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How to Develop People's Strengths to Achieve Outcomes

How to Develop People's Strengths to Achieve Outcomes

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 34
  • Listen as Dr. Sue Bath shines a light on strengths-based development and how, via 5 coaching conversations, managers can help employees achieve performance outcomes.
  • 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 2 of this 2-part series, Sue talks about strengths-based development and how managers can develop employees' strengths to achieve outcomes. This includes making engagement relevant to everyday work; educating managers on new ways of managing; practicing companywide communication; and holding managers accountable. Sue shared how 5 Coaching Conversations can help managers in their (and their organizations') efforts to foster employee engagement.

Access Part 1 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 am 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 0:21

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, there's a link right above me there on our live page. It'll take you to the YouTube channel and you can sign into the chat room. We'll take your questions live there. If you have questions after the fact, you're listening to the recorded version of it, YouTube or as a podcast, you can send us an email: If you're on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe down there, that way you get the notification every time we go live. If you're listening to it as a podcast, and all the cool kids are doing that these days, any podcast player search: "Gallup Webcasts" and you will find Called to Coach there. Dr. Sue Bath is our host today. Sue is a Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup. Sue, great to have you. Welcome to Called to Coach.

Sue Bath 1:07

Thank you so much, Jim. I'm thrilled to be here.

Jim Collison 1:11

In Part 1, we talked a little bit about some, about the difference, or the the maximization of awareness and composition, team composition and some great questions that a manager can ask. In this session, we want to talk about how to develop people's strengths to achieve outcomes. And we alluded to some of that, it's kind of hard not to mix these together when we talk about this, but when we think about the big picture, and we think about strengths-based development, what are we really talking about? Can you set the stage for us there?

Sue Bath 1:41

Absolutely. And I like how you said, asked me about the big picture, right? Because I think you have to think about the big picture in regards to leading with a strengths-based development approach. And I think what that means is that your CEO, your board of directors, leaders, managers and really all your employees are all in strategic alignment between what they're asked to do and what the organization stands for, is really trying to get done, right? I think, in addition, you have to have a well-defined purpose and brand, and really know why it exists and how it wants to be known. I think everyone in an organization understands that employee engagement is a system for achieving unity and purpose and a brand. They have to know that. And I think this means making engagement pretty relevant to everyday work, rather than this abstract concept that's just kind of floating around out there.

Sue Bath 2:52

So I want to give an example of this, that Gallup has worked with. So, Southwest Airlines is the world's most loved, most efficient, most profitable airline. And their mission is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service, delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness and individual pride and company spirit too. So in 2019, that marked the year for the, it's the 10th consecutive year in a row, that they ranked as one of Glassdoor's Best Places to Work. And based off of reviews and satisfaction, that was based off of reviews and satisfaction from company employees as well. So Southwest is a Gallup client, and we have discovered that this concept of strategic alignment has come into play as really a major factor in their success, from their selection of employees, to onboarding, to ongoing development, one-on-ones, yearly reviews and really even exiting the organization, they are communicating and living a strengths-based development approach, which really everyone is in line with, and that is really made the difference. So I really wanted to mention that, it's just been amazing.

Sue Bath 4:23

So, I think another key component to strengths-based development is educating managers on new ways of managing. I think the best organizations have leaders who encourage teams to probably solve problems at the local level, rather than using top-down commands. They focus on training and development programs, on building local, probably local manager and team capability to solve issues on their own, rather than than having to go kind of up a ladder. So engagement and performance and training are still aligned. So, training is strengths-based and grounded really in that Q12 engagement and those elements. So, I think, you know, managers learn how to identify the strengths of team members, and how to use and build strengths as a way to achieve those outcomes. And I think training is tailored to each manager's capability, and that's really important as well. Managers with high performance and high team engagement receive, and I think this is important, more advanced curricula probably than most, and those more than with low performance and low team engagement. It's, it's important to kind of reward them with that.

Sue Bath 6:00

I also want to talk about a 3rd key component to strengths-based development. It's practicing companywide communication, it's so important. The best organizations have CHROs who build systems that teach managers how to develop employees in line with their strengths. So these organizations have designed, I think, kind of this champions network that communicates, and collects best practices and answers questions so that it's not just the CHRO's job to do that. I think that ongoing collection of best practices and practice examples creates really this vivid picture of what highly engaged teams really should look like. And they communicate that out to to everyone so everyone knows what that picture and that vision is. One more thing, lastly, that I want to mention here, Jim, is highly developed cultures hold managers accountable. This means using employee recognition as a means to develop and stretch employees to new levels of success. And with that, too, recognition of outstanding team leaders sends a pretty strong message about what the company values as well. And those organizations should really just not tolerate mediocrity, you know, it's really -- that's an enemy here. They should define strengths-based development and success on pretty much a combination of metrics, and those things should be probably productivity, and retention, and customer service, and employee engagement and those things we've figured out through our research here at Gallup.

Sue Bath 8:00

So I think, to kind of round out this point, it really must be clear to managers that it's their job to engage their teams, using their unique strengths, and that there are consequences for ongoing patterns of team disengagement. And I think, probably most importantly, changing, maybe managers, if it's not working out, right? I think probably too, the best companies also know that not everyone should be a manager, right? Not everyone should be. And that they create high-value career paths for individual contributor roles. So often there is not a path for people that are individually, in those individual contributor roles. So I don't think anyone should feel like their progress depends on being promoted to a manager role. We have to have those opportunities for people to excel, no matter what role they're in. So yeah.

Jim Collison 9:05

Sue, in Part 1, you know, we talked about composition and awareness, the kind of the core, the rock of a team. You've now outlined kind of the framework around that with, with teams as far as the expectations that, that thriving, productive teams have. We know the manager, in our book, It's the Manager, we know that 70% of the team's engagement is driven by the manager. We also outlined some questions, right? There's these 5 Coaching Conversations that can be that can be had in this is scenario. So, as we think about these 5 Coaching Conversations, how, what are they, and how can they drive performance?

Sue Bath 9:43

Yeah, I love these questions too, Jim. They are just phenomenal. So, I think it's important that managers become coaches, even more so around what people do well, and, you know, rather than what they're not, right? They have to be coaches around their strengths. And what goes along with being a coach is that frequent feedback and communication. But you have to be sure that it's the right kind, and frequent feedback to have that positive impact. So, I don't know if any of you knew this, but some of you, I'm sure do, that only half, and that's about 47% of employees report that they received feedback from their manager a few times or less in the past year. That's pretty sad. And what's more, only 26% of those employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them to do their work better. Urgh. That's not good, right?

Jim Collison 10:47

Well, the good news is we have an opportunity to make that better. Right?

Sue Bath 10:50


Jim Collison 10:51

Right? OK, good.

Sue Bath 10:52

Here we go! Here we go!

Jim Collison 10:53

Coaches, we have an opportunity to make that better, yes.

Sue Bath 10:55

We have a great opportunity to do that. And here's some questions that can make all the difference, right? So here's, here's one, the conversation about Role and Relationship Orientation can be a great place to start; so get to know your employee and their strengths in this Role and Relationship Orientation Conversation. That's what it's called -- and establish expectations that align with the person's strengths, and the organization overall, we have to have that first, right? So, this conversation typically could last maybe 1 to 3 hours, and it could happen maybe once a year, or when a person's role maybe changes. I think, you know, managers define what success could look like in an individual's role and how their work relates to a coworker's expectations in this conversation. It's really a prelude to maybe a semiannual progress review, which is really that 5th conversation we're going talk about at the end, and it could include a discussion of the employees and maybe the purpose, the goals, metrics, maybe developmental goals, you know, development or strategy, the team and maybe their wellbeing as well. So that's the first, that's the first one, Role and Relationship Orientation.

Sue Bath 12:22

So a second one, or No. 2 conversation, is called a Quick Connect. OK? A Quick Connect is when, in, I think that you're, it's going to be quick, right? This is a brief interaction. It's 1 to 10 minutes. And I think that, you know, employees hate being ignored. Anyone hates being ignored. But they also, I think people want a sense of autonomy. They don't want you to focus on their weaknesses either. They love it when you have an ongoing conversation that is really rooted in their strengths, right? So managers need to establish this Quick Connect conversation through habits. It could be through an email, could be through a phone call; it could be just, you know, a hallway conversation if you're in the same office, or it's just a brief conversation, but it needs to happen at least 1 time a week. So remember that, 1 time a week, 1 to 10 minutes. So I think when managers master this, this habit, employees know that they are on the right track and can proceed with unnecessary barriers that, you know, they might have around their strengths. And I think also managers can give employees timely recognition, right? For their successes, and discuss anything that's getting in their way or maybe they even just want to touch base too.

Jim Collison 13:49

Sue, since we started socializing this through our book and so through some of our writings, this idea of a Quick Connect, it has become, is been added to the Gallup vernacular here in our own management. So I hear people saying this all the time, like, I need a Quick Connect. And you know, it's nice, like with strengths, it's become a framework. These words can become kind of a manager's framework for really framing up what the conversation is. No employee also likes being surprised as to what this meeting is about. And so it gives an opportunity if you're sending an email, Hey, I need 5 minutes for a Quick Connect. Then, then, you know, tells the employee, Oh, I'm just, OK, this is just a 5-minute -- because have you ever gotten that email from your boss, "I need to talk to you"?

Sue Bath 14:33


Jim Collison 14:33

Like, "Oooh," right? And so this, this gives a manager a framework to not surprise their employee. OK. No. 3.

Sue Bath 14:41

Right. I love that. So No. 3, Check-Ins. OK? A little bit different than Quick Connect. Managers and employees review their successes and barriers. They could align and reset priorities here. This should happen once or twice a month, and lasts maybe 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the employee's needs and their job responsibilities. So they're, you know, somewhat a little more planned than a Quick Connect conversation. In this Check-In conversation, it's really probably more about the manager and the employee discussing more expectations, right? And the workload, and goals, and needs, and it's a little bit more specific related to those things. So a little bit longer, and a little bit more specific around expectations, probably. So that's what, that's what a Check-In is.

Jim Collison 15:40

Awesome. No. 4.

Sue Bath 15:41

Yeah, yeah, No. 4: So, Developmental Coaching. This is probably the most difficult type of conversation to master, Jim. It's, it can be as brief as 10 to 30 you know, 10 minutes, but it can go to 30 minutes, but it can have an impact on an employee for their entire career, so it's important. Most effective when the manager, I think, knows the employee well, and understands their unique personality, right? It's -- the purpose of this conversation really is to give the employee direction and support and advice when they're exploring their career and aspirational developmental opportunities. And I think this type of conversation can lead to, you know, some action planning and some training maybe, but managers need to remember to focus on the employee's strengths overall, right, and accomplishments during the conversation, rather than fixate on any sort of weaknesses. This Developmental Coaching conversation is really about the strengths and building upon those, right? And the maximization, so --

Jim Collison 16:52

Sure. No. 5.

Sue Bath 16:54

Progress Reviews, this is No. 5, Progress Reviews. Last, but not least here. This the one that everyone dreads, right? It really --

Jim Collison 17:03

And maybe the one, that's the only one that's getting done, in some cases.

Sue Bath 17:07

Yes, in some cases, it is.

Jim Collison 17:09

Because it's mandatory.

Sue Bath 17:10

It's mandatory. Maybe it's once a year, and you're dreading it.

Jim Collison 17:14

Whether you like it or not.

Sue Bath 17:15

Whether you like it or not. You know, it really is, it could only be dreaded, because most managers have not been using the other 4 Conversations, right? So, and that's what happens. So, I think they can be threatening, and dreaded, and really have some implications for pay and promotions for people. So yeah, it's, it's scary. So I think, of course, managers need to formally review progress and performance and reset expectations. And performance sometimes needs to change, but it should be done by focusing on celebrating successes and preparing for future achievements, and planning for development and growth opportunities. And all the while, linking all of that to their strengths, right? That's what needs to happen. This type of conversation should happen at least twice a year, for 1 to 3 hours. It's a longer conversation.

Sue Bath 18:16

And don't forget that the dialogue needs to be consistent with the other 4 Conversations that you've been having with your employees on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This conversation is not just simply a review, right? It's the progress combos that cover the employee's purpose, their goals, metrics, future development, their strategy, the action plan, and identifying the employee's, you know, some of those best partners on the team and, and just kind of their overall wellbeing in life. Those are the best conversations for a Progress Review, I think.

Jim Collison 18:58

OK, so we've laid out those 5, but how does this look in the real world, real, real world -- easier for me to say. Give us an example.

Sue Bath 19:06

OK, I'm glad you asked this. So a good example, Jim, might be a manager of an employee, who leads with Relator or Woo or Positivity or maybe even Harmony, those strengths that lie in the Relationship Domain. You know, they may want to start a conversation. That manager might want to start a conversation connecting with the person before launching into an agenda and getting down to business. They might want to ask about personal matters, and ask about that person, you know, What, what did you do this weekend? Or how's, how's little Jimmy? You know, and How is the soccer game? And communicating first about personal matters may help them connect later about the task at hand, and lead to higher performance, simply because that employee feels a deeper linkage and comfort level with their manager. I mean, that's pretty easy to do, for the manager, and I think they feel more understood, that employee feels more understood as a person, and that relationship could be a motivator for them. And even though it's not in the exec, you know, the Executing Domain, too, Jim, so that's pretty, pretty amazing.

Sue Bath 20:22

Let's look at an alternate situation here, right? So, let's look at another employee who leads with some Executing Strengths, Responsibility, Focus, Discipline or Deliberative. So the manager may want to provide the employee with an overview of the agenda for the meeting ahead of time, so that they can prepare. They'd like that, right? So therefore, the employee's chances of successful outcomes from the meeting increased because the manager played to those strengths and they were prepared. The employee probably will feel more confident, be ahead of the game, and ready for next steps and action that may be set for the meeting, and the chances for those positive outcomes and success just increase there. So yeah, those are a couple of really good examples that have actually happened, that I've worked with with people.

Jim Collison 21:19

Yeah. And any final thoughts as we wrap this up?

Sue Bath 21:22

Yes, I really like what Don Clifton, our founding father of Positive Psychology and CliftonStrengths, and you know, one of my best all-time mentors said, You know, a leader needs to know his strengths, like a carpenter knows his tools, or a physician knows his instruments at their disposal. You know, what great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths, and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that really describe all leaders. You know, I think that Don was so right with that, Jim, that our primary responsibility as leaders, managers and coaches, is to help people to discover their riches for themselves. And then to guide them to use those gifts in situations that will bring out their best, and make a positive contribution in the world.

Jim Collison 22:26

Yeah, no, it's a great, it's a great reminder, it's a great reminder that the managers are responsible for that as well. Right? And it's a big responsibility. This is one of those things, as I got into managing and I started that here, I realized it's a gigantic responsibility. Oftentimes, organizations see it as a reward for hard work for individual contributors. And it's really a different talent set, right? It's really a different mindset. It's a really hard job. And, and so we know it's a tough one, which is why we wrote It's the Manager, right? We realize that, and we're trying to give some great tools. Sue, Sue, thanks for taking the time today to be a part of this. I appreciate it.

Jim Collison 23:07

With that we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup, at the, on Gallup Access -- sorry, my brain went into old school there. Go out to Just a great reminder. Also out there are the transcripts or the show notes, transcripts and posts for this program. So if you can go back and see what we said, or some of those incredible things you didn't get a chance to write down, those will be available for you as well. When you are there, get signed up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, a great way to stay informed on all things that are going on. Usually at the very bottom of the page, that sign-up is there and you can get that done as well. Don't forget, if you have any questions, you can send us an email: If you want to take one of our courses, or get more training on this, or just see what's available in your area, head out to: And we have a complete list of everything, by region in the world, where those courses are being offered. If you want to join us on Facebook: There's about 15,000 of us out there, talking about this, or if you're not a Facebooker, join us on LinkedIn. Search: "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" on LinkedIn, and I'll let you in that group. You don't have to be a trained coach to be there, just conversation around strengths. Want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for a little bit of a postshow. We have a question on that as well. 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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