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Setting Teams Up for Success: Awareness and Composition

Setting Teams Up for Success: Awareness and Composition

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 33
  • Listen as Dr. Sue Bath explains the vital roles of strengths awareness and strengths composition in engaged and productive teams.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Dr. Sue Bath, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 1 of a 2-part series, Sue shared the vital role of strengths awareness for teams -- that each person understands their own unique talents, along with the talents of others on the team, and how the combination of these can help the team overcome challenges and achieve its performance goals. This should be supplemented by a team's knowledge of its own strengths composition -- how the team's strengths complement each other, where the team is strong and where it is weak. In this way, the team can maximize its combined strengths and apply them to each goal and challenge in its current situation, propelling team engagement and productivity forward.

Access Part 2 of this 2-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'm Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 6, 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 are listening live, we have a, there's a link to our chat rooms right above me here in the video window. That will take you to a YouTube instance. Log in and we'd love to have you in the chat room. If you have any questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, subscribe; you'll get a notification every time we go live. And if you want to listen as a podcast -- and all the cool kids are listening to podcasts these days, so you want to do this: any podcast player, search "Gallup Webcasts" and you will find Called to Coach. Dr. Sue Bath is our host today. Sue is a Senior Workplace Consultant here at Gallup. Sue, welcome to Called to Coach.

Sue Bath 1:06

Thank you so much, Jim. It's just great to be here.

Jim Collison 1:09

It is great to have you here. We've got, we're going to be doing Part 1 and 2. But for those listening on the podcast, Part 1 here, as we talk about developing, with the whole, like this whole series is around developing people's strengths. But today, we kind of want to talk about setting teams up for success, right, this idea of awareness and composition. So what has Gallup found that the most engaged and productive teams, what do they have in common?

Sue Bath 1:34

Well, Jim, what we've found in our research is that they share a mission and a purpose. And that really means that team success ultimately depends on the team's ability to identify and focus on clear and compelling performance challenges, or a common purpose. They really have to have that. So this could be on a common problem that needs a solution, or maybe, maybe even an organizational goal. It can take many forms, but it always has to be clear and compelling to all team members. So that's so important.

Sue Bath 2:17

I think another thing to remember is it's important to remember that all team members understand and appreciate that they are, that they're great at some things and not very good at others. Right? That's important. I think all team members must be aware of their unique talents and familiar with how they can help the team respond to achieve its performance challenge or goal as well. I think that's just paramount. I also think another important point is that they know others on the team can contribute, how they can contribute best, and they can act interdependently. Teams, I think, really need to be aware of each other's strengths. That's just really, really important. I think what this means is having an understanding of how each person is inclined to think and act and how they feel. So, I think, overall, I think awareness helps the team to navigate issues that teams encounter. And certain talents make team members adept at maybe things like conflict management, documenting team's work, setting direction, influencing others and things like that. So I think talent awareness really means knowing how team members, how team members work together best.

Jim Collison 3:59

Yeah, so, excuse me, so that awareness makes sense. OK, and we can come at that from a CliftonStrengths perspective as they understand who they are, and then that second level, maybe being as far as who they are with each other on the team that's there. But what's the difference between team strengths awareness, and then composition?

Sue Bath 4:20

Great question, Jim. So I want you all to forget about that old "greater than the sum of its parts" kind of motivational, saying, right? And I want you to focus instead on why it's important to know and support each other's contributions to the team. That's really more important. So what we found here at Gallup is great teams have an awareness around where they're strong and where they're weak. So they know how they can best contribute and complement one another to accomplish goals. OK? So they help one another maximize their strengths by identifying specific roles and tasks and action items that can align each person's strengths to the current situation, or a performance goal. So that's super important. So, therefore, I think what can happen is every person has something to the team, even if it's not perfectly balanced in composition amongst the 4 CliftonStrengths Domains of, you know, Executing, Influencing Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking.

Sue Bath 5:39

You know, Jim, I think most managers are not given the luxury of hand-picking their own team, right? That just doesn't happen. They come into a team that is already established and have to make the best of it, right? I mean, that's just how it is. They have an opportunity to maybe hire a few team members, but for the most part, you get what you get, and you don't throw a fit, right? That's what I tell my kids. So a manager does have to work with individuals to help them to know how they can naturally excel, where they need to, you know, have some help from their teammates, and what shared goals or purpose they're all using that could lead to success. I think that's something to really remember. I think, you know, managers too, can use the strengths-based approach of awareness to intentionally promote things like effective delegation, successful partnerships, probably deeper collaboration, and, you know, I think there's a whole host of really nice outcomes as well.

Sue Bath 6:56

I'd like to give an example too of that, so let's think about a new manager who has hired a coach. A team of 30 people, OK, so they're made up of various experience levels. And they probably have different, you know, tenure and strengths, too, right? They're all, they're all different. You know, she's been hired to increase team productivity and engagement scores in a matter of 5 months. That's not a very long time, right? She looks at her Team Strengths Grid, and notices that she and only one other person on the team have a strength that lies in that Executing Domain and that she and only three others have strengths in the Relationship Domain. So she starts to kind of freak out a little bit about the composition, that composition of heaviness of strengths in Influencing and Strategic Thinking that her team has. So, you know, you can see she has that mindset of composition and it's off balance to her. She feels like she will not be able to motivate and engage because of these missing strengths that she thinks she should have on her team.

Sue Bath 8:17

However, her strengths-based manager, who's a great coach, by the way, a great Strengths Coach, comes along and says she's looking at it all wrong. That it's more important for her to take the time to have purposeful, powerful conversations with her employees, and doing it individually and as a team in order to create an awareness and an understanding so that expectations can be clarified, effective performance development plans can be set, and, you know, goals can be established as well. So she goes ahead, this manager executes the suggestion that her wonderful manager who's a great coach suggests, and within the first quarter of the year -- ahead of schedule, I might add -- she has increased productivity by 22%. Wow! And the overall Q12 Engagement Score for her team has increased by almost one full point. Amazing! The feedback, too, that she received from her team's Q12 session, that feedback session, that really ended up being the biggest difference maker was that her team said, taking, her taking the time to ask about each team, team member's individual strengths and what they mean to each of them and how they could complement one another, and build upon each other, really made the difference. And so it was really a great learning experience for her, that it really is awareness over composition when you're building a team to success, when you're looking at strengths.

Jim Collison 10:18

Yeah. And that's a great example in the sense that, you know, we know 70% of a team's success in engagement, it's kind of based on the manager itself, right? And so the managers got to get these pieces, right. This ties nicely in during this season, so Season 6 of Theme Thursday, we've been giving some clues. Maika has been giving some clues in this, as we look at these situations like this, where we may have a team that has -- is high or medium or low in some of these domains, right and some clues, so if you're also thinking like, oh, how can I get more of this? Well join us in Season 6 of Theme Thursday that's available. I'm out there and we can give you those clues as well. OK. So, when we think about that, you've got some strategies and powerful questions that you could recommend to managers, right, to jump-start strengths-based teams conversations, therefore increase that awareness. Can you give us a few of your own there, Sue?

Sue Bath 11:09

I sure can, Jim. I, you know, I think it's really important to give each team member a moment to shine. Right? By letting them share at least one unique contribution that they can make or make to the team overall. Challenge your team members to think first about talents they have versus what they don't have, right? You may want to use the Love, Frustrate, and Appreciate -- formerly known as the Love, Crazy, Envy Exercise.

Jim Collison 11:44

We don't say those 3 words anymore.

Sue Bath 11:45

No. Don't say 'em, right? I shouldn't have even said 'em, right? Or another great exercise is the Best of Me Exercise and that can, you know, those can be found in the Digital Kit via Access as well. I think these tools can help managers to know how to best support and engage their teams. I think, Jim, too, I encourage people to share as much as they can even beyond just strengths. You know, if, if they can link it to strengths, even better, but some, some of these questions or exercises can even be used on a monthly or quarterly basis, in order to help to increase, you know, team awareness or conflict resolution, and, you know, even relationship building, as well.

Sue Bath 12:35

I think too -- and as a coach, coaching manager, I think you should explore challenges from the perspective of maybe performance by asking questions like, What are your team's current goals and challenges? Or how can the team's strengths positively impact these goals and challenges? Or you could ask your team compelling questions that bring awareness about powerful partnerships, which can lead to successful outcomes. And some of these questions, some of these examples might be, you know, what can we glean about our makeup from the Team Strengths Grid? -- might be a good one. And what is the team's most dominant domain? Or the least dominant domain? How is the team currently maximizing their talents as a team? Or who could the team leverage to attack this specific team goal or challenge? That's really an important one, right? It might not be even on their same team. They might look outside of the team to leverage strengths on another team as well.

Sue Bath 13:57

And another one, where does the team see powerful partnerships amongst the team? Where do they see those powerful partnerships that they can leverage? The power of, the Power of 2 is important, right? Who has something they don't have to make that powerful connection and shining together? And then another one, which talents could the team lean into to help drive the team toward completing the specific goals for overcoming challenges? Right? Every team has challenges. What strengths could the team lean into to really drive towards those challenges? So those are just a few, Jim. I think for more, you know, useful information and tips on how to build strengths-based teams, you could complete the Building a Strengths-Based Team Module via the Learn Product, or you could find it on the Modules tab in the CliftonStrengths Manager section as well. The module includes a helpful article to help deep-dive your role as a manager into building a strengths-based team.

Jim Collison 15:11

And a reminder, those modules available for those on an Access subscription through our Enterprise Model on that. Sue, one of the things I want to encourage you on this, you know, we, as we go to these questions about them, what's the makeup of the Team Grid and the dominant, least dominant, sometimes, I think, especially as those who've been around the community for a while, we, we're always kind of looking for that new and fresh approach to, I always get asked this question all the time -- What are some new things we can do? And as we go through these questions, this is like basic-block, blocking and tackling -- I know, a U.S. football reference, but the idea of like, I still find when I go back to teams or when I'm working on the teams I'm on, and I'm, we ask these questions about our own productivity. They don't get old. Like these are just the, this is the basic C-level, we have to be be asking these questions. And I think for coaches and managers working with teams, these should -- we should be asking questions like this, kind of all the time, like they just don't -- do you see that on the teams like, these just don't necessarily age, right?

Sue Bath 16:16

They don't. They don't age. You're right, Jim. I think you can be asking these weekly, monthly, quarterly. Ask them all the time. I think the more, the better, right? It doesn't -- they're timeless. They are timeless questions. And just the more you can talk, and ask about strengths, the better, I think, the stronger your strengths-based culture can, can grow and be.

Jim Collison 16:44

Sue, in your experience, of those 6 questions that you ask, do you find one of them to be what loosens the lid, so to speak, more than the others? Do you find one to be particularly powerful or your go-to?

Sue Bath 16:59

You know, one that I love and I'm, I'm -- it's because I'm a Maximizer, Jim, right? -- is How is the team currently maximizing their talents as a team, right? I think you look at what's good. You look at what's good and you build upon it. I think a lot of awareness can happen there. It's like, what are we really doing well, and what can we build upon to make us the best we can absolutely be, and then how do we promote that amongst our organization? How do we promote that to our clients? I mean, that's what we really need to focus on, but then we fill in with other partnerships, where, hey, we've got some challenges, every team does, but let's fill in with the rest. But let's highlight it. Let's build upon what we can maximize, and what we do well.

Jim Collison 17:52

Yeah. And then, in the work that you've done, have you found, or what's been the effect of the repetitive use of these style of questions, in other words, not trying to do it once, a "one and done," but kind of coming back to them and asking them over and over and over again, what have you seen in your work?

Sue Bath 18:09

You know, I think I've seen people really get to know themselves on such a deeper level. I think they also, I think they get to know each other on such a deeper level. The manager gets to know their team, they get to know each other. I think relationships deepen, and that is so important. You know, on the Q12, "Do you have a best friend at work?" I think they see that in particular question that is traditionally low, they see that question go up, in, in great ways. I mean, that is an increase for a lot of our clients. I think we also see that what people thought was maybe something that really irritated them about another person on the team, they understand that. And then they think, Well, maybe, hey, that's pretty cool. You could help me with something that I necessarily am not that great at, right? There's an awareness around that now. And I get you. I get you, and you get me. And we're friends. We get it, and we can help each other. So there's just so many benefits there.

Jim Collison 19:26

Yeah, there are indeed. I think these 6 questions are kind of the baseline, as we think about when we're doing team, and team formations. You know, when teams are coming together for the first time, I think it's really, really important we start with a baseline, right? And begin this process of this awareness. But more than, and I, and I think of the composition in terms of another dimension of awareness. So we have awareness, but then the composition of the team, and how they understand themselves, and the productivity piece, really allows them to move forward. Right? To do things together, to act as a unit, to begin to have high productivity, based on the best of the, you know, the best productivity pieces within the team. So it's super exciting. I would, we'll have these questions available in the show notes for this program as well. And if you want to go back, kind of like I said, blocking and tackling, as far as the basics on a team. Sue, anything else you add before we close it up?

Sue Bath 19:44

I just want to thank all of you for listening to me today, and having me on the show today. Jim, I just thank you so much.

Jim Collison 20:32

Well, if you're listening to this, and this is Part 1, Sue's back for Part 2, so ...

Sue Bath 20:36

Yeah, sorry.

Jim Collison 20:37

No, no worry -- in your in your podcast player or, if you're listening live, just stay around and go to the next one, and we'll have Sue on next.

Jim Collison 20:43

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. You can go to, lots of information there. I'd love to have you subscribe to our YouTube channels or subscribe to this as a podcast, and always stay up to date with what we're teaching and what, the learning that is available out there for you as well. While you're at the site, sign up for our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, great opportunity to monthly get some information from us and stay current on all the things that's going on in the Strengths Community. Like Sue said, if you have questions, you can contact us: If you want to sign up for a course, or see what courses are available for us, you can head to our Courses page, really easy, it's just There's a pattern there, you can follow it. And then don't forget, if you want to join us live for these, because it's way more fun when it's live, come to our Eventbrite page, go to If you're on Facebook, And if you're just not doing Facebook, and that's OK too, you can join us on LinkedIn: Search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." You don't have to be a trained coach from us. We'll let anybody come in, but ask for, ask for the invite, and I'll let you in as well. I want to thank you for joining us. If you're listening live, stay around for Part 2. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Sue Bath's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Individualization, Activator, Belief and Input.

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

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