skip to main content
5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 4

5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 4

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 31
  • Learn how to build a strengths-based culture in your organization via integrating CliftonStrengths into performance management, in Part 4 of this 5-part series.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Robert Gabsa, a Gallup Workplace Consultant, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 4 of a 5-part series on Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Robert shared the fourth step in this process: integrating CliftonStrengths into an organization's performance management system. Robert shared how most organizations' performance management systems revolve around an annual performance review, are backward-looking and deficit-based (rather than strengths-based). He told of the paradigm shift when an organization integrates strengths into performance management and aims its system at ongoing development, and how coaches can help managers move to a strengths-based model for their performance management.

Access 5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3 and Part 5 of this 5-part series.

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

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on April 17, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

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 above me on the live page. It'll take you to a YouTube page and there's a chat room that is there and available for you. If you have questions after the fact, send us an email: don't forget, if you're on YouTube, subscribe to us and click that little "Like" button down there. That kind of helps us out with discovery as well. Robert Gabsa is our host today. Robert's a Workplace Consultant with me here at Gallup, and Robert, always great to see you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Robert Gabsa 0:57

Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Jim. This is, this is great! Love, love sharing the, sharing the thoughts and, and best practices around what we do to get strengths-based cultures in more organizations.

Jim Collison 1:09

We're in a 5-part series doing that, and we've covered the first 3. Give us just a kind of a quick summary, and then we'll dive into Part 4.

Robert Gabsa 1:16

Yeah, you know, the first, the first step is always to get that leadership, that leadership support. If you can start with the CEO, great. If not, have some type of an executive sponsor, too, that really kind of lends some of that real good credibility and getting it aligned with the, the organizational culture and making sure that things are being communicated that it's important to the organization. You know, Step 2, get everybody to take their, their strengths assessment. If it's going to be part of the culture, let's establish that common language; let's establish kind of that, that environment of strengths. And then, and then 3 was the last, the last session that we talked about, was building this network of internal Strengths Coaches, or at the very least Strengths Champions, and how important that is to really kind of take this forward to make sure that we're, we're aiming, what we've done towards outcomes.

Jim Collison 2:05

Step 4, about integrating strengths into performance management and that term "performance management" scares a lot of people. We have a position paper on this at too. So if you're one of those Learners, and when you want to read more, just head out to and search "Performance Management." We got a lot of information, but for the folks that are listening right now, give us a little, kind of give us a little summary on how we think about that. And why is it important in this step?

Robert Gabsa 2:30

Yeah, that's, God, I love this, Jim, because, you know, we've been talking for so long about performance management systems being broken, you know, where they came from, where they were developed back during World War I and II and, and kind of became part of the norm of having these annual reviews, you know, that everybody just loves. We all love to have an annual review. As a matter of fact, I think we have data that says that next to firing somebody, a manager's most dreaded task is to give an annual review. So you know how that's going. And it's, it's been proven that it doesn't, it doesn't help. I think we have something like 14% of employees strongly agree that their annual review actually inspired them to improve their performance, and only about 20% (so you got about 2 out of 10) strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to perform better. So it's not working well.

Robert Gabsa 3:23

And one of the reasons is it's, Let's face it, it's, it's pretty much deficit-based. We have performance reviews. They're backward-looking, right? We come in, and we say, "Hey, Jim. You know, you did something 10 months ago, and it really was bad and it really made me mad, and I'm glad we're sitting down to talk about it now. You know, I might not even remember what it is, but I'll pull your file and we'll figure it out." It's very backwards-looking. And it's, it's not about building positive kind of outcomes forward. It's usually talking about what you need to fix, right, which is just totally counter to what this is all about.

Robert Gabsa 3:56

So integrating strengths into performance management is just kind of this natural way of talking to people about what they do best, where their strengths are, how, how to apply them towards their role. Again, it's not about, we never suggest that we use this to select roles. Because strengths, you know, as we know, it's not about what you can do. They don't, they don't really tell us what we can do. They tell us how we can do that. Right. So as a manager doing performance management, that's not just an annual review. Performance management is something that should be done throughout the year, right. It's continuous feedback. It's continuous coaching. We call it a review. It should never be a performance surprise. There should never be any surprises. So really, the performance management system should be more about ongoing development. And when you know people, when you know about their best and how they perform well, you're more able as a manager to help them perform well, right? If I know your best, I can help aim that towards your best performance. It's just kind of a natural connection.

Robert Gabsa 5:07

You know, I have an example of my daughter Lily. She's very artistic. She's very creative. She, she loves to draw and paint and color, and she's 15 now and she does amazing artwork. Well, a couple of years ago, she was, she was struggling in math right? She was just coming home with her math quiz scores in the 70s. And it wasn't that Lily couldn't do math, because at home I said, "Lily, you're nailing it at home. We do your homework and we practice and you've got it nailed down. What's going on?" She says, "Well, Dad, you know, you know me -- I like to do things in, in your, in your office. You've got a whiteboard and colored markers and it's kind of fun. And at school, we have white paper and gray pencils and it's quiet and boring. And, you know, we always play music and, and I lose, I miss details and my mind wanders." And so, we talked to Lily's teacher, and her teacher said, "You know what? She can listen to music in her, in her, in her headset. And she can use colored paper and colored pens. I don't care, so long as she does the work." And Lily started doing it that way, and it was a way of almost taking, getting to know Lily, right, or getting to know an employee and how they are hardwired; how they can use their natural talents and strengths to perform better. Why not? You know, if you're a right-handed organization and you find out somebody's left-handed, as a manager, maybe you can adjust their role a little bit so they can do their tasks left-handed, is my analogy for how strengths can really be powerful towards performance.

Jim Collison 6:33

Robert, we had a series -- The 5 Coaching Conversations -- we did it with Paul and Al, and spent some time -- this, this, this developmental review process is kind of outlined as one of those 5 coaching conversations. So we have a series, if folks are looking to help with managers and the conversations they need to have, this performance management both when we think about the Quick Connect; the Developmental Review -- these pieces, right, where, you know, you mentioned this early on that, Hey, if I'm waiting 10 months to hear about some performance, right? Not -- it doesn't, it doesn't motivate me. And so we have some additional resources as well. But how can -- how can coaches help managers specifically in this area when we think about this? How can they -- how today could they go in and have these conversations with managers that might help them be better at having this conversation?

Robert Gabsa 7:31

Ah, well, I think they can help them. I mean, there's a, there's a number of ways, right? First of all, I think one thing that coaches need to do if they're really kind of, kind of looking at infusing or integrating strengths into a performance management system is never throw the baby out with the bathwater. Right? What's currently -- what's the current performance management system right now? Review that. We don't want to turn it upside down. Some people get tempted to say, Well, if we're going to do, you know, something that's more strengths-based, we need to get away with what we have and start over. And that's, that's the worst thing that you can do. It's more about, you know, what are we doing now that is working? And and how can we infuse more of strengths-based conversations and strengths-based development into those, those, those performance management systems?

Robert Gabsa 8:19

And there's usually touchpoints, and like you said, some of those conversations. You know, we get, we get caught up sometimes in those little Quick Connects, or those, those, those, those, those little kind of conversations that managers have on a weekly basis or even a daily basis. And we tend to see that there are 3 areas that seem to be the most typical questions, right: What are you working on? Right? Is there anything getting in your way? And how can I help you? And I always tell managers, you know, one of the easiest ways to, to change that conversation is every once in a while, put in a different question. You know, Tell me about your favorite part of the week. What was your biggest, biggest success this week? You know, catch them off guard with, instead of just the Hi, how are you? What are you doing? What are you working on? What was your favorite 2 hours of the week? Just curious, just 2 minutes of it; just tell me. You know, and, and, you know, what do you think you were most successful at? And let them get that, that feeling and Why do you think that made you so successful? You know, which one of your strengths may have, may have helped you get there? It only takes a couple of minutes. And I think that's part of that daily, those weekly, those monthly conversations that don't have to be a part of a kind of an annual review process. that are really important.

Robert Gabsa 9:29

But I think review your system, you know, so find out how it's working now. I think clarify -- they can help managers clarify expectations. How do you use strengths to clarify expectations? We all learn and hear and process things differently. You know, we can use it to help, help them set meaningful goals and work collaboratively together. Because if I've got a team of 8 people, I can't -- I have to individualize, right, each one and work with each one and making sure I'm clear with with setting goals and expectations with them. And so I think using strengths can really help managers do that by understanding individuals and how they think and process and filter what's being said and how things are being set.

Robert Gabsa 10:10

You know, if someone has high Competition, that might be something a manager wants to leverage. You know, if somebody has Connectedness or if somebody has Woo or Ideation, how can those help them perform? How can we help put them in positions that'll, that'll be more -- that'll, that'll feed those "beasts," so to speak, better? They can also help them kind of define outcomes. You know, how can we more clearly define outcomes and make sure as a coach -- almost as a coach, the manager can, can be better about performance being an outcome, and how are we getting there through engagement and through strengths?

Robert Gabsa 10:49

I think they can also help with consistent and relevant development plans. How do we create these individual development plans using people's strengths and using those, and what a great tool and resource that is. So that they have kind of something to lean on that they can use to develop individuals in their performance based upon their strengths.

Robert Gabsa 11:12

And finally, I mean, which is really wrapped all around this, is coaches can help organizations and managers and teams just change conversations, you know, change the way we look at each other and relate with each other and understand each other. Because it's so much more powerful when we have that insight as to how somebody naturally, you know, thinks, feels, behaves.

Jim Collison 11:36

We, we have some resources for coaches and managers and asking these questions during Theme Thursday, Season 6, Maika has come up with a whole list of questions that managers can use by theme. And so, you know, it's, it gives you some tools and some ability to kind of coach the managers to say, Hey, if you've got an employee that's working, and they've got these kinds of themes, here's some great questions you can ask them as well. So we have those resources again available for you. Theme Thursday, Season 6, it's going on right now, you can still join us live for those. You might be listening at a time when we're all done and we have them all available for you. But they're inside the webcast as well. Robert, any final thoughts before we wrap it up as we encourage coaches to help with this, with this Part 4?

Robert Gabsa 12:18

You know, just as a final thought, if you're allowed to do it, if you can do it, if you're in a position to do it, I strongly encourage integrating strengths into the performance management system in some way, shape or form because it's not working now. And we find that when people -- or when they're management, we you know, at Gallup, we call it performance development. It's not performance management. It's more about how do you develop people, you know, it's getting people done through work. And by using their strengths, you're just going to get the best of them, more of the best of them. And that's going to lead to better performance and, you know, really just a better culture.

Jim Collison 12:52

Awesome. Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available through -- now through Gallup Access. Head out to Log into there; it will actually take you straight to your your strengths dashboard inside of Access. While you're there, sign up for this CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter available each and every month, delivered right to your Inbox and kind of keep you informed on all the things that are happening here in the community. Couple reminders: If you have any questions on anything we talked about, or your organization is struggling to do it and you'd like our help, you can send us an email: If you'd like to join us live or know when our webcasts are happening, maybe you'd -- it's more fun live, you'd like to come out and do that -- follow us on Eventbrite: At least see the schedule of everything that's coming up. Join us in our Facebook group:, and search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" on LinkedIn and we'll let you into that group as well. Want to thank you for joining us today. Looking forward to Part 5. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Robert Gabsa's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Woo, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer.

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

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030