development. When we launched strengths at SEEK, it was in the context of careers, so anyone in the organization could sign up to come and explore how to how to drive your own career with strengths being one of those aspects.

Melitta Hardenberg 30:58

Now in saying that, we had about 30% of our 30% of our population go through a career workshop of some sort and and understand about their strengths. And we thought we were actually going really well in relation to -- we were getting great feedback, people were saying really great things about strengths. But when it came time to our engagement survey, which we were all on bated breath, thinking we, we would have shifted the dial on this because of the initial feedback we're getting. But we actually went back 3% and that that hurt. I'll be honest in saying that really hurt. We really thought we were doing a great job.

Melitta Hardenberg 31:41

And what we had to do was actually look at the whole system of how people were developing. So to your point, Andrew around Is it one-on-one, is it team, is it leadership? We did an intentional flip to do -- spend a lot more time learning intact as intact teams. So the leader of the team and all of its members. And and that's been a real learning for us is in that shift because what we were finding individually is when people would come out of the system, they would learn about career and strengths. And then they'd go back into a system that didn't share the same language.

Melitta Hardenberg 32:18

And so when we took everyone through, development became much more around let's, let's develop the whole team and then have a disproportionate amount of support for the leader of that team. So ongoing, they feel better equipped to support their team as they've all gone through. That -- the success of that over the last 15 months has influenced how we are about to or how we've actually started doing all of our leadership development. So we've got a suite of new leadership programs. And we are trialing, we're experimenting with rolling them out completely as intact teams, rather than mixed cohorts of leaders. We're doing it as intact teams because it takes the whole system and encapsulates the context. So hope that answers some of your question. Please feel free to let me know if I've missed the ball.

Anne Lingafelter 33:08

Andrew will know where to find you, I'm sure. So that's, that's great. So I like the -- I like how you're talking about shifting it to intact teams. I remember when we were having an earlier conversation, you talked about implementing strengths, initially, for some folks, led to friction and frustration. Can you talk a bit more about that?

Melitta Hardenberg 33:33

Yeah. So because we put it in our strengths workshop, and we did, you know, as you do as learning professionals, you ask people what they thought of the session, usually on the day or within, within, you know, one or two days, and we were getting really positive feedback. People's insight about strengths, so to understand how they've generated success in the past maybe explains why there would be this disengaged at present. There's such great insight. But the reality was when they'd go to have these conversations with either their leader or their team member, they got blank looks. And sometimes a different philosophy; the leader would come from a different place. So that's great that you've learned about your strengths, but how it developing perhaps looks not right. And that just became -- that -- we found that that created more friction than benefit. So actually, people walked away, saying, well, that's great. I've learned about this, but I can't do anything with it now. There's a lot of blockers. For me, there was more friction points than, than ease. So that in itself was a really big learning.

Anne Lingafelter 34:38

Yeah. And it's interesting because I, I'm not convinced that there is a right pace for everyone. You know, I think that for some organizations, it depends on their size and what their "Why" is and all of that. But for some organizations, it's, it's great just to roll it out and everybody on the same page all at once. And then there's other organizations that it makes a lot more sense to have a pilot in one little pocket and let it grow organically, perhaps bring in, you know, upskill some champions, upskill some managers how to, you know, but then slowly bring it in. But, but I, like you, have also seen cases where it's been like an "us versus them." So those who have the language are in this sort of secret club, and those who do not, you know, are resentful. So it's interesting, you know, how you manage those sorts of things. A lot of it comes down to the internal communication. And and I'd love to know if you've seen any other ways around that in in any of the organizations you've worked with?

Melitta Hardenberg 35:39

Yeah, it's a really, I mean, intact is one way that we have seen work. And I think you're right. So at SEEK, we're really fortunate that we went at pace and it wasn't by design; it was definitely by demand. We -- I think when people get wind of something that seems to be working inside this organization, there's lots of requests for the same thing. So we went from 3% of our organization having engaged with strengths to over 81% in 13 months. So the velocity was quite fast. So -- there wasn't a lot of cases, once we realized that we had to look at intact teams, we quite quickly were able to remove those friction points, because of the velocity that we started working with, with many teams. And in fact, we're about to move into -- in January, we run a pilot in our Asia business, so even cross-regionally, we'll, we'll start to close that gap as well.

Anne Lingafelter 36:36

Yeah, excellent. It's interesting, because I've been with Gallup here in Australia for 5 years, and the issues that our clients talk about around strengths implementation are changing. And it used to be that it was, you know, we, they love it, they take the assessment, then then it sometimes goes in the drawer and they're not sure what to do with it. We don't hear that as much anymore because there's so much information out there now, whether they're position papers or shows like this, or just frankly our Gallup Access technology platform that continues to drip-feed the the the best practice and ways to implement it, so that it's not like you, you know, it's not a one and done, go in and have a course, learn a little bit of something and then you're, you know, up to your own devices.

Anne Lingafelter 37:22

It's not like that at all. There's so much hand holding now. And and the ability to continue to know what strengths is and what it's not because there's so much that's available now through the platform and that sort of thing. So it's very interesting to see that now, the sorts of issues we're hearing from folks like yourself are things like pace and and, you know, and, and what's next? How will we take this to our clients? What will it be? They're much more sophisticated problems and issues than than we used to hear. Have you seen that level of sophistication change on the ground?

Melitta Hardenberg 37:56

Yeah, and I think about the 3 different organizations, and having just being able to navigate the business case, in such a such at pace, and then deliver at pace here at SEEK, and it's very much -- in fact, we were just talking about this probably about 8 weeks ago, which was very much, well, what's next? How do we extend on the implementation? So that we really want to avoid becoming an organization that once did that strengths thing. There's been such a great uptake, but we want to keep referencing it and really embed it across our culture as the new norm. And then look at start, start to work through, well, how does -- how do we then take that beyond just inside the organization?

Anne Lingafelter 38:39

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, look, I see very interesting and creative, innovative ways that my clients are doing that, and and one of them is is really starting to, within the organization, look at employees in a more holistic way, not just regarding their strengths -- and when I say that, I mean, looking at their professional and their personal lives and starting to have conversations with their team members about how they're using strengths in their personal relationships at home, whether that be with their partners, whether that be with their children. And, and because we have so many resources available now around strengths-based parenting, and certainly the ability to do, you know, CliftonStrengths Discovery Workshops with with staff and their their partners, we're starting to see that sort of thing emerge, which is, I don't know how how that sort of thing would flow in the SEEK environment, but it ... working well.

Melitta Hardenberg 39:36

Ah, look, we've got a lot of people, as we call it at SEEK, a lot of people "geeking out" on strengths. And so I think any additional, we often joke about the number of employees who have gone home and shared their strengths reports with their partner to only validate, yep, that is absolutely you, and I'm talking about the blind spots! Not just the benefits. And we're starting to -- we see a lot through our, some of our channels here at SEEK. There's lots of discussion around strengths-based parenting. So as a parent myself, would love to, well, I personally would love to see more of that inside the organization.

Anne Lingafelter 40:16

Well I know this show will be time dated, but for those who are on live and watch it in the next few weeks or months, we are having a public Strengths Based Parenting Train the Trainer course in in Sydney on March the 10th of 2020. So get in touch with us if you're interested in that. That's a very cool way to sort of upscale people to be able to have conversations with other people around how to use their strengths as a parent and to "strengths spot" in their their children. So that's something we're pretty excited about. Jim, have you got another question?

Jim Collison 40:48

No, I was going to add to the fact that when I was in London, I was talking to some coaches and I've -- I heard the same thing being said about it starting to carry over or leak into families. So, you know, they're taking it at work and then -- this was in the context of, I'm finding Theme Thursdays are being now recommended. So they, they get this environment, they get in it -- you'd mentioned podcasts earlier. And then they start taking the podcasts home and they're like, hey, I've got these things you need to listen to, by the way, whether that's partners or children. My adult children have gotten -- my daughter in particular -- have gotten really kind of tied into the system. And she actually kind of requests her friends take this as part of like, hey, if we're going to be friends, I kind of want to know, right?

Jim Collison 41:30

And so I, I love that, but I love to hear, like I love to hear in these organizations, it begins to spread out more than just at work. That that, I think, is a system that, you know, when we think about a strengths-based culture at work, if it's happening at home, it locks it in I think even more that it's not just, Hey, this is a work thing, but this is kind of a life thing and I can practice this or I can I can see this in a partner or in a spouse or with my kids. And maybe some that -- I've said for a long time, Melitta, maybe you can comment on this, I became a really a better manager when I started figuring out how to manage my kids. And I brought that a little bit back to work. And so -- and you were in learning before, you know sometimes those principles kind of hold true, right? And there's just people learn and grow. We here at Gallup, you know, we require as an onboarding item that they actually listened to Theme Thursdays. Around strengths, have, are you doing some onboarding techniques to kind of get them integrated in early and maybe fast?

Melitta Hardenberg 42:37

Great question. Just last Wednesday was the first time, because we're now at a process where we want to really embed it across the culture, so it becomes the new norm. Last Wednesday was the first time it was introduced to our company induction, so any new employee that comes into the organization has an opportunity to learn about their strengths but also explore from our beliefs and attributes, how do their strengths -- how do their strengths help bring those beliefs and attributes to life through through that? And then what for new leaders who come to SEEK or who are promoted into leadership, we have a 9-month coaching program to help leaders really transition from boss to coach, and strengths is now part of that vernacular. So we're -- which was only as of last month. So we're still early in that but super excited.

Jim Collison 43:31

I love to hear you say on leadership and we're taking them from boss to coach. That has become a phrase that I'm hearing, we're hearing more and more in that. We -- what's been ironic and we know it's working when I get you know, when I have a new employee who's been here, maybe 4 weeks, who will say, Oh, hey, I know you, and, and, you know, I watched it, OK, that's a good indication that OK, our onboarding is working. They're actually doing these things. And these, you know, especially Season 5 of Theme Thursday, they're 20 minutes maybe. And so they can get through their Top 5 and in less than an hour or an hour and a half or so. And so that has that part is we're -- good, good to hear. I think that's a great opportunity for organizations to kind of inject the strengths and increase the velocity at which learning can happen by these some of these tools we have available for folks just to listen to it.

Melitta Hardenberg 44:24

And I think where we know some of that is working, is when we have leaders say, Hey, I've got this new team member, how do I get a new team grid so that we can have a conversation collectively about the change in dynamic with with the new team member? So we'd love to get to a point where leaders know how to do that themselves. But I think to start to see that is a good indication.

Jim Collison 44:46

You know, from from an L&D perspective, though, if the leaders are asking for that new team grid, it does give a great opportunity for L&D to know when things are happening there and to be able to maybe add some advice or be able to add some coaching into that process so it's, you know, it's it's nice -- the self-service concept is nice, but it is kind of a good indicator I think sometimes to go, Oh, they're doing, they're doing things over there! Let's, let's let's kind of make sure there's -- they have all the tools that they need. They've got all the opportunities to get that done, so.

Melitta Hardenberg 45:16

Yeah, yeah, we had a -- one of our embedded coaches. What was really nice for me was about 7, 8 months into our journey, one of our embedded coaches and I -- and my little team, we, we were heavily involved in every team grid, so we could see on Gallup Access in all the different teams and I remember one day going in saying, There's about 15 new team grids in here and I have had nothing to do with it. So it's wonderful to see different departments just take it and own it and make it fit for purpose for them in their own context. Now that to me is really exciting.

Jim Collison 45:49

That's, that's really good to hear. Anne, I'll throw back to you for just a few. We have a few minutes more.

Anne Lingafelter 45:54

Yeah, absolutely. Um, look, I think that that when you bring it in, we talk at Gallup about always onboarding. And so when you bring, when you bring it in at the beginning, then you have that foundation that you can absolutely accelerate the on the other conversations that need to take place. But one of the things that I also see as working, and this is both with clients that measure engagement with us and those that don't, the Q12 framework, just purely as a coaching framework for managers to have with their people is absolutely fantastic when you're using strengths as well. Because it is, you know, in the busy world of managers, they, they really have to be able to focus their limited time on certain things. And so we see how how strengths couples so well with that framework, but it also, you know, you have folks whose jobs will morph over time, right? You get hired to do this, and then you know, 6 months later, suddenly, you know, things have shifted, and, and you need to be able to continue to have those conversations. And and I think that that framework is, is super powerful in that, in that combination with with strengths. Before we, before we have to bring this show to a close, I'm very keen for you to talk a little bit about your strengths study tour, because I love that idea. And if you wouldn't mind just letting folks know about that.

Melitta Hardenberg 47:16

Sure. And I think that was born out of curiosity. When I got to SEEK and we were exploring what what is the journey for SEEK, what's right for SEEK? We wanted to explore what other organizations were doing around the philosophy of strengths, and how it was helping them achieve strategic priorities. And so we were fortunate enough to get ourselves invited along, I suppose you could say in a nice way, to a university here in Melbourne who's using strengths quite a lot to help them with student success.

Melitta Hardenberg 47:52

So off the back of that, we then tapped on the shoulder of another organization. And so that's just steamrolled. So for the last 15 months, we, about every 4 or 5 months, we tour a different organization here in Melbourne, that are using the using the philosophy of strengths to achieve a strategic priority. And so we SEEK hosted the last one. And we've been doing a little knock on the door of a few more for next year. So some great organizations doing really wonderful things. And what I think's great about that, is there's just such generosity of sharing, that people are really open to share what's working, what's not, what would I do differently next time? And where did I trip up? What, what led to the success and and how do we learn from each other? There's just such generosity of spirit in the learning community here in Melbourne. So if you're interested, drop me a line, love to either invite you along or come into your organization.

Anne Lingafelter 48:52

And I think that's one of those things that makes perfect sense for -- Jim, for us, our whole global strengths audience to be borrowing and stealing or what have you and implementing themselves. Because, you know, I mean that's really, at a smaller scale -- or a larger scale, I should say -- that's what we do with the at the Gallup at Work summit. And that's what we do at the Transforming Workplace Culture summit, right? Is we bring in all these folks who are going to tell their story but to be able to do it in the smaller scale more frequently is -- would be a great thing as well so yeah, love that and love that you're doing that, and I think we should copy it here in Sydney too, and perhaps other places as well. So before we, Jim, one more question we have enough time for it, yeah?

Jim Collison 49:36


Anne Lingafelter 49:37

I'd love to know, Melitta, any resources that you -- that are "Go Tos" for you -- things that you find that you love to bring in together with strengths. Whether it's a podcast you listen to or another, you know, anything. Any, any resources that you find really helpful in what you're doing with strengths?

Melitta Hardenberg 49:58

Ooh, I love all of the podcasts, particularly the Theme Thursday podcast. But we -- so in it, actually in our workshop that we've done for all -- I think for about the 600 people that have been through intact teams, we have, we share a couple of resources. One is the Theme Thursday. And there's lots of commentary on our channels about that, but also the books. So we -- Strengths Based Parenting -- as a parent of two young children, that's been really wonderful. And Strengths Based Leadership. So there are a couple of "Go Tos" for us. One of the Go Tos that is less of a resource and more of a challenge that we have adopted here at SEEK is, we call it "Caught in the Act." So after every team has gone through a strengths intervention, they have 30 days. They have to pick one person in the room, and they have 30 days to watch that person and one of their strengths play out and add value. And they have to provide feedback to that person of what they observed and the impact that it had. And that's been wildly successful. Just practice that habit of noticing strengths in others, and where it adds value.

Anne Lingafelter 51:09

And how do you communicate that across the business once once they've done that?

Melitta Hardenberg 51:13

Yeah, so we work with a leader on that. So because it's intact teams, the leader will either monitor the activity or 30 days later has an event where they come back together and everybody has to share who they picked and the feedback they have, which we then typically launch into another 30-day challenge called the Strengths Exchange. So you have to borrow a strength in someone else and find a specific scenario which you need to borrow that in the next 30 days.

Anne Lingafelter 51:40

Awesome. I love it! I love it! That's fantastic!

Jim Collison 51:43

I think I'm going to steal that one for my family, actually, right? We get together probably once a month and it would be a ton of fun to have -- we just did, you know we do kind of a stocking gift exchange thing every Christmas but each time we get together, we could say, Hey, OK, so-and-so, you know, pick somebody to watch the next time we come back. You know, pick something you've seen, we spend a lot of time chatting with each other, like in Facebook Messenger as a family. And so it'd be kind of fun to -- that'd be a good fun family exercise. Yeah, that's pretty cool.

Anne Lingafelter 52:19

Awesome. Is there anything that we should have asked that we didn't? Anything else -- anything that you wanted to say that you haven't had the chance to yet?

Melitta Hardenberg 52:29

I mean, the only thing that I sometimes share is how wonderful it is to have a language in your relationship. So I know for my husband and I, he probably didn't appreciate the time that I said, "Honey, we're about to do strengths." It was on a chart-free weekend away. It does not bode well for romance. But it was -- it's been hugely insightful for us just to really understand the difference in an internal perspective.

Anne Lingafelter 52:57

Yeah. Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for joining us, Melitta, and sharing your innovative and inspiring stories and ideas. We certainly have loved having you on the show and and look forward to seeing you down in Melbourne soon.

Melitta Hardenberg 53:11

Thanks so much, Anne. Thanks, Jim.

Jim Collison 53:13

You bet, Melitta. You guys hang tight for me for one second. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now on Gallup Access, we've mentioned that a couple times. You can get access to that; just go to By the way, that CliftonStrengths page has tons of resources available for you. Just go to the About section and drop it down. And there's 5 new sections there for you, including a history of CliftonStrengths. So if you wanted to see that, that's available for you. If you have any questions about anything, you can send us an email: Melitta did a great job; I'd even pay her to do this, but she did a great job of promoting our podcasts. Thank you. That's -- you know the way to my heart, and I appreciate that as well. You can get a complete list of all those that are available for you. We have 8 different podcasts available for you. Theme Thursday, Called to Coach -- those are the most popular. If you just go to your podcast app, so Android, iPhone, search Gallup Webcasts, you can get access to them. If you're a YouTube person, and many of you are, you just live on YouTube, and that's OK, you can find us there as well. Search "CliftonStrengths" -- pretty easy to remember on YouTube, and you can track those down. We have a whole channel with about 900 hours now of content that's available for you. So lots of great stuff that is out there. And we'd love to share it with you. If you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Anne mentioned a little bit of training that's coming up and if we've got some coaches training coming up, be thinking of that here in a second. You can go on to our courses page:, that'll redirect. We actually have a brand new thing coming that -- we'll highlight those -- but Anne, anything you want to highlight that's going on there in Sydney or in that region from a coaching perspective?

Anne Lingafelter 54:49

You bet! We have a Strengths Coach Certification course happening first week of February in Sydney, so the 3rd to the 7th, and then we have our first Strengths Coaching course happening in Melbourne the following week. Yes, exactly. So everybody's pretty excited. I think we've got a good number already. But yeah, that's pretty exciting. So yeah.

Jim Collison 55:13

Super cool.

Anne Lingafelter 55:14

We're spreading, we're taking over the continent!

Jim Collison 55:16

I like -- well, it's, well, it's -- and I used to use this terminology that Australia was on fire when we were talking about strengths, but since it literally is, I probably shouldn't say it that way. But things are great in Australia around that as well. We appreciate and thinking about all those folks affected by the fires that are going on there. If you do want to join us here in the United States for the Clifton -- or for the Gallup at Work Summit, it's going to be hard for me to change, but for the Gallup at Work Summit that's coming up June 1, 2 and 3 here in Omaha. And there's no better place to be than in Omaha in June. You can go to and get signed up for the summit. We'd love to see here and a great opportunity for you to learn and grow as well. Last but not least, you can join us on our Facebook group:, some 14,000 of you have done that. We'd love to have you in that group to stay connected and to stay up to date on all the materials and webcasts that we do as well. Want to thank you for joining us tonight, this afternoon, this evening -- wherever you are, and we'll look forward to the next Called to Coach. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Melitta Hardenberg's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Activator, Achiever, Positivity and Woo.

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

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