Has anyone used this within a team at work...and what have you found? Has anyone used the Strengthsfinder assessment to look at a team of people at work? I have a client who had her team of 20 (managers and director level folks) take the assessment and then they went through some exercises as a group to get a better understanding of one another. One of the findings was that someone on her team that she's had some issues with in terms of work style isn't particularly suited to her role and the way the organization works. The employee's response was, "our strengths are so different, isn't that great, we compliment each other". In fact, her boss, the head of HR was thinking, gee, I kind of understand why I've been so frustrated with this person. Her strengths just really don't play to this role. The result was a discussion about here's the one thing I need you to work on in order to be succesful in your role....
In any event I'm looking to use this tool in some of the work I do with employee performance effectiveness. Clearly there are people in roles that are not a match for their strengths and where it will be nearly impossible to make improvements or sustain those improvements. Has anyone had experience faciliating strengths coaching within a corporate type setting...I'm interested in how you've handled finding people who are struggling in terms of meeting the expectations of their role and then through Strengthfinder it becomes apparent that they aren't suited for the role based on the assessment findings.
I actually used the Strength Themes to assess the successor partners in our firm. We are in an ownership transition that we have planned for over the past 20 years. Three of us (with more than 100 years experience, altogether) are retiring within 6 months. There are three successor partners (with about 45 years in experience) continuing). As President, and the founder, I wanted to use it as a tool to stimulate discussion on how they might divide up their partner responsibilities best. We did the testing and compiled them for a little workshop. There were clear indications of who should hire and mentor staff, who should lead the productivity effort, who should be the 'keeper of knowledge'; and so on. Fortunately, it showed that they had generally self-elected to assign those responsibilities to partners who's strengths would facilitate success. For those that had not been formally sought or assigned, it provided a great (and remarkably intuitive) basis for "who should take that one". Interestingly, it also pointed out some gaps to be filled. These guys are all engineers, and not particularly long on people skills. They are considering some assitance in a Business Development department, for example. So, altogether, it provided an excellent, non-confrontational framework for comparing skill sets needed with strengths available and both affirmed their choices; and suggested other choices. In another instance, we (the managing partners) used the 5 top themes to recognize why we had picked the absolute wrong mentor for a struggling employee; and, crisply picked the right mentor who's strengths complimented (rather than exacerbated) the underproducing employees needs. Little successes like that help cement the value to our rather skeptical managers. The employees just love being able to discuss their strengths in performance reviews. Mike
Having worked in and with a broad range of organizations, I would venture the pretty strong statement that by the time the team perceives a "need" for something like StrengthsFinder, there is already a problem with many people being in the wrong roles. To my observation, as often as it is the case that individuals have chosen their careers or roles poorly or for the wrong reasons, it is more often the case that an organization hires or assigns roles based on status, idiosyncratic definitions of values, or other irrelevant selectors. That's a culture problem. Sometimes people need to be moved to other roles. Sometimes the roles themselves are not constructed in a sound way. Sometimes the hiring criteria need to change.
A strange but perfect example: I myself ended up in the position of rewriting job and hiring profiles a job because I was totally frustrated in a role that did not use my strengths! (Ideation is probably number one, and was a bad fit for a role that demand strict concentration for quality control.) Fortunately, I was at a start-up with a flexible manager who was set on results rather than procedure, so when I offered my creative strengths, he jumped at the opportunity to use them. I helped redefine the hiring criteria, the job profiles, the team structure, the hiring process, and the wording on the recruitment ads.
I have always found that people pull better than they push. To introduce the Strengths Based Management concepts, I lead the way. First, I ordered the book; read it; took the test; and, really looked over the results. Then, explored their validity. When she read the detailed descriptions, my wife said: "It's like these people lived with you for a year!" I chuckled, but noted that her intuition affirmed how spot-on these results were. So, back to the question. Once I shared the results with the partners, they, too, were astonished at their accuracy and insight. I then handed them each a book and asked them to do the exercise and share the results with their spouses and friends. Similar results. We then visited the topic in one of my twice-a-month Successor Partner Workshops (a brown bagger) where we explore each of the 8 partner responsibilities. I did a PowerPoint presentation showing them an example of how to structure a project design team from the available talent pool. I categorized the 'talents' within the Four Strength Domains (Relating Themes: Working with people; Thinking Themes: Working smarter; Striving Themes: Working harder; and, Impacting Themes: Influencing people) and it fell together very nicely. The Thinking Smarter set took the creative roles; the Working Harder set took the production roles; and, the Working with people set managed the team and client. It was clearly an approach that ignored titles and focused on skill sets. (Egoectomies and important, here.) Essentially, by carefully constructing meaningful examples, I got the leadership to embrace the concept. The younger generations were already predisposed to being managed around strengths, so when we handed them a book and said "have some fun and take the test, we'll use it in your upcoming annual review", they were all over it. Converted annual reviews from an ordeal to a high-energy, fruitful discussion. We use it for management of current teaming, performance and results; and, for mapping out their career path opportunities.
Thanks for sharing your experience with how you used the tool- your examples are so clear and specific which was just the type of info I was hoping for. It's all about getting the right people into the right seats to begin with instead of fighting the battles that go along with the wrong people sitting in the wrong seats. It is the right decision to remove someone from a role they just won't be succesful in- highlighted by your example of replacing the wrong mentor with the right mentor. Unfortunately this doesn't happen often and the A and B players, managers, clients and other stakeholders end up on the receiving end. Also liked that the framework sets up a non confrontational exchange to discuss roles and responsibilities. A questions for you: it sounds like you were able to run these discussions with just the help of the book (Strengthfinders 2.0). It sounds like this might have been used with your general employee population (with the performance review or outside of it). If you have the time could you comment on how you positioned this with employees and managed these discussions? Congratulations on using the tool to set the right direction within your organization. Thanks again for your response. -Jamie
I have just found this thread, and am excited to read about all of your experiences! I am the author of a book titled Play to Your Strengths, published in December of 2007 by Career Press. My co-author and I wrote this book because we found that once leaders and employees discovered their strengths, they didn't know what to do next! We've been using the StrengthsFinder in our coaching and consulting practices for many years, and felt that his was a need to be addressed. We suggest three simple actions on our book: 1) apply the strengths to your current role. Study your current responsibilities and accountabilities through the lens of your unique strengths and assess how can utilize your strengths better in each major responsibility. 2) Adapt your role -- that is, add responsibilities that make excellent use of your strengths. 3) Build your strengths. For most people, our strengths come so naturally to us, that we don't understand them very well. To learn more about our strengths helps us to utilize them better, as well as to help others learn how to assist us in using them.
I also facilitate a one-day workshop with teams to help them make great use of their strengths, after they have completed the StrengthsFinder. They explore their individual strengths, discuss with team members how to make great use of their individual strengths, and work as a team to identify what synergies are created when they combine their strengths (we use appreciative inquiry to do this.) -- Andrea www.sagecoach.com
Hi Barbara, Thanks for your response and for highlighting an example of role and strengths. It seems most organizations have people in roles who are not a match because the role doesn't play to their natural talents and interests which usually results in behavioral type issues that other employees, the manager and ultimately the organization pay a price for. Traditionally these situations have been dealt with through performance issues (usually not a good vehicle for changing the person's role or overall performance if they are simply a mismatch for the role to begin with), performance discussions, warnings, performance improvement plans, etc. Usually the person stays in the mismatched job- most people who are in the wrong roles are unhappy too. See the post from P. Taylor for a clear example of where they moved someone out of a role once they found out the person would not be succesful. Such a decision is not only in service of the organization but for the employee as well. Thanks for sharing your own experience and for taking the time to reply to the post. -Jamie
Barbara It may be the case that a team is already in trouble when they use this book, but we had a different experience. I had a real estate development and sales team. We used the book and it confirmed everyone's position. That may seem like it was of little value, but it was a confidence builder plus it brought out other details of how we were created that enhanced the team experience. An example was my being and ideation person like you. When a staff had a creative need for ideas, they would come to me and we would have some fun brainstorming to effectively solve their issue.