StrengthsFinder: How to Engage Your Team Based on Their Strengths
Last updated on October 4th, 2021
When someone does something correctly, it is seldom that anyone would take special notice and appreciate the effort. Many tasks are expected of people on a daily basis, resulting in criticism only when something goes wrong. When it comes to team engagement or employee engagement, focusing on their strengths can make a huge difference. This is where the concept of StrengthsFinder originates from.
What is StregthsFinder
American psychologist and author, Donald O. Clifton developed CliftonStrengths, which is the basis for the concept of StrengthsFinder. It is Gallup’s psychological assessment available online. The test is based on positive psychology that presents 177 items, with a pair representing potential self-descriptors. The user is given 20 seconds to complete a pair before the screen automatically moves on to the next pair.
The core idea behind StrengthsFinder is to find the strengths of people instead of looking at what might be wrong with them. Unlike the conventional approach of psychologists in Clifton’s time, StrengthsFinder or CliftonStrengths focuses on not fixing what might be wrong with people but rather improving an individual and team’s performance with a focus on strengths.
Using StrengthsFinder for Enhancing Team Performance
To better understand the concept of StrengthsFinder for team or employee engagement, let’s take a look at a few basic concepts and how focusing on them can be beneficial for managers and teams.
Difference Between Talent and Strength
While talent is a natural ability to make use of patterns of thought, behavior, or feelings to use or be used productively, a strength, according to CliftonStrengths, is the ability to provide near-perfect performance on a consistent basis. By identifying dominant talents and making them a strength, an individual’s performance can be enhanced. Furthermore, a team that focuses on such an approach can enable each member to make the most out of their talents. Making use of your talents can help you turn them into strengths and use them for excelling at the workplace and even in personal life.
You might be great at public speaking, however, unless you are putting the talent to good use, as you let your subordinates deliver dull PowerPoint presentations, you are letting your talents go to waste.
Gallup’s Position on Strengths and Weaknesses
According to Gallup, people should make use of their talents to focus on their strengths. Managing weaknesses, while building their strengths. This can help individuals and teams to drive performance, improve underperforming areas. Gallup does not suggest ignoring weaknesses but to rather have a strengths-based approach.
Do Talents Change?
Since they occur naturally, it’s quite unlikely that an individual’s talents can significantly change over a period of time. However, by acquiring new skills to capitalize on your talents, you can significantly improve performance. For example, a graphic designer who is good at designing visually pleasing graphics can learn new software and start designing application UIs to expand his/her skillset and job prospects. To better understand this concept, each individual can focus on their talent which can be loosely placed according to 34 themes identified by Gallup.
34 Themes of Talent by CliftonStrengths
The themes of CliftonStrengths are based on four decades of research. These are the 34 most common talents identified by Gallup to help individuals find their true talents and to make the most out of them.
An achiever is someone who has a constant need to ensure that he/she can achieve something tangible. Such individuals have a drive for achievement, putting in long working hours to reach desired goals.
The activator is an influencing category. Activators are confident towards taking the first step, be it a large or small opportunity. An activator can get things going and move a group in the right direction.
As the name suggests, individuals with this talent can adapt to changing conditions. People good at adapting are flexible and can remain productive despite competing demands of work occurring simultaneously.
People who are analytical like to rely on facts and critically examine information to be certain about its validity. An analytical person can help unearth the root cause by peeling off all the layers until the required information is found.
A great talent that some people have is the ability to arrange things in a manner that is most productive. By looking at the variables and realigning things for the best possible outcome to be achieved.
People with strong beliefs have enduring values that they strictly adhere to. Such individuals lean heavily on their values and do not merely remain content with prestige and money. They need an environment where they can hold true to their values and thrive with them.
Some people have a natural ability to command. People feel drawn towards them and follow their lead. The ability to effectively command others means that such individuals do not fear taking charge and instructing others. Due to their ability to command, people are often willing to hand you charge, even though some of them might feel intimidated by you.
Some people are really good at communicating information. You might have come across presenters whose PowerPoint presentations are never dull or who are very good at communicating a message in a manner that is easy to grasp. People with this talent theme can liven up the dullest topics.
Some people love to compete. They have a constant need to stay ahead of the competition and find ways to improve. For such people, performance is the ultimate measure of success.
Some people feel connected to others and are able to bring a sense of calm. This is a relationship-building team that can create a sense of unity in teams.
With a focus on balance, some people prefer a consistent environment where the scales are evenly tipped for everyone. This is an environment that is predictable and balanced. Such people are aware of how others are treated and wish to have an environment that is consistent.
Context describes people who have a strategic thinking to have a good understanding of the past to identify where they stand. Such people have a strong relationship with timelines and can be good at identifying solutions based on historical context.
Deliberative people tend to take great care in their choices. This is an executing theme. People with high deliberative like to take that first step in a secure and stable manner. Such individuals can work well with good thought partners to help identify pitfalls before moving forward.
The developer is the person who has the ability to see and nurture the potential in others. Such people are natural mentors and feel great while pushing people in the right direction. Such people love to make other’s see their potential and develop their capabilities.
This is a natural talent to create order and structure. Such people like rules, an order, with an environment with certain routines and rules to have a sense of everything being good. People who are disciplined can help organize everything amidst chaos and create an enabling environment for others to thrive.
People with high empathy can feel other people’s feelings. The ability to empathize helps people to help others explain how they are feeling and strengthen the bond between them and other individuals.
Focus is the ability to stay on point by gaining energy by focusing on a task. Such people can get things done using their beneficial tunnel vision. Such individuals can focus well on one task at a time for maximum productivity.
Futuristic describes people who strategically think to forecast and identify things over the horizon. They have a good sense of imagination, linking the present with the potential future.
Harmony is a relationship-building theme. Harmony can greatly help a team agree and have a strong bond. This is where people with high harmony can help drive a team towards shared goals and shared success.
Some people are full of ideas and are great at channeling them. People with the ability to generate ideas effortlessly and are genuinely creative. They can see connections and similarities where others might not be able to see them.
Includers like to accept others and quickly make the circle wider. They are good at reaching out to people and making sure that people aren’t left out. Such people can help others appear more prominent by making their opinions heard and making marginalized individuals be seen and heard.
This is the talent to notice and appreciate a unique difference. Such people can identify small details, making it possible to make one person stand out from the other based on small things. Such a person on the team can help identify the uniqueness of individuals for making a team that can enable each member to complement the team.
This describes people who are good at absorbing information. They can think strategically and thrive when doing research, talking to others, and remaining open to new information to consider and use.
Such people thrive in the process of thinking. People with dominant intellection are their own best friend, as their thoughts are endlessly exciting, and they can constantly present information that is effective and can help make good decisions.
A learner falls in the strategic thinking category. They are open-minded people who like to discover new things. Learners can help amplify teams and give them focus and direction in the moment.
Some people can find the maximum output by making something even better. Maximizers can focus on strengths to sort out which areas to work hard enough to find the maximum output for their efforts.
Some people have a great, positive vibe and can lift the team’s spirit with their positive attitude. They have contagious energy to reach other people to elevate them. People with this talent can help teams reach out to them for that improvement in motivation to feed on their energy when things are difficult.
It’s a relationship-building theme. Such people like to work hard with trustworthy people. It’s about building deep bonds and having a good relationship. Relators can be the glue in the team that can help bring them together and enable them to improve performance.
Some people are naturally good at taking responsibility and managing things perfectly. While others might struggle with responsibilities. People who have a natural need to be responsible make progress base on their commitments and desire to not let other people down. On a team, such an individual can be a great accountability partner to keep the team on track to reach the goals they have committed to.
You might have come across individuals who have a natural talent to revive and rekindle vitality in others. People who are restorative tend to be patient at fixing things and getting them back to where they were supposed to be.
Self-assurance is a trait that brings stability, resilience, and certainty. People who have self-assurance have a clear understanding of their own and the ability of others. Such an individual on a team can help sharpen their understanding of their own abilities and help make better decisions.
People who fall under this influencing theme are driven towards making an impact. They can be comfortable in the spotlight and are drawn towards things that can outlast them. Such people like to move beyond mediocre things and can get fueled by feedback to help make a wider impact.
Strategic people are always looking for options. They are always engaged in considerations for a path forward including alternative routes. Such people avoid confusing paths and look for potential obstacles on each path before making a decision.
This influencing theme defines people who can break the ice and enjoy the challenge of making friends out of strangers. They bring energy where people are drawn to them, and they are drawn to others. Such individuals are charismatic, with the ability to make deep relationships with others.
CliftonStrengths is widely used by students and educators. It is currently being used in higher education across the globe to help students focus on a strengths-based approach. The idea is to use actionable touchpoints to develop students with the help of CliftonStrengths. The concept of such an approach can be used at the workplace and even in one’s own life to help understand and use talents as strengths, while better managing weaknesses for optimum performance.