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CliftonStrengths® for Managers Report: Coaching Managers

CliftonStrengths® for Managers Report: Coaching Managers

Webcast Details

  • What does Gallup research say about the current effectiveness of leaders' vision and communication?
  • How does the CliftonStrengths for Managers report address managers' need to be good communicators and decision-makers?
  • How can coaches leverage the power of the report in their coaching?

The math for organizational leaders and managers is not favorable. Few employees strongly agree that organizational leadership provides clear direction or makes them enthusiastic about the future -- or communicates effectively. Faced with this difficult landscape, leaders and managers are tasked with being "translators" of what their organizations are doing, as well as making good decisions. Gallup's CliftonStrengths for Managers report is designed for these kinds of managerial and leadership demands. Join Mike McDonald as he builds on previous webcasts to provide an advanced course of additional insights on the CliftonStrengths for Managers report.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 35. This is Part 4 of a 5-part series. Access Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 5 of the series on the CliftonStrengths for Managers report.




All of our research still just gets us into one meaningful [manager-employee] conversation per week.

Mike McDonald, 19:07

The action items ... were structured in a way that we wanted to put the manager in their best position, as our friend Maika would say, to give their strengths away.

Mike McDonald, 20:59

This report does a phenomenal job of really getting team leaders into the confidence and the accuracy of making the best decisions they can as they lead their teams.

Mike McDonald, 38:32

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual, virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on July 12, 2021.

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 that'll take you there. Just sign in with your Google account. If you're listening after the fact and you have questions, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe there on YouTube, and follow, subscribe -- whatever it takes on any podcast app. To make sure you're never missing an episode, search "Gallup Webcasts" and subscribe to us there. Dr. Mike McDonald is our host today. He works as a Senior Workplace Consultant, and, and really hard to get on Called to Coach sometimes. But Mike, welcome back!

Mike McDonald 1:04
Yeah, we, we're on Part 2 of 3, Jim, and full credit where credit's due: I love your umbrella over all of this -- just, quite frankly, caused me to think differently about the report. Just, you know, when we get into the, you know, a lot of time spent on the noun of being a manager. But I think more emphasis on the verb of managing specifically. So I think we have a bandwidth to it that, I'll be quite frank, I think you are extending in a way that moves the report around in a multitude of ways I don't think we originally thought about.

Jim Collison 1:36
We are referring to the CliftonStrengths for Managers report, available as of the end of May 2021 -- depending on when you're listening to this; an important tool. We spent the prior series, or when we think, yeah, the prior series, spent a little time with you talking about the challenges of being a manager, both perks, challenges, and then the manager of managers -- kind of getting set up for that. We spent some time with you talking about how to use the CliftonStrengths for Managers report as a report for themselves, for coaches. We think, as a coach, you're an influencer, you're a leader, you're, you're, you're managing those in a lot of ways -- those you're coaching. So you can and should be using the report for you. Austin came on a few weeks ago -- we haven't published that one yet, but it's coming out soon. And he kind of gave us kind of the overview of why we did what we did with the manager report. And so he speaks to that and gives some great tools. And, and that's kind of, I'm thinking that's kind of the basic course on this.

Jim Collison 2:30
Today, Mike, I really want to spend some time thinking about -- this is the advanced course for the CliftonStrengths for Managers. And so we want to dig in a little bit, get your thoughts on this as we're thinking about how to use this tool with managers. Gonna be a lot of good stats; you're gonna want to get a pen and write some things down. But Mike, get us started a little bit today. As we think about this advanced course for managers, what are the important parts?

Mike McDonald 2:53
Yeah, well, the mouth of the funnel takes us back, Jim, from a really broad perspective that I think really hones itself down to what causes managers to be at their best; where do they actually, you know, continue to find themselves in a pretty tough, tight spot? And, to your point, a lot of data accountability to this. Some we've talked about already, but I do want to hit a reset. I don't know if we can ever embed these too often or too frequently.

Mike McDonald 3:20
But where I'll start off with is the fact that this is, there's a leadership gap. It's, it sounds a little bit cliché to say, but it's true, and our research, you know, really reveals 3 specific features that I think deserve all of our attention. And I know we've talked about these before, but I want to come back to one of them specifically. But here's where we're at right now. Only 22% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization has clear direction for the organization. OK. Gets worse: Only 15% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future. So you know, we've, we're getting in into a little bit of that hope construct of the, the willpower and the waypower. Do we want to get there? Well, we're not very confident emotionally that we can. And that the leadership capacity, you know, do we see a strategy? Do we sense an intentionality and approach that gives us confidence as well?

Mike McDonald 4:14
But the piece that I really want us to hone in on to, Jim, is this third feature: Only 13% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization. And this is where I think the report, and again, as we really feature the specific capacity and potential of the CliftonStrengths for Managers report, it's that translator role of a local team leader. And it can be a really tough spot or it can be the most powerful engagement transmission, arguably, of any organization's culture.

Mike McDonald 4:46
And it's that space where, Jim, you and I as translators, right, our capacity to be able to translate what the organization is doing through meaningful conversations in the teams we lead, but also as we sense the reaction of the teams that we lead, how do we advocate and be able to communicate that back up in an effective way, you know, for senior leaders to be able to make sense, to incorporate and integrate what those, what the reactions, what the reception of our team has come to reflect? If team leaders can't do that, everything shuts down, right. And quite frankly, what it'll do is it attacks their very engagement, because now they can't do either. And so they almost essentially implode as a result of that pressure. So I'd like to aim the report, give them the capacity to think about how they translate culture and decisions on the behalf of their team, on the behalf of the organization, in a way that nobody else can.

Jim Collison 5:37
Mike, if they, if we're struggling with communicating, if managers are struggling with communicating, how important is the framework? You know, we have this, these 5 Coaching Conversations construct, right, that, built around this, and I'm not even sure. I mean, that's kind of a basic tool that I think that, that coaches have a lot of opportunity, as they're working with managers, to coach along those lines, right, to demonstrate that, or to get them at least understanding. Like, because I think some managers don't have any idea how this, this communication is supposed to happen. You know, those, those numbers are probably pretty bleak. If 13% are strongly agreeing that the organization is, the communication's not effective, right? So for most of them, the communication is not effective. They're not leading and inspiring them. And so they have no idea what direction they're going. How important is that 5, those 5 Coaching Conversations?

Mike McDonald 6:30
Well, they're the vehicle, right? So that's, you know, what they really, what they really help us all think about is, What's my delivery mechanism, my outcome, my opportunity to coach and aim those conversations in that translator role, to make sure that we're not just -- I always say this -- we're not just pushing information around. Jim, you and I could just shove content at each other all day long. But I don't know that it's going to change what we actually do in our reception of it. And those conversations, I think, hold us accountable to -- like, to, so for having had this conversation, how do I change my effort on the receiving end? Will it change my decision-making on the receiving end, and I think it helps drive a wedge. And an understanding and information does not equal communication. And that's where those 5 Conversations show up well.

Mike McDonald 7:17
And think about what they represent. The 5 Conversations, if we were to synthesize them, we're talking about expectations, the capacity to continually coach from expectations, to where we're now accountable. And we're not talking about just keeping our job as an expectation and, or about getting a job as an expectation and keeping it as account, point of accountability. We're talking about a much broader perspective of expectations. One of the things that we think about that translator role around expectations is, we don't always have choices about what organizations -- or we don't always have our, you know, complete level of involvement at the organization level about what the organization needs to do to move forward. But we always have choice and expectations about how we receive those decisions. And that's where the manager has to come in, in that translator role.

Mike McDonald 8:11
Jim, you and I, some things we get to weigh in on, but not everything. But we always have a choice, given the right manager conversation, about how we receive and execute that, trust that decision, operate it to the best of our ability, and learn from it for where it works and from where it can be improved, right. And that's where it translates. If we have the right team leader setting those expectations, but and in how we receive and translate those may be tough-but-necessary decisions. The coaching picks up on it from there. And there's a conversion, and then we're accountable to show up with performance and impact or lack thereof. But knowing that we didn't withhold effort or energy along the way. So anyway, the con -- what those 5 Conversations do is we can at least remove effort. We can remove development. We can remove managerial or leader input or impact. We can take those off the table, and now we can really just understand was it, now we can see the strategy for the sake of the strategy, or the decision for the sake of decision and not have to wonder, was it something else? So --

Jim Collison 9:15
We've done some polling around this in the idea of what COVID has done, in the, especially in the area of leadership. Can you talk a little bit about some findings? What have we seen from that?

Mike McDonald 9:25
Well, and that's what really gets me animated about the timing of the report. Not that it, you know, can and couldn't have always been important, but we're just seeing, you know, change, transition, disruption is teaching us a lot of lessons. One of the things that maps to the the absence of where the communication, right, is just not connecting the dots for people is that we asked this question, Jim, throughout 2020. And I think we learned a really, again, hard lesson about this, but just think about the stabilizing factor of the, of coaching at the manager level.

Mike McDonald 10:01
And one of the questions we asked March, May and December of 2020 was a simple, straightforward question. But "My immediate supervisor keeps me informed about what's going on in my organization." That's a pretty strong question -- like, that should never be a "No." It should never be a 1, regardless of what the circumstances are. We asked them on a 1 to 5 level-of-agreement scale. But in March, right, when everything got kind of crazy on us, we were only 50/50. There's only 50/50 of the population that could say they strongly agree versus those that could not. So not good enough to begin with. May, you'd kind of hope there'll be a little bit of a rally effect; there really wasn't. It's, it held serve, which I don't know if we could qualify that as a relative victory or not, because there was a rally effect for a lot of the intentionality of communication and keeping people intact for what was happening as we made a lot of strong decisions. And this, again, is across the United States workforce.

Mike McDonald 10:57
But then what gets my attention is the fact that we fast-forward to December. And we're 50% were saying they strongly agree that their manager keeps them informed about what's happening at the organization. In May, it slipped back to 40%. Like we had a decline of 10% by the end of the year, which is when you would actually think we should be getting better. We should be, you would think, kind of starting to make sense out of circumstances in a way where that -- and again, notion, clearly information and communication have very different definitions or very different experiences in our reception. So that's where I think, you know, both big picture, but also in terms of real-time, current circumstances, we just can't assume that anything is as stable or intact as what our workforce or teams might presenting them to be. We still have, we still have work to do. And we need to keep our foot on the gas to move these discussions forward.

Jim Collison 11:50
We've actually seen some slippage just in, in people feeling like the organization's caring about their, their overall wellbeing. We spent a ton of time this spring, spring of 2021, spring here in the United States, in the Northern Hemisphere anyways, talking about that. And so I think there's some opportunities here, coaches, as you're listening to this and thinking about it. And those are both internal and external coaches, and managers, if you're listening to this, to really have an, to have an effect. We can't go too much farther down. We kind of need to spend some time rallying kind of in bringing this up. There, Mike, maybe there's a little motivational math -- and I love the way you've got this phrased here -- that you can walk us through. We both smile when we say that, but maybe the conclusion isn't what we're thinking. Can you walk us through that?

Mike McDonald 12:39
Yeah, so I get really excited about this. I, this is something I'd like for all of us to lean into. Because, you know, it teaches us how do we use data really well? And we're just going to practice this out against the backdrop of the CliftonStrengths for Managers report. I want to make sure that we had that really active in our mind. Because again, if we use this report well, there's a variety of different ways it fills in, you know, for where managers can really optimize their role to bring out the best of their organization, the best of their teams. And, you know, so Lisa, I love your question, you know, getting us connected to the 5 Conversations and that perspective there. And I'd like to have as lean into that as well.

Mike McDonald 13:16
So here's what we know. Well, let's just play this out. It's a little bit of a storyline. Let's say, you know, a question you can ask, you know, one of your potential clients is just to, you know, ask them how many associates they have in their organization, OK. Get a number there. And then follow up with that. And just have them estimate, how many, have the, have your client estimate how many hours per month are spent that -- to the best of their ballpark figure -- how many hours a month are spent coaching conversations or in coaching conversations intended to motivate each associate to do better work? Right. So for some organizations, it's funny, Jim, when I ask some clients this question, they'll be like, you know, there's two responses: One is they aren't going to calculate a response; some already are starting to think about, like, "I think the answer might be zero," right? I mean, just right out of the gate, like it's a pretty graphic, you know, question whether the math or whatever explained anything or not.

Mike McDonald 14:12
Now, whatever that total is, right, how many associates and how many hours a month, you know, do we think each associate, you know, is spending being coached? Annualize it. Take, take that number times 12. These are going to be big numbers, Jim, regardless of wherever you start off. It could be 50 people in an organization, 20 people in an organization. The number is going to be big. But here's where we use the data. If we take that total that you come up with, and we take it times 0.8, that's the amount of hours that are actually by our research wasted over the course of the year with the best of intent in our coaching. So if you think about that, right, if you think that 8 out of every 10 hours that we think we're coaching or spending time with people on our team, under the assumption that certainly the conversation is moving performance, when we ask the U.S. workforce, a large 80% are saying it doesn't, right.

Mike McDonald 15:12
So that math gets really convicting. I can even figure it up with my own team, and it's uncomfortable. So the point is the edge of accountability. We're talking about thousands of hours, literally thousands of hours are wasted. Because here's the other thing, gang, that we need to lean into: We would double that total. We'd actually double that total, because that total only represents the person being coached; it doesn't represent the coach itself. So now it really gets strong. Jim, we had one client that we worked with -- now it's a sizable client, a Fortune 500 company. But they've calculated out on this math that the man hours, the man hours that were wasted in one year, it was a century. It was a century of man hours, potentially, that were wasted in one year.

Mike McDonald 15:58
So if you all, you know, hopefully that that follow-through step-by-step made sense. And I can repeat it, but this is a great way for you all to impress upon your clients, impress upon those team leaders that you're working with: The report is not a superficial, you know, novelty act where, you know, we talk about, Jim, when you get into Name, Claim and Aim. It's, you know, it's Aim, Aim and Aim, you know, really, if we position it well on the other side of what they've already experienced. But the data holds us accountable to that aim.

Jim Collison 16:28
Mike, I really like the way you phrased that because I've been, you know, I've said several times, sometimes we spend a lot of time in the Name it, Name it and Name it, you know, just talking about it. And right out of the chute, for managers, 3 sections: what, you know, things I should do; things I shouldn't; and some action items. I mean, it's, it's not, I've had a lot of coaches, you know, say, "Well, you know, how do we work with this?" Well, do. It's pretty simple, right, as we boil down to it. For the manager that you're working with, it gets right to the point. And so you've got 10 -- instead of 5, you've got 10 themes to start working through. And Mike, I think some great, you know, some great places to focus on. Talk a little bit about that as well.

Mike McDonald 17:17
Yeah, no, I want to take a sense of that, you know, that on the other side of the math and the accountability, this is where the report comes in. And this is where I want to take us back in and just kind of start backing out the report up against some of the math that we've put in front of us already. And this is where now, all of a sudden, I think we see the report through a different set of eyes, Jim, because we know, you know, what's present, what's absent. What's at risk, where's the reward, if, again, to your callout, we use the report well?

Mike McDonald 17:46
Now many of you are familiar with the report and, and, you know, what it represents. But just as a quick reminder, and a tour, I'll try to quickly just advance and build off of what Austin already shared. But you can see the very attitude that comes out of the report. It's, it's not, I would say while there is discovery inside of it, it's not as broadly discovery-oriented is what their first Full 34 would be. Because we're making assumptions that we're able to advance on that. So even the description or definition of the Top 10 strengths, it's just a straight shot. You know, and, and without the assumption of possibilities, more so the assumption of realities that these, these are the things that you are, right. And so the language is all reflective of that, very action-oriented.

Mike McDonald 18:30
The one thing that I wanted to take us into is already, you know -- and again, we can go back to Lisa, to your point -- if you think about the backdrop of this translative of role for team leaders or coaching, you know, we can go through even just the first portion of our conversation, Jim. And if I'm a manager, and I'm listening to this, I'm like, "I have no shot." Like I don't even know, like you've just put a tidal wave of reality up in front of me. And if anything, you've talked me out of my success, more than you've talked me into it. But the language and the attitude of the report -- and you all know this well, but I want to reemphasize it -- is still boiling down, all of our research still just gets us into one meaningful conversation per week. So whether it's communicating effectively; whether it's keeping me informed about the decisions of our organization; whether it's about the hours that are, that potentially could be wasted, it can translate down to just simply one meaningful conversation per week. That's, at least going back to the Quick Connect. Right? That's our Quick Connect conversation and our 5 discussions operationalizing everything through that.

Mike McDonald 19:38
Now the key question or the key ingredient in here is, What is meaningful? Right, what is meaningful? We can have lots of conversations, but what's actually meaningful inside of that? That's, Jim, where I think the report allows us to really optimize this notion of "meaningful" in a way that has been most advanced as much as anything out of the inside of the report. And that takes us on into, quite frankly, the structure of the action items and what they would reveal to us. So one of the things that we can get inside of, if we take ourselves to the action items -- I'm going to pick on myself here, but Ideation, right? You all know the, you know, how this strength contributes to my success. It gives me some great insight there. Austin shared this; I've tried to reinforce it in lots of conversations. We don't make assumptions that these might be who you are; we just make the assumption this is who you are. And now you all can coach, you know, the context around that and let them push back, in terms of whether, how much of this is really true about themselves.

Mike McDonald 20:36
But again, that's kind of the attitude of a manager. Like, you know, to a certain degree, you have some permission to tell me who I am. And we've already gained trust already in the first report to get ourselves into this at an accelerated rate. But on the other side of how the strength contributes, how it gets in the way, you know, a lot of our Help Center language, we get into the action items. We spent some time in there the last time, Jim, and I know this is a feature that caught your attention as much as anything, but the action items are really an attempt, or were structured in a way that we wanted to put the manager in their best position, as our friend Maika would say, to give their strengths away, to give their strengths away. So when these action items, I can look at what's here for my Ideation strength and immediately operationalize my strength to be an outcome, to make a contribution, to be an output that advances my team's success. So that's terrific, right? Now it's commoditized in that aspect.

Mike McDonald 21:35
But here's where we try to take it a step further. And I want, and as we think about how we coach through the report specifically, is, as I give my strength, away, that I do it through the vehicle of asking specific questions and involving my team in a specific activity or activities. The reaction of my team, in their answers, in their involvement to those activities and those coaching questions and conversations, in turn, then, Jim activates my Ideation, right? So when we think about, so here's, here's an example. Ideation. My report is encouraging me to ask lots of "What if?" questions. And what it's saying is, is that for me to give my Ideation away to my team is to ask them questions about, "Well, what if we don't try this? What if we do try this? What if we fail? What if we succeed," right? So all of those things really help embolden my team, make them more open to different pathways, different solutions, creativity and innovation they may not have been before. But just like a good coach would, I'm leading them down a trail of bread crumbs asking these questions.

Mike McDonald 22:46
Now here's what's interesting, then Jim, is their response to the "What if"s? "What if we don't? What if we do? What if we fail? What if we succeed?" feeds back into my Ideation. So then we get this cycle, right, of strengths awareness to application, but now the team gets drawn in to be part of it. And the whole thing positively and productively accelerates itself forward. So that then becomes vehicles for communication, vehicles for problem-solving, vehicles for every, every one of those things, those that the data reveal to us, the meaningful conversation per week. Now all of a sudden, we've got all of these things on the table. These, these decimal points, these sad data points don't have to hold us hostage. We can push back and, quite frankly, succeed on through them.

Jim Collison 23:32
Mike, let me give an example from mine, since we gave one from yours, right. So Arranger No. 1 for me, and the report came out May 27. That day I was downloading and reading it through. The Summit came June 8 and 9. And I had this opportunity in the Summit -- I've said this before on the webcast, but I'll say it in this example -- the Summit software allowed us to have these little 15-minute increments out. And I opened up my calendar, and they filled up. And some, the very first piece of advice from the, to what contributes to my success says this: "Managing projects with many moving parts does not overwhelm you. Just the opposite. You get energy from organizing processes, assigning roles to team members" (now in this case, those two I don't do in the community, but this I do), "and adapting to meet the needs of the current moment." Like, could you not explain my role in what I do any better, right.

Jim Collison 24:26
And I began to think through that lens, and then I practiced it on these 15-minute calls. Man, like, those were energizing. They were, they were, they were, they were good for me. I hope they were good for the folks on the other end! I got a lot of good, positive comments right back from them. But it change, it, Mike it, sometimes we think we don't change. It changed the way I thought about the way I interacted with the community. And now, instead of trying to do emails or put it on Facebook, I'm just like, "Can we talk? Can we call? Can I call you? You got 10 minutes? Can we do this now?" And has made it, in my management style for community management, has made just, at least for me, has made all the difference in the world in being able to support people, right? It's an actionable item, pulled it right out of the report, gave me an opportunity. It influenced my thinking on this.

Jim Collison 25:22
And I think there's gonna be moments like that as, for coaches who are coaching managers, as they're working through some of these processes, to be like, OK, where are some areas that you can make minor change? That was a minor change, right, that had major implications. So just a great, for me, just a great example of how to put that, that process into place right away. Didn't plan it that way. I wish I could say, "Oh, yeah, that was a strategy I put together." No, I don't, I don't operate that way. And I'm opportunist. But I wait for things to happen. And then I take advantage of what the, what's given at the time. But how powerful was that for me just in that one sentence? And then thought, "Oh, well, maybe I should do some more of this." You know, and I'm not going back. Like, the concrete has been laid, the rebar, isn't it? I am sticking, I'm gonna stick to my guns. And as, as long as I can do it, and I have time left in the day, if you've got a problem, you're getting a phone call from me, right, in the community. So don't make up problems, OK, don't make up problems so I'll call you.

Mike McDonald 26:29
Well, here's what I love, so, you know, Jim, that, and everybody in this conversation knows this. But the, the, the No. 1 enemy is -- whether it's perception or reality -- is managers will say they don't have the time. Right? But if you look at the efficiency that's created through the awareness in that advice, I mean, it could have been easy for someone like you to say, "Oh, I surely don't have the time to just pick up the phone and call people." But when you look at the output, and actually look, quite frankly, at the speed by which you're able to create impact, there's no better, there's no way to have a better substitute for it. Everything good happens on the other side of that, but it starts to move that easy default of "I don't have enough time" completely to the wayside. I would totally endorse your testimony.

Mike McDonald 27:12
Do you know how many times I've asked those "What if?" questions like on the other side of the second that I saw that report? And I don't have to -- here's the thing, I don't ever have to stop. Like I can go to those 4 questions almost literally in every single exchange that I have with anybody, and emerge with a really productive output, a meaningful conversation as we continue to underscore, highlight and italicize that. But it's a, it's, it's actually, if these things work well -- we all know this -- culture and performance should get simpler. It shouldn't get harder. And I think sometimes that we think about adding sophistication and bells and whistles to things but it shouldn't feel that way, and the, and the, the ease and the excellence certainly shouldn't be compromised.

Jim Collison 27:54
Mike, let me bring in a question from chat. Because I think this applies. We'll, we'll do some real-world figuring this out. Marina says, In my, in many organizations, the decision about going back to the office is being left to each team. So the manager has to negotiate it with the team. What are your insights and ideas about those conversations? And we think, you know, that's kind of a difficult conversation. If you, we'll, we'll think of a hypothetical manager here thinking through the tools that are available in the report to them. You're coaching them. How do we approach it for this specific conversation, and others that are difficult? What are some tips to approaching that kind of conversation?

Mike McDonald 28:34
Yeah, it's a, it's a great one, right? So here's what we know. And I'll just keep going back to the fundamentals. But we know that ownership -- the best of our coaching produces ownership. Now, it doesn't mean we, that doesn't, ownership doesn't mean we get a free pass, or we have full rights to completely say exactly how our work dynamic is going to unfold. You know, obviously, the reality of the role that we occupy is gonna have a large, the largest piece to it, right? We still have internal, external stakeholders that are primary to, you know, what does "Return to office" as a strategy actually look like?

Mike McDonald 29:09
A couple of our data points, though, that we do you know about, the 6 out of 10 in the U.S. at the associate level are all expecting and hoping for a more fluid, broad work dynamic where they're not singularly resigned to going back and traditionally only working on site. Seven in 10 managers, Jim, actually are endorsing this. So managers are even more in favor of it than, than associates are. So that's good news. Clearly, we all saw maybe some myths and stereotypes get pushed aside that, you know, if people worked from home that maybe they'd slack off more. And really to the contrary, we saw a very different experience there.

Mike McDonald 29:49
Marina, as I get closer and closer to your question, some, some really fascinating data that I thought was useful -- and it still tells the story through everything we're talking about -- is we asked those who only work on site about the frequency, about the frequency of feedback that they received. We asked those who are hybrid, right, working to some degree, you know, either home or on site. And then those who only work from home, you know, the frequency of the feedback they receive. The group, this was interesting. Now, the group who works only on site significantly got a higher frequency of feedback. The group who are hybrid got less, and the group who were singularly and only working from home got less.

Mike McDonald 30:40
Now that wasn't quite so fascinating. Here's where it flipped around. And Lisa, I'm seeing your commentary in the chat about "meaningful." Buckle up, because this is where it got really interesting. The group that only works on site that said that they got the most frequent form of feedback or the most frequent feedback actually said that -- we asked, we asked each of those three populations, "How meaningful is the feedback you receive?" They said that they get the least meaningful feedback out of the 3 groups. So while if I only work on site, I get more feedback, I actually consider it to be less meaningful. The hybrid group, who is slightly behind for the frequency actually had the highest, highest percentage of those who strongly agree that the feedback was meaningful. And then those who only work from home said that their, their feedback, they strongly agreed that their feedback was meaningful, not as much as the hybrid, but more than the people who work on site.

Mike McDonald 31:33
So if we take this all back to the core, it still goes to intentionality. And I would contend, here's what I think is happening underneath the surface. That Jim, I think that if, for people who are leading teams, and we're all just on site, I think, I think we take our conversations for granted. Jim, you're my team leader. You probably just figure, "Oh, I'll see Mike at some point in time. You know, or I'll see him lots of times; I'll have lots of opportunities. And I would contend that maybe you just don't put as much into that conversation and really maximizing that space and place to coach really effectively. You just assume that organically, it's just gonna happen without that intentionality. I would contend then that as we get more remote, the intentionality increases, because I don't think we take those opportunities for granted. And we had to create them on purpose, which I think means that we move into it with a more, with a stronger value proposition.

Mike McDonald 32:22
So Marina, that's where I think, I think we just take away excuses as fast as we can. And I think, I think that I don't think there's anything magic about the geography; it's just the intentionality and the assumptions that we either do or don't make. That would be my contention, I guess, in terms of what we're talking about.

Jim Collison 32:39
Well, and I think we've got an opportunity to look at this report from, through a manager's lens and begin to think through those 4 Needs of Followers. And so if I need to create stability, because this is really an exercise in regaining stability, through that lens, through the manager's lens, then how do I take these, these applications? Again, going back to Arranger for me, the very first action item says, "Define and communicate each team member's priorities." It's a great reminder that I do that pretty well. Like, that's an area, when I think about a communication style, that, that doesn't have anything to do with being an Arranger; has everything to do in this context with how am I going to communicate, so I can tell the team, "I am here to help you, as we make this very difficult transition," if that's going to be the case, "I'm here to help you communicate those and, and define the priorities for you. That's the promise I'm going to, I'm going to make, to make stability on our team."

Jim Collison 33:39
And by the way, I don't think, I don't think using those words in that way are wrong. Use that framework, right. Teach these managers to really provide those 4 Needs and how do we see these, you know, these are all like data slices going through. We've already added the "manager role" slice into this, into this, then how do we bring the needs of followers in and start addressing each one of those? How do we provide hope as we, as we go back? Right. So I think there's some great opportunities, Mike. There's no right answer for any person, but coaches, as you're helping your managers work through this, maybe that 4 Needs lens is a way for them to say OK, what do you pull out -- as you're looking at these action items -- what can you pull out to help, and Marina to your question, to help communicate this to your team as you're going back?

Mike McDonald 34:32
Yeah, could not agree more. That's the thing I love about, you know, again, the report is, I think what you start off with the report, as managers buy into it and believe in it, then I think we can actually talk about hope. I think we can talk about trust, stability, compassion, etc. But, and you all can, you all can keep me accountable. Call me out on this. But I, I think if you would have, Jim, if you would have coached me, if you would have started off with, "Hey, Mike, let's talk about hope. Let's talk about trust, stability." If you would have started with that, I'd be like, "Jim, come on. What do you, what do you, who are you kidding? Like, OK, how can I, how am I going to generate hope?"

Mike McDonald 35:12
But if you start off with the report first, and help me understand it and buy into it and start to forecast, if not collect evidence of success along the way, probably pretty quickly could be like, "Hey, Mike, let's talk about hope for a second. Do you realize that what you're actually doing here" -- and Lisa, we can go back to the 5 conversations; they generate hope -- "and do you realize you're actually constructing hope; you're architecting hope; you're reverse engineering hope?" I'll believe you then. But I think the positioning of how, you know, how we can actually buy into it and believe in our own abilities to then manufacture those 4 key experiences. For our teams, I think the right order matters. But if we get the right order, we can actually do it, which is pretty amazing. Right? Again, I think people would be pretty impressed and maybe surprised about the fact that they can create hope in an authentic way, not just the superficial pep rally or halftime speech.

Jim Collison 36:05
During, you know, really during the height of COVID last year, we went on overdrive to create leadership. You were a big part of helping me do that in the community, but creating webcasts to provide stability. We knew if we could communicate -- it was chaos out there. And, and Matt Mosser, who's been on before, he's, he's, he manages both of us, said, "Go full time. Make as much as you need to make to keep everybody, you know, to keep everybody stable." And man, Mike, did that fit my Arranger just perfectly to be able -- all kinds of things going on, all at the same time. I was in heaven. It was the best. People always ask me, "How was it?" I'm like, "Oh, man." I don't know if I want to do it again. But I sure had, using those talents, I sure had fun deploying those in a way that, that helped me make better decisions, to help us and coaches make better decisions this time.

Jim Collison 36:59
And we spent a ton of time digging in on inspiring, building cultures that inspire, right? We went back to the basics: How do you build a strengths-based organization? I think about those, those things that we went through. A lot of what we have today came out of that time. And so as a leader, right, as a manager, as a community manager, my job to keep that. There's some common barriers, though, like, we're all, these, these, these managers are making decisions. What are they up against, Mike, and, and what are some, what are some things in their favor too?

Mike McDonald 37:28
Yeah, that's, that's where I wanted to, you know, I love this. And I think that's where the value of, again, the report can start to reveal so much success for managers. And I'm going to go back to, you know, I think we've, Jim, you've talked about him before, but Dr. Daniel Kahneman, Gallup Senior Scientist Emeritus. Some of you, if you really want to put the work into it, Nobel Prize winner, wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, but obviously one of the world's greatest authorities in behavioral economics. And a large part of his work was really centered around the notion of decision-making. And he had this great quote, taught us all at Gallup a great lesson, but that organizations are decision factories. Whatever we think Gallup does, whatever we think any organization we work with actually does as a commodity, as a service, as a product isn't really what they manufacture. It's not really what they supply. It's, it's decisions. And the most well-run organizations have the highest volume of great decisions and the highest quality of great decisions.

Mike McDonald 38:31
And I think this report does a phenomenal job of really getting team leaders into the confidence and the accuracy of making the best decisions they can as they lead their teams. And so, you know, when we think about the swath of just what's up against a manager, barriers to their own decisions -- you all know so much of this well already, but -- biases, confirmation biases, groupthink biases, success biases, a notion, a host of biases that get in their way. As well-intentioned as they might be, they actually inadvertently push performance away. A lot of team leaders fail to include the right people in their decision-making process that, you know, a lot of leaders don't quite fully understand, Hey, this is, this is a perspective about the decision that I bring that adds value. But I'm not very complete. There's some things, Jim, I'm Empathy No. 34. I will typically miss the emotional component to How does the decision feel in our capacity to execute on? I can get the other pieces right -- the Thinking and the Executing -- but I fail to think take into account how are people going to feel along the way, which is going to be vital. Lack of accountability, right?

Mike McDonald 39:40
Hey, it's easy for me to be part of the kickoff to the decision, but then if it goes south, maybe, maybe I start to, you know, distance myself. "Well, I think it was more Jim's idea now than it was mine," you know. The organizational structure, you know, can the, or does the organization really support effective decision-making in the transmission and interaction of people as they collectively make decisions? Unnecessary data -- we take in too much. And I think our strengths allow us to filter in the most important pieces of data and filter out the things that are -- what would I say? -- filter out the things that just are static, right, that might be recreational that don't really add value. Other areas that get in the way of decision-making is inconsistency with the organization's purpose, our mission, our strategy, our culture and values. So we might win the battle, but we'll lose the war, I guess, proverbially there.

Mike McDonald 40:34
And then, quite frankly, just the follow-through. We can make a decision, point in time, we can say "Yes" or "No," or this is what it should be. But on the other side of that -- the transition into the decision, the transition out of that decision can be sorely lacking, but it doesn't have to be this way if we as coaches in specifically using the report within through managers, we can position them up against each and every one of these barriers, make their decisions as effective and powerful and performance-oriented as possible.

Jim Collison 41:02
So Mike, that's the bad news. The good news? Well, one, Jaclynn and I have spent a bunch of time in the last, you know, 6 months talking about teamwork and values, right? So we got some content for you there if you're, if you're, like, struggling a little bit, helping teams kind of come back to life as they maybe come back together in person or post-COVID, however that fits out. But what, we've done a little bit of research on this, and we've got a few things to say. Why don't you walk us through that, Mike?

Mike McDonald 41:28
Yeah, I'll I'll bring our conversation to a conclusion here with, when we think about the 3 Keys, we would say there's 3 Keys to helping managers make great decisions. And as you all are familiar with the CliftonStrengths for Managers report, I would love to have you think about how those reports support the ability for team leaders to make great decisions. And, and here's where we can help team leaders be at their best when it comes to making great decisions: One is Helping them know their limits. So No. 1 is Helping them know their limits. We'll talk more about that. Second is to Apply critical thinking -- at the individual and the collective level, right, apply critical thinking. And then the third is the Use of evidence. We would say specifically, analytics-driven evidence. But evidence is synonymous with performance in the way that we're thinking through this. So 1) Know your limits; 2) Apply critical thinking; and 3) The use of empirical, analytics-driven evidence/performance.

Mike McDonald 42:29
So let's unpack those just a little bit, Jim, as we think about the context of each of those 3 opportunities, and how they can be supported through the CliftonStrengths for Managers report. But when we're talking about knowing your limits, we're helping, or we're wanting to make sure that we're being aware of what we're capable of. Or I'll say this in the, in the point of reference to a manager: Being aware of what you are capable of on your own is the first key to making great decisions, right? So where are we at our best through our strengths? But also understanding where you are most vulnerable to poor decisions is crucial. Knowing strengths, recognizing weaknesses, obviously, is going to help us identify when we need help.

Mike McDonald 43:04
And this is where I think it gets key, Jim, is to understand where we draw on our best decision-making partners. So Jim, you and I have a nice amount of overlap in how we see things. But then we have very, like very distinct and different strengths that, quite frankly, blend and combine in a very effective way. But I have to know that about you. And you need to know that about me, right? Otherwise, you have, you've had a lot of success making your own decisions, Jim. I've had a fair amount making my own decisions. But there's a whole nother chapter and level out there where we start to bring leadership teams together, and leader and team together in that collective decision-making process. But first and foremost, we have to know where is our pattern of struggle around decision-making as consistent as our pattern of success.

Mike McDonald 43:48
The second feature that we talked about is this notion of being able to Apply critical thinking. And here, again, where we see the antidote for CliftonStrengths, but many leaders and managers are subject to groupthink -- we know this, right? It can be really easy for assumptions to lead the way in that style of leadership, and not so surprisingly, I wake up one morning and the team I have assembled around me are all people who think, feel and behave exactly the same way I do. So I've just -- surround, attracted and surrounded myself with a series of clones, right? Now, but that's, so I may think that that's great, because they all make sense to me. They all think and, you know, again, see and feel and behave, interact with the world in the way I do. But that doesn't really produce great decisions, because now we're all in the same mindset. So how does the Strengths for Managers report, how do we in our coaching help understand and reveal to that manager, you have to have diversity of thought; you have to have multiple sources of input for that decision to be collectively as powerful as it possibly can be?

Mike McDonald 44:55
So applying rigorous critical thinking that challenges assumptions and the status quo, particularly -- now we get into, you know, different definitions of perspectives about diversity -- but especially working with a diverse group with different perspectives does result in better, more effective decisions, more angles, more perspectives, more insights makes the decision-making process, buy-in and execution more complete. So I love the way it really reassembles what does critical, collective thought now look like?

Mike McDonald 45:26
And the last piece, Jim, and this is where the only reason that the 12 questions of engagement deserve to exist, the only reason that the 34 strengths deserve to exist is it's something better happens as the application of those things join forces. And so when we talk about using evidence, really what we're talking about is the presence or absence of performance. So when we're making these decisions, what are past performances and evidence that we can lean on that would help drive this forward? How do we incorporate those into our decision-making process? Or where's the absence, right? Hey, we're trying this. And we had a pretty quick evaluation standpoint. And it's very thin; it's not showing up with the impact that we thought it would.

Mike McDonald 46:06
So using performance efficiently, using those empirical points of evidence more efficiently requires time, intention, discipline, and maybe a consultant or a coach to actually understand how performance influences and informs the decision-making process, the success or the struggle that it would imply. But those are three features. And again, when we think about the key role of managers to produce the best decisions with and through their team, I love what the report does to put some really hard edges about how leadership through the art and science of decision-making can be a very powerful output.

Jim Collison 46:43
I think this is another area where the manager of managers -- we spent a little bit of time talking about that -- can help their managers. This is where it gets critical that manager of managers isn't checking out on this process. But just this week, I was, or late last week, early this week been thinking through a problem that I had, and I reached out to two of my most trusted manager of managers to say, Hey, can I, here's the situation, let me walk this through a little bit. Can you give me a little bit of advice on this and help me? And now that I'm looking at this, this is exactly what they walked me through in this process, right? It's thinking through. And they may not even have been knowing they were doing that. Not trying to make it sound more serendipitous than it is. But Mike, where did this, where's this framework come from? If folks wanted to find more on it, where would they, where could they go?

Mike McDonald 47:32
Well, Jim, this, this may shock you, but that, that favorite book that we shot, I should -- and shame on me for not mentioning this in the beginning -- that crazy book called It's the Manager would take us on into this construct. So feel free to, you know, keep going back through the multiple chapters there and find your way through the decision-making process.

Jim Collison 47:51
Mike, anything else, as we kind of think about landing this, this concept, this idea, this, this advanced course for coaches to help, help managers, any final thoughts?

Mike McDonald 48:02
Well, just, as a wrap, Jim, as we think about where the report lands, I think most effectively against this backdrop of the decision-making process, just be thinking about these 4, 4 touchpoints: Helping those managers collaborate with people that have different viewpoints and perspectives. The strengths philosophy is really successful and effective there. Helping them break the decisions down into smaller parts, right. We all have a preferential style of how we consume thought, and how we create thought. And the ability to digest that and translate it in the most effective fashion to our team is vital. 3) Using performance or evidence to stay focused on the end goal, right? Those coaching touchpoints, the frequency of them and the content of them, reveals to us the evidence and the performance indicator that says we're either off track or on track.

Mike McDonald 48:53
And then the, this goes back to our 5 Conversations framework, but expectations relative to accountability. The fourth touchpoint would be, Compare the actual outcome with the end goal and just analyze any gaps. So it's, it's unbelievable how organically the nature of our best decisions really flows through those 5 Conversations. And again, we would take us back to the report being the centerpiece to all of this.

Jim Collison 49:18
Mike, I think about the management team that you and I are on. And I think most of the conversations as of late have been dominated around this idea of managing and wellbeing. And we're living that in our own, in our own kind of group. We just did a wellbeing survey internally to the organization like, how are we feeling right now? How's that, like, I mean, I think there's, when you talk about this evidence, or this analytics-based evidence, right, we now have -- and it's not the number, but it is a number, right that we can begin to start bouncing things up against as we're thinking about we as managers who have to make these decisions with those that we manage. What do those numbers mean?

Jim Collison 50:02
And I just saw on Friday, our Q12, our own Q12 came out this -- didn't come out, but the, the administration of it came out this, this last Friday. And again, another number for us, for managers, like coaches, for those that you manage who are managers, what, what, what do you have access to? What are the things that will tell you? I think sometimes, Mike, we feel like we have to make these decisions in a vacuum when there is data and there's past performance to talk about, right, to say, Hey, how's, how's this worked in the past? We've done this before. Let's -- and there may be times, right, when there is no precedent. But, but I think super important to, to know what we know, right?

Mike McDonald 50:44
Yep. Well, that's, and that's where I think this, it's the process of all of this, that is so important. And this is what I appreciate about the report and what I appreciate even about this notion of decision-making, it's a pretty, it's not too far off of just change management, Jim -- and I shouldn't say "just change management," but one of the, one of the key takeaways that I really was struck with last year that I'd never thought about it before -- so maybe this adds value to the conversation, but you all may have gotten there a long time before I did -- but when you think about change or a decision, they're really just singular points in time. And, and what really shows up where success reveals itself is what about the transition up to that point in time, and maybe even more importantly, the transition out of that point in time? So I always think about this, right?

Mike McDonald 51:28
So about a year ago, now, a little over a year ago, I was traveling all the time. And in literally, in the space of a weekend and on one day, we weren't even going into the office. Right? So that's one day, that's a one-day shift, point in time. But what was it about the transition going into that that stabilized and set me up? 4 Needs of Followers showing up that processed me through that; decision-making that processed me through that, to where that point time wasn't so turbulent? And then how was I able to gather myself on the other side of that, and transition out of that, to where everything showed up with success? But I think sometimes we get too, too focused on the day or the point in time, and we miss, you know, all of the input and the output to what happened on both sides of it. So --

Jim Collison 52:17
Well, and if I think back to those days, Mike, as a team, on the team that we're on, we began to meet more regularly and have conversations like, OK, the world's changing. Who's going to do things, like, who's gonna do what now? And how are we going to? And I remember these big, open conversations among us that where it was a new world, and like, OK, what, how are we shifting? How are we thinking about equipment? What are we thinking about in, in how we're gonna communicate? And I remember Matt spending lots of time with us, saying, you better be communicating this. Like, where's, as a manager of managers, you know, where is this happening?

Jim Collison 52:53
But to take it back to the report, I bet if we did, if we deconstructed those days on top of this -- didn't exist back then. But I think if we deconstructed those days on top of this, I think we would find a lot of our, our bests coming out. And people taking those roles and responsibilities to do things, these new things that had to be done. You know, I think about Maika, our friend Maika who, who jumped on and took the, took on kind of the reorg around ASC [Gallup Global Strengths Coach course] in the way we taught with with a bunch of people. Her Strategic No. 1 played a, I'm sure played a big gigantic role in making sure. And then experience she'd had helped with it. But how great was that to look back now? And then superimpose what we see in our own leaders really playing out those strengths. I think that'd be a fun exercise to do is --

Mike McDonald 53:48
It would go do, do a little bit of a diagnostic on some of that and just do it to lay the template over and just say, Where'd they show up? I think it would, the study of success, I think would confirm itself.

Jim Collison 53:59
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think, Mike, with that, we'll call it a wrap. Antonia, one -- maybe one more question just before we go: Any tips here as a coach for these people/leadership teams? So Mike, you're, let's give a little encouragement. You're a coach; you're coaching teams right now. Things going in -- besides what we've already talked about here, as a, as a manager to coaches, like you are and I am as well, what kind of tips would you give or what kind of encouragement would you give on the way out?

Mike McDonald 54:29
Yeah, and Antonia, I want to make sure, are you connecting this back to your previous, to the comment right before that, in terms of having difficulty tracking changes over time and then how do, how do you coach people through those leadership teams and that transition? Jim, do you, are able to -- I want to, are those separate or those -- ?

Jim Collison 54:49
We'll give it, we'll give her a second just to, just to pop that in. So here we go.

Mike McDonald 54:55
Yep, connecting to the previous comment! All right. Gosh, Antonia, I think this goes back. So I don't think, so, certainly you're gonna get caught in transition and change, you know, that -- well, you don't have to, but there are times where those survey types can change. But that's, those are reference points. Right. So when you think about the numbers or the data, those are all intended to provoke the right conversations. Their, their intent, you know, so it's, it's a catalyst, if you will. Even if you think about the Q12 and the philosophical approach to it, yes, we want the data. We have to ask the right questions so that the conversations are aligned, and therefore the right outcomes show up. But we never skip the conversation. Right?

Mike McDonald 55:45
And so what I would, what I would encourage you, Antonia, is as you think about, you know, if you're caught, if you have leaders or, and teams caught in survey changes, or a switch to different providers, still use the data, which is fine. But still take it back to, you know, so what, what was, what, what was the context that you were thinking about that question, and your score in? And then, Jim, I would contend, the all-time, leading, the all-time No. 1 question we could ever ask to drive engagement is, "What's the '5' look like?" Or whatever the scale is, don't mess around with anything less than the highest point of it, because you're going to know that's where the majority of your performance shows up. So as you think about the stability of how you're coaching, Antonia, across those people and leadership teams, and those changes and transitions, as long as you have those features working for you, I think you're gonna be at least, I think you'll still be productive throughout that change and transition.

Jim Collison 56:42
Good advice. And good catch. I didn't see that question above it, Mike. So good, good partnership in this and, and good catch. Thanks for clarifying that. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have, including this report -- CliftonStrengths for Managers report -- available for those who upgrade out on Gallup Access. Go to And you can get all the information there, including what's available and, and think a little sample report if you want it to -- but just get the thing. It's so super valuable. You'll want to have it kind of in your toolbox. For coaching, master coaching or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, just send us an email: and we'll get you set up for that as well. Follow all the webcasts, and Mike, the series, we'll conclude the series here in a couple weeks -- actually early August, I think now, at this point. But we have a wellbeing series that's coming that's going to follow the book. So a lot of folks were like, Hey, can we do -- I always think of like a book report, you know, where everybody reads it and then you do a report on it. Ryan Wolf, one of our wellbeing experts at Gallup, is going to join me with some guests. And we're gonna have a 5-part series on wellbeing. So you want to check that out on Eventbrite. Go to The first one is scheduled. No. 2 posts tomorrow at 6. They're coming up here a little bit later in August, September and October. We'd love to have you join us.

Mike McDonald 58:01
Jim, can I do, can I do a trailer for that? Just real quick. Like, I will tell you all, Jim, because you translate this to practical advice for this group that, you know, at an elite level, that book I am telling you, I'm at the, at the, in the, in the back of the book, there are coaching questions for each of the 5 elements of wellbeing. And Jim, you've looked at them and I've looked at them. They are -- I'm going to use this lazy word: They are legit. Like I just looked, I saw those questions. I was like, I'm taking these right now. And I'm asking them. Sometimes you'll see like out in the, right, in the broad domain of wellbeing, you'll look at -- I look at some stuff, I'm like, that's so light. Like, that's so, that's not gonna change anything with my team. If you're, if you're not, anyway, get the, get the book. Take a look at those coaching questions. I think you'll actually convince the leaders you're working with: they can coach wellbeing in a way that they never would have considered themselves being able to before. So I'll stop there with the endorsement. I really raised an eyebrow when I saw that. I was like, wow, this is legit.

Jim Collison 58:57
Well, if you need some accountability to work through the group or to work through the book, this would be the time to do that -- 5-part series that's coming up here, again, August, September and October. We'd love to have you join us to be a part of that: and get signed up. You can find us by searching "CliftonStrengths" anywhere. And we want to thank you for joining us today. If you found this helpful, share it! Share it with your managers; share it with the other coaches that you work with. We'd appreciate you doing that. Thanks for listening. We'll see you back on the next one. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Mike McDonald's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Input, Ideation, Learner, Achiever and Focus.

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

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