Things for organizations to try: Improving Strengths

When workplaces take a strengths-based approach to supporting people, it leads to people feeling six times more engaged and 38% more productive. Those numbers are hard to ignore!

7 Strengths - org

1. Provide leadership training to everyone

Today, leadership is less about job titles and individual performance, and more about how we behave together. It begins with trust - in oneself, in others, and in a process that allows colleagues to keep learning and co-evolving. That’s why we all need it!

How to do it:

  • Open up leadership training to colleagues all over the organization; not only those with a high enough pay grade.
  • Consider different leadership styles and what might be right for your organization or employees, e.g. how to lead:
  • with courage
  • more inclusively
  • in complex systems
  • collectively
  • Encourage colleagues to self-reflect during training and learn something new about themselves and their interactions in the workplace.
  • Make sure you provide support to colleagues post training by scheduling follow up meetings one, three and six months later. Use this to explore what's working and refine their practice.

2. Free time for personal projects

Giving employees time to work on projects of their own choosing often results in high quality creative work. It also encourages motivation and happiness, not to mention potentially being very useful for the organization. What’s not to love?

How to do it:

  • Set aside time for colleagues to work on whatever they like: it could be something that bothers them at work, something they believe can be done better, or something they think would be nice to have.
  • Allowing people to present the fruits of their labours makes them accountable and gives a platform for celebrating great ideas.
  • Be mindful that some colleagues can find it difficult to take advantage of this policy and may need extra encouragement.

Case studies

Google’s 20% time has resulted in products like Gmail, Adsense and Google Earth. Other companies like MyPlanet run 5% time policies, giving more time to teams that present promising ideas. MyPlanet also asks colleagues to track time spent in “Awesome Time” alongside paid leave. The initiative has even been applied in the classroom to help students find out what drives them.

3. Train in strengths-based feedback

Creating a high-performance workplace is about aligning what people have energy for, what they have skills and competencies in, and what the organization's needs are. Use feedback to reconnect people to their inner passions, skills and values.

How to do it:

  • Give training on strengths-based feedback. We like the SALT model to guide our interactions: S - Simulate, A - Appreciate, L - Listen, learn and Link, T - Transfer, Trust, Transform.
  • If you are in HR or a leadership position, make it your mission to shift this dynamic so that feedback can follow a process such as:
  • Invite people to complete a Strengths Profile so everyone gets the opportunity to learn what their strengths are and how to put them to use.
  • Begin with what's going right, celebrate and recognize successes, and seek further opportunities for colleagues to shine.
  • Attune to the potential that exists within people, then unlock and unleash it.
  • Keep feedback regular; people need to check-in with what they have energy for, how their skills are developing and what the organization needs from them.