Things for teams to try: Improving Strengths

Using our strengths makes everything feel easier, more enjoyable and more effortless. Why wouldn’t we increase them?

7 Strengths - team

1. Identify your strengths

Alex Linley, a leading expert in the field of Positive Psychology, has created a 10-point checklist to identify strengths. Use it to highlight yours and think about any future intentions you might have.

How to do it:

  • Take 30 mins to think about and answer the below questions:
  1. Childhood memories: What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now – but most likely much better? Strengths often have deep roots from our early lives.
  2. Energy: What activities give you an energetic buzz when you are doing them? These are very likely calling on your strengths.
  3. Authenticity: When do you feel most like the “real you”? The chances are that you will be using your strengths in some way.
  4. Ease: See what activities come naturally to you, and at which you excel – sometimes, it seems, without even trying. These will likely be your strengths.
  5. Attention: See where you naturally pay attention. You’re more likely to focus on things that are playing to your strengths.
  6. Rapid Learning: What are the things that you have picked up quickly, learning them almost effortlessly? Rapid learning often indicates an underlying strength.
  7. Motivation: What motivates you? When you find activities that you do simply for the love of doing them, they are likely to be working from your strengths.
  8. Voice: Monitor your tone of voice. When you notice a shift in passion, energy, and engagement, you’re probably talking about a strength.
  9. Words and phrases: Listen to the words you use. When you’re saying “I love to...” or “It’s just great when...”, the chances are that it’s a strength to which you are referring.
  10. “To do” lists: Notice the things that get done but are never on your to-do list. These things often reveal an underlying strength that means we never need to be asked twice.

The above are adapted from Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others, by Alex Linley, published by CAPP Press, 2008

2. Identify the character strengths you value

You can identify the character strengths you believe are valuable, even if you feel you don’t currently use them. When we know what strengths are important to us, we can start to find ways to build them.

How to do it:

3. Organize team tasks by strengths

Next time you review workflows and priorities, try a little positive psychology to organize who does what.

How to do it:

  • First, as individuals, consider what you feel your strengths are, which you get to use, and which you’d like to use more. Think about things that feel engaging, energizing and satisfying.
  • Then, think about and share the strengths you see in each of your teammates. What are they good at, do they get absorbed in, get satisfaction and a buzz from doing?
  • Collate the strengths you see in each other and yourselves for each individual.
  • Together take turns to share which strengths you’d like to use more at work and think about ways you could do this.
  • Use this discussion to guide decisions about sharing work and responsibilities. Can your insights lead you to re-organize work differently?
  • Use your Friday Pulse results and weekly team happiness discussions to see if your strengths-based approach to decision making has positive effects on wellbeing and team performance.

4. Recruit for strengths

When recruiting for new members of the team, think specifically about the relational, cognitive, executional and emotional strengths you would like more of.

How to do it:

  • Take time to outline specific strengths important for the particular role you're trying to fill.
  • At the recruitment stage, get a sense of your candidate's signature strengths. For instance, are they able to differentiate between things they've worked to get good at and those things they feel more natural at?
  • Also consider how the potential employee’s energy and capacities can complement the strengths you already have in the team.