- Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
- Season 8, Episode 32
- Learn how to build a strengths-based culture in your organization via transforming your learning programs, in Part 5 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 5 of a 5-part series on Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Robert shared the last step in this process: transforming your learning programs. Once an organization gets executive buy-in for strengths; has its employees take the CliftonStrengths assessment; builds a network of internal Strengths Coaches; and integrates strengths into performance management, then it should look at how strengths can transform its internal learning programs (such as hiring, onboarding and organizational communications, plus aligning employee and manager objectives with strengths) through infusing or integrating CliftonStrengths into them. Such efforts don't succeed overnight but bring observable results in business outcomes such as absenteeism, turnover, productivity and profitability.
Access 5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this 5-part series.
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.
Jim Collison 0:00
I'm 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 0:19
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 to it right above me on the live page. If you're, if it's after the fact, and you have a question, send us an email: email@example.com. Don't forget if you're on YouTube, subscribe, and hit the little "Like" button, that actually helps us from a discoverability standpoint, and we appreciate it. Robert Gabsa is our host today. Robert's a Workplace Consultant here at Gallup. And Robert, always great to have you, welcome back to Part 5 here on Called to Coach.
Robert Gabsa 0:54
Yeah, thanks for having me, Jim. It's great to be back here and kind of, kind of disappointed that this, this will, this will end up our, our series here on the Steps of Building a Strengths-Based Culture, but it's been a lot of fun.
Jim Collison 1:04
Let's relive it for just a second, for folks who maybe are joining us for the first time. We've gone through the first 4, just quickly summarize those for us.
Robert Gabsa 1:13
Yeah, the first 4 Steps, Step 1, always get that, that executive support, that executive sponsor, hopefully, if it's a CEO, it's really important to get that, that, you know, kind of leadership view of, Hey, strengths are important, you know, and this is going to be a part of our culture, so we want to hear that voice. The second part of it is, of course, if we're gonna have a strengths-based culture, is get everybody to understand and know their strengths. So have everybody take the assessment, and establish that that baseline, and that common language and build excitement around it.
Robert Gabsa 1:40
Step 3 was getting a network of internal Strengths Coaches, or maybe even Strengths Champions, but people who can advocate support, provide resources and coach around those strengths because just having your Top 5 is all fine and dandy, but coaches really help us turn those into, those talents, into real strengths and point them towards outcomes. And then the last session we spoke about how do we put this into performance management, and why, why would we do that? And how is that gonna, gonna help? And, you know, really the, the -- some of that is naturally, when people are operating in their strengths, when, when people are doing their best every day, when you can get the best of them, you're going to get their best work and their best performance, and having those conversations and changing those conversations to be more positive and strengths-based as opposed to what current performance management systems tend to focus on deficit-based or fixing what's wrong or weaknesses with people. How can we improve you? Performance management can really get launched by, by, by integrating strengths into that and working with getting people at their best.
Jim Collison 2:46
So, for folks who've joined us live, they've heard you go through that rendition a couple times already. They've learned, and maybe it's a little learning technique, as we think about Step 5, what, what is that in the process? Is that important?
Robert Gabsa 3:00
You know, Step 5, in our process is, is now that you've kind of have this, your, your network is set up, you've got that support, people have taken the assessment, you're starting to see it become a part of a cultural groundswell. Maybe it has been if it's been integrated into the performance management system, it's being talked about, conversations are changing. People are feeling it, they're seeing the behaviors. Then it's a matter of how do we just keep that momentum going, you know, how do we, how do we, how do we take it forward, and we say, you know, transform your learning programs?
Robert Gabsa 3:35
And now "transform" can, can sound, like a little scary, and some organizations will think of this like "transform" means, like change, redo, turn it upside-down. We need to change our current program. And, and, you know, I'm saying, No, please don't do that. And they think that that's the first step. Right? Well, if we're going to be strengths-based, then we've got to change our culture, so let's change our learning. And let's, let's change things right here, and we say, No, it, I think it's, it's much more impactful that once people kind of feel that ground-up, like talking about strengths, working with their teams, working with their managers, you kind of build an appetite, right for strengths? People start really seeing the benefits. And they start, they start feeling much more open and receptive; I call it kind of an aperture. Right? It's like their aperture, like a camera just opens. And, and and they're, they're more willing, because if you just come in and want to say, Hey, we're just going to change the learning programs, and, and that's going to be where we start, you're not going to get the buy-in. Right?
Robert Gabsa 4:39
So, I, I like to say, as we see at Gallup, this is more of that last step. So, it's got to be something -- when you're talking about a culture, it's got to be something that people are enthusiastic and excited about, but they have to see it, right? Culture is something that is lived. It really is, it's how do we show up every day? So if we show up, and we live, and we are seen to be strengths-based, and we're using our strengths, and we can understand why certain people who have certain, certain talents and strengths are doing certain things a certain way. Or when I get phone calls for people asking me to brainstorm, because they know I have Ideation No. 1, or, or when I have trouble with creating a process or system, and I know that one of my colleagues, who has talents in those areas, who's a great Arranger and has high Discipline, and I'll call and lean on them.
Robert Gabsa 4:47
When we start feeling and living that, it becomes part of the culture because that's really what creates the culture, right? It's really, it's really a just a combination of, of experiences that we all have together. So, I mean, imagine, you know, being onboarded, and being told that we have a strengths-based culture or seeing it in some way, in the employer branding, and then showing up, and it not being there. It not being seen. It not being talked about. It's not being visible. It's like it's a real letdown, right? So it really is important that it is lived. And part of that is through I think some of our learning programs, you know? You don't want to hear about it, then not see it in action. So, this is, this is a way to get things in action first, and then start to look at, and moving into, you know, some of those learning and development programs so that people aren't getting mixed messages, and isn't getting confused.
Jim Collison 6:18
Robert, let me ask, let me ask you on that really quick. We talked about this, I think in Part 1, about doing an audit, right? This idea of maybe auditing through, what would you seen, or what, what have you seen from a best practice, as we think about maybe some of those things that could be wearing down the organization or the inconsistencies like you just talked about, like, you know, you promote you're strengths-based, and then the first, on the first month, you never even hear it? Or or, you know, you don't get the opportunity to do it, right? How, what's your recommendation on how, how do you go about that audit? I mean, what are just a few pointers on getting something like that started?
Robert Gabsa 6:52
You know, we talk to people, you know, I think talking to different people, different stakeholders. Look at, what are the existing programs right now? What is the, what does our recruiting program look like? What are the practices for our hiring? And our onboarding? How are we doing that? What's, you know, I like to look at the entire, I do work in our employee experience area, right? So I like to look at the entire employee life cycle. And it's not like the employee experience starts on Day 1, when they walk in the door; it starts long before that, right? When they first interact with your brand. So I, when I say, you know, Do an audit, I think I look at, what are all the touchpoints, and what are we telling people and what are they hearing long before they even walk into the door on their first day? You know, it's a very emotional time when you're starting a new job as onboarding, and then it continues on, you know, like onboarding is an orientation that happens in Week 2. Onboarding lasts for months. Sometimes over a year, people are still trying to figure out if they're in the right place.
Robert Gabsa 6:55
So, you know, I think that audit has to really look at are we, are we first, what are we saying to people? You know, how are we promoting it? How are we communicating ourselves, before they come here? And then once they do come here, how are we living it? Are we living it? Are we showing it? Is it coming up in meetings? Are we seeing it newsletters? Is it in part of our communications? Do we have our email signatures? Is that, is that working? Is it? Is it somehow part of our culture? Or are we just saying that to get people to come here, right? And when you find gaps, and you find certain areas that, not that they're wrong, but if you say, I think we find opportunities where, You know what, we could probably do something here, we can probably do something there. Maybe we have another touchpoint, maybe we have another communication point where we can just weave in, not override, but weave in a little bit of that message on how important it is and how our culture is based upon talents and strengths of people, as opposed to, you know, just getting work out of them and trying to fix what's wrong with them. You find those gaps and then you figure out ways to change them. You know, identify, identify those areas.
Jim Collison 8:56
Yeah, you talked about the importance of communication here, through this process. You mentioned some things like newsletters or like we do, or it's in your email signature or post it up on a -- in your work area. What other things could organizations be doing as a best practice? What are some other ideas that might help them communicate this out?
Robert Gabsa 9:18
Ah, I love this. Man, the list goes on, right? It's such a long list. It, you know, whatever the organization's already doing, start there. If they have company newsletters, I have a client who has internal video, internal videos that show on monitors, and break rooms, and in hallways; they're able to put those into loops. Just little things, fun things, that she had a little, she had a puppy, and she had a dog, and she had a little 3-minute video on, on, on what her dog's strengths were. His name is Walter. Right? And they make it fun. Anything -- you have a SharePoint site, is there a company blog? Do you have a place where you, you know, use posters or bulletin boards? I've seen clients use screen savers. Put it on there. Like you said, their email signatures, name tags. I mean, I think the list goes on and on. It just depends on what they're already using. And then, if they're not using something that you think is going to be effective or do you thinks that can help, you know, brainstorm. Is there a place on our website, you know? Is there, when we're doing speaking engagements, do we, do you know, do we mention it? Is it part of our communication?
Robert Gabsa 10:20
As we're developing our value, our employee value proposition, you know, are we weaving that into that message? You know, because our EVP is a very strong magnet. And that's really what's telling the outside world who we are, as a brand, and as an employment brand. And I think putting it into any employment brand initiatives is critical, because people are looking for, especially young people, especially newer people coming out of college, they're looking for that type of development. They're looking for people to, and organizations that want to know what's right with them, because they've heard and they've seen the opposite, right? And so it's very easy to, to kind of use that as I think as a great selling point, and it's not the only selling point, but try to put it into that, you know? I mean, again, the lists, some companies have Twitter and Instagram and social media. So I think, you know, use it in any way you can. Don't overuse it. Right? Walk before you run, but find out, find out where you're communicating already, and see where you can weave it into those messages.
Jim Collison 11:20
Because of the role that I have here in the community, I get to see a lot of these kinds of things happening publicly, which is really super cool. I think of a great example, Jon Sexton over at Vibrant Credit Union, is making public videos, they're kind of Theme Thursday-style, they're talking, he's interviewing an individual talking about how they're using their themes. It's for the credit union, they publish them publicly, so you get some recognition, right, for that. And, and then it's a great opportunity for that organization to rally around that, right? It's from them, by them, made up, made by them. It's faces that people recognize, and I think those are some great opportunities. Hannah Miller, we're going to interview her, she's from the U.K., we're going to interview her in a couple weeks. She's making 2-minute, 3-minute videos on LinkedIn, that she's describing these, these themes, right? And working in that way, and there's so many creative ways, and I think even having a few stories at a company's annual meeting, we call it State of the Company, right? But they have some very concrete examples where we bring strengths in, and this is why this is happening, when we start doing recognition based on people's, what they've completed based on their strengths, and how we call that out, that kind of reinforces that as well. So, what are other actions would you suggest for coaches, helping organizations -- what, any other, any other, or, or maybe just kind of review what we talked about?
Robert Gabsa 12:45
Yeah. You know, I think starting, you know, as far as where I would go, what actions that can be done, is taking that audit, you know, in turn, it, audit the internal programs, look for where, areas of improvement or places that you might be able to kind of infuse or integrate strengths, or coaching into what they're already doing. If they're weakness-focused, you know, how can we turn that into strengths-based, you know, approach. I think aligning internal and external messaging, you know, make sure we have the why, and the how, behind strengths. It's not just, Hey, we're doing strengths. But you know, we've got plenty of data points and case studies on on why it works, and how it works, and how it really fuels engagement. That, that, that, that internal brand advocacy, building that internal kind of, kind of group, the tribe, so to speak, and whether they're coaches or strength champions, or just people that are passionate about, about it. Build a contingency. Build that, that, that group that can help, kind of amplify the message. That's another, you know, another thing that you can do relatively easily, right? Hey, folks, how can we get this going? Let's come up with some ideas. Make things visible.
Robert Gabsa 13:53
And I think you can, you know, another thing and, you know, ensure that employee and manager objectives are aligned with strengths. There's nothing, there's nothing more disheartening than when an employee's excited about talking about their strengths and their talents and wanting to develop them, and having a manager just not on the same page, and really not seeing it as important, and not supporting that, that can be really disheartening. So, you know, I think getting that alignment is really critical and making sure that it's not too siloed because that could they could take the wind out of the sail, right? And then, finally, I think as I just talked about, How can you, how can you put strengths into your employment brand? How can you showcase you? How can you use it as a differentiator? How can you make yourself look unique out there? Because people are selecting companies, they're choosing where they want to work, long before they even fill out that application or submit their resume. They're, they're looking and talking to people who work there, who have worked there, and if it's become part of your culture, the word will get out, and it'll become part of your brand. And that's, that's a, that's, that's going to do more work for you than, than your other recruiting efforts? I guarantee it's, it's what people are talking about. So, I would say those are my, my initial things that I know people can can do pretty darn quickly.
Jim Collison 15:09
Robert, in your work, that you've done, is this a flip the switch, and it's done in a week? Or what's your, what's your advice? Just so I know.
Robert Gabsa 15:16
Don't, don't I wish we could we could hand somebody a magic, a magic pill, or a silver bullet, right? To make all that happen. Absolutely not, Jim. This, this takes, like anything else -- especially, yeah, you can flip a switch, and have everybody take a strengths assessment. But to create a strengths-based culture, to create any type of culture, it's not something that you can just establish and say, This is our new culture, and this is the way we're going to do things. Culture kind of happens, right? Culture is, is, it's, it's in a lot of ways, it's like your brand. It's, it's the conversation between 2 people over coffee. It's how people interact and collaborate. It's how they show up. It's how they support. It's, it's how the organization interacts with the community. It takes a lot of work. But to become strengths-based, you have to start somewhere, and it does not happen overnight. But, but it's well worth, it's well worth the efforts because we see the results, you know? And companies that do it, they see it, they see the results in, in, in all of the things we talk about in engagement: lower absenteeism, lower turnover, right, higher productivity, higher profitability, all of those metrics. They do happen, but it doesn't happen overnight. No, it's a, it's a lot of work.
Jim Collison 16:13
Yeah, I, I think sometimes we think culture is a statement, and it's actually a million conversations, right? That's where culture happens. And so you, you want to get more of those than less, speaking in those terms. And that takes a lot of consistency, and a lot of work, and a lot of effort to get that done. I think well worth it in the end, as organizations move in that direction. Robert, thank you for being with us for this 5 Part Series. If you're catching this, this one as your first one, we have 4 more for you as we work through this. And in you, we'd love to have you kind of just work through that with us.
Jim Collison 17:02
I'll remind you, if you have any questions, you can always send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget, you can get access to all our resources off of, in our new Gallup Access. Easiest way to access that is gallup.com/cliftonstrengths, available there. If you sign in there, you will get, you'll go right on to the platform. Great way to do it. Don't forget to sign up for our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter while you're there. We would love to have you join us on our social groups as well: facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach, and then join us on LinkedIn. Maybe you're not a Facebooker -- not everybody needs to be, by the way, but you can do it on LinkedIn as well. Search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches," and we'd love to have you in that community, as well. I want to thank you for joining us for this whole series. If you did listen to all 5, give yourself a badge of some kind. And, and we appreciate you guys coming out. If you're joining us live, stay around for a smidgen of a postshow. With that, we'll say Goodbye, everybody.
Robert Gabsa's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Woo, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer.