Things for teams to try: Improving Strengths

Using our Strengths helps make things feel easier, more enjoyable and more effortless. So it’s a great idea to increase the amount everyone in the team feels they get to use their strengths on a day to day basis. Here are some tips for your team…

7 Strengths - team

1. Organise team tasks by strengths

Next time you are reviewing workflows and priorities, consider using a little positive psychology to organize who does what.

  1. First individually consider what you feel your strengths are, which you get to use, and which you’d like to use more of. What kinds of tasks or ways of doing things feel engaging, energizing and satisfying?
  2. Then consider the strengths you see in each of your teammates – what are they good at, seem to get absorbed in, get satisfaction and a buzz from doing?
  3. Collate the strengths you see in each other so that everyone has a list of strengths they or others see in them.
  4. Discuss which strengths you’d each like to use more of at work and consider ways you could do this.
  5. Use this discussion to guide decisions about sharing work and responsibilities. Have your insights led you to re-organize work differently? In what ways?

Use your results and weekly team happiness discussions Friday see if your strengths-based approach to decision-making positively affects individual wellbeing and overall team performance.

2. Identify your strengths before your next 1:1

In the maelstrom of daily life, we can easily lose sight of ourselves. Sometimes we have to do a little work to reconnect with what lights a fire in our bellies. Luckily there is some good guidance out there. For example, Alex Linley has created a 10 point checklist you can work through to identify your strengths. Take 30 minutes to answer these 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 earlier lives.
  2. Energy: What activities give you and energetic buzz when you are doing them? These activities 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 and underlying strength.
  7. Motivation:Whatmotivatesyou?Whenyoufindactivitiesthatyoudo 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 never make it on to your “to do” list. These things that always seem to get done often reveal an underlying strength that means we never need to be asked twice. (Adapted from Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others, by Alex Linley, published by CAPP Press, 2008)

Note down the activities - at home and at work - that bring you energy. Use this list when discussing your current role and future intentions with your line manager - for example, in your next 1:1. If you don't have some time set aside to talk about your strengths with a manager at work, then request one. Explain that you have carried out a review of your strengths, and you'd like to explore how they relate to your current role and your future intentions.

3. Identify the character strengths you value

If you prefer a survey to a checklist the Values In Action Inventory of Strengths assessment is available for free. It measures the character strengths that you believe are valuable, even if you do not feel you currently use them. Take the VIA survey here

4. Recruit for strengths

When you’re recruiting for new members of the team think about the relational, cognitive, executional and emotional strengths it would be useful to have more of in your team. What strengths are important for the particular role your trying to fill? At the recruitment stage, get a sense of your candidate's signature strengths. Are they able to differentiate between things they've worked to get good at and those things they feel more natural at? How will their energy and capacities complement the strengths you already have in the team?