Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday?
The movie “Office Space” is a fantastic example of someone who does NOT get to do what they are best at. EVER. Peter Gibbons is a self-described slacker with zero motivation at his current job. For example, during an interview with the “Bob’s” (external consultants brought in to help Initech, a fledging company) he reveals his typical day, which involves coming in late, staring off into space and finally doing about fifteen minutes of real, actual work. Although this is a fictional portrayal, unfortunately it is not far from the factual state of employee engagement in today’s workforce. In fact, only one in four people strongly agree they have the opportunity to do what they are best at every day. This low level of employee engagement and enjoyment should raise red flags for all of us!
The good news is that there is a practical tool that boosts levels of employee engagement and overall happiness- Gallup’s StrengthsFinder Assessment. StrengthsFinder is an online assessment that is rooted in positive psychology and helps individuals identify their areas of natural talent. Through additional personal/professional development, individuals and organizations learn how to turn these natural talents into usable strengths. Operating in areas of strength, instead of weakness, is the key to boosting employee engagement. In other words, in order to have the opportunity to do what you do best every day, you first need to have a clear understanding of what it is that you do best. The importance of operating in areas of strength reaches far beyond feelings and has real impacts on organizations’ bottom lines. In fact, researchers have found that people who focus on their Strengths are three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. Also, people who use their strengths everyday have 7.8% greater productivity and 8.9% greater profitability.
In order to see the positive effects mentioned above, we must first gain clarity on how to properly utilize the assessment. By getting curious about our inner selves and strengths, we can curate confidence, creativity and clarity! It may seem obvious, but often times we are too busy to slow down to nurture the relationship with our inner selves. We all have areas of natural talent (things that we feel drawn to, pick up quickly, could do for areas, are excellent at, and enjoy doing) and if we invest time and resources into developing this talent, we have the ability to turn it into a strength. A strength is defined as the ability to have near perfect performance on a consistent basis. Once Tiger Woods realized that he had a natural talent for golf, he didn’t sit back and hope for the best. He invested time and resources into developing this skill into a usable strength, and ultimately, a very lucrative career. We may never have the level of skill of Tiger Woods, but there are definitely activities that we are naturally drawn to and can incorporate in daily life.
We at Legacy Magazine challenge you over the next week to take note of the times that you feel excitement or become so engrossed in an activity/project that you lose all track of time. These instances will point you to the activities that you should be spending the majority of your time on. If you aren’t finding that you are energized about anything after a week, it is time to begin brainstorming how you can modify your daily routine, job description, or even career field to be more congruent with your strengths. Once you gain clarity on how you work best, you can truly function at full capacity.
Once you gain a certain level of clarity on your strengths, it is then time to begin understanding how your co-workers, or teammates, operate. Often times, we assume that because we operate best with a to-do list and deadlines that everyone operates best with a to-do list and deadlines. But this assumption simply isn’t true and leads to levels of confusion and chaos! Everyone has unique strengths that enable them to get the job done in a multitude of different ways. Once organizations are aware of how their employees work best, they can (and should) rearrange job taskings and institute new procedures that align strengths and responsibilities. For example, during a group strengths discovery session it became apparent that one young lady was exceptionally talented in forecasting and strategizing. The CEO took note of this and placed her on the Executive Steering Committee. As a result, the rest of the organization benefited from her skill and she was more engaged…a win/win!
Focusing on cultivating strengths is a proven way to increase both employee engagement and organizational profitability. Perhaps if Initech would have focused more on strengths instead of TPS reports, Peter Gibbons would have reported to the Bob’s that he had completed at least 8 hours of real, actual work- not 15 minutes- in a day!
For more information on identifying and developing your natural strengths, connect with our Director of Development, Katie Christy.
Katie’s passion for helping people understand their natural talents and how to leverage that knowledge to be more effective in both their personal and professional lives is evidenced in her certification as a Gallup Strengths Coach. It is Katie's desire to help individuals and organizations cultivate and leverage their unique Strengths by sharing her knowledge and experience in a highly interactive, discussion-based format. She seeks to provide others with a common language to discuss and appreciate each person’s unique contribution.