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I think we may have all heard the saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers or they leave leaders or leave bosses, right? And so really the single most important factor in strengthening the workplace strengthening a team is the manager.
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, and with me is my good friend and co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.
Our topic today is leading others with CliftonStrengths. Now, Susan, I know we’ve spoken many times on the show about our CliftonStrengths signature themes, and we even have two previous podcasts focused on this topic. We have episode number six, “Using the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment.” They have now changed their branding. It’s the same assessment, but now it’s called CliftonStrengths. But the title of that episode at the time was StrengthFinders assessment. And then episode number 13, which was called “StrengthsFinder.” That wasn’t one of our more creative titles.
And for our listeners, if you don’t like assessments or haven’t taken this one, the philosophy of CliftonStrengths is to understand what you do best and seek opportunities to do more of it. So you can still embrace this concept without taking the assessment. However, it provides you with the tools and a common language to help make this simpler, and it only costs $19.99 plus tax to find out.
It is such a good deal, and so worth it, I think. And doing it with your coworkers, with your friends, with your spouse, I just think it’s a good investment.
Yes, so do I. Well, despite the fact that we’ve had two previous podcasts on different focuses of StrengthsFinder, we’ve not really dug into the topic of how to be a better leader by understanding your own strengths and those of others that you lead. First, we need to understand our own strengths and how to name, claim, and aim them. So that’s taking the assessment, understanding how those strengths work in our own lives, and then aim them to be better tomorrow. But the real power of our strengths work exponentially when we understand the strengths of others around us. And that could be a spouse or a family member, someone on your team, someone who reports to you or someone who we report to. The more we can help others by putting them in a position to do what they do best, the better off all of us are. So let’s explore the topic of strengths in the context of helping us to be a better leader. And before we go even further, let’s remind our listeners of our top five strengths. So mine are Maximizer, Arranger, Positivity, Strategic, and Futuristic.
Yeah, and mine are Woo, Significance, Individualization, Positivity, and Maximizer.
So I thought we might start by sharing some examples of how we have been better leaders, better friends, better teammates, by understanding our own strengths and the strengths of those around us.
I’ll tell you, I felt after I took CliftonStrengths that it was just absolutely liberating for me, because some of the things that I thought were kind of, I don’t know, idiosyncrasies about me, it’s like, hey, wait a minute, that is who I am, and that’s a strength, and now I need to leverage it in the world of work and in the rest of my life. The first one, Woo, you know, Winning Others Over, I knew it always mattered to me to… I wanted people to like me. It just is… I don’t know, it’s just inside of me. I thought, wait a minute, this is my Woo strength. I’m going to use it. So I love to go networking. I love to meet people. I don’t have to have long term relationships. Once I’ve connected, I feel like, you know, we understand each other. And that’s… that’s… in the world of work, it’s very, I think, important that you can make those connections. So it’s really been helpful and I don’t… I’m not embarrassed about wanting people to like me anymore.
Right. Good for you. And you do a great job of that.
Aww. Well. And I got a few others here, but what about… how about you? Give me an example of how you’ve used them.
Peggy on our Purple Ink team has Ideation, and it is well known by everyone on our team if we need some ideas for anything, Peggy’s a great person to go to to get us started. But I’ve learned that Peggy could ideate all day long.
Sometimes if I’ll send out an email or a chat or a text with a question, you know, Peggy might continue to think of new ideas for the whole day, or she could probably do it for the whole week. So I’ve learned to be a better leader with Peggy and saving her some… saving both of us a little heartache, I guess, is that now I’ll say, hey, Peggy, I need some ideas for you. Can you send me your top three?
It gets me the best answers, and for her, she could sort of share them and then take it off her plate, take it out of her mind so she doesn’t feel compelled to ideate all day long.
That’s so smart. I have a very dear friend, Chris, who is high in Ideation. Might be her number one, but it’s definitely in her top five. I gotta tell you, whenever I want to think about what should we do, oh, my gosh, she can come up with amazing ideas. And it really… I must be low. I don’t know where that falls in my whole list. But I love surrounding yourself with people who have those strengths that you admire that is not you.
Another one in my top five, as I mentioned, is Significance, and that’s really that what I want to do work-wise, it has to matter to me. And I don’t… I’m not interested in doing something that I don’t think matters. And so that is very, I think, kind of liberating as well, because I will look at a lot of different opportunities and there’s things I’m like, I just can’t get any energy about this or about that. And the ones that I think I… that’s really going to make a difference or that is going to bring recognition or that’s the whatever, I attract to it. Like, I’m run to it like a magnet. So that’s good for me to know and understand. If it’s something I don’t think is something worthwhile, there’s no sense of me trying to fake it or trying to make it.
Yeah. I love that. And one of my favorite stories of how I have used my strengths as a parent – and I’ve said for years, the day I found out my kids’ strengths was the day I became a better parent. All three…. and there is no heredity, genetic connection of our strengths in our families or our parents, but when I think back about my son Kip in particular, who has Relator very high, he always wanted to have a birthday party with just a few friends and do something special. Well, I have Woo as number six, so I always insisted that all of my kids have big birthday parties and invite their whole class and half the neighborhood…
…and our cousins and anyone else we knew. But every year when his birthday would come around again, he would say “Mom, can I just invite a few friends and do something special.” So finally one year, I let him do that. He invited two friends and we went down to Holiday World and he said it was his best birthday ever. But guess what I did when we got back home from the birthday weekend? I had a surprise party…
…at our house with, like, 40 kids because I couldn’t stand it that they weren’t all invited to the big party. And now that I know he has Relator, which is someone who really wants less but deeper relationships, I just feel like I was torturing him for all those years. [Laughs]
Aww. You know what? If I’m going to be tortured, torture me by throwing parties for me.
So I don’t feel too bad for Kip. [Laughs] But yeah, that’s so cool.
Yeah. So we have invited a guest to join us today to share more on this topic. I’ve just gotten to know Raylene Rospond in the past five months or so, as the two of us are working together with Beth Rashleigh, a previous guest on the podcast. We’re working on a Power Up Your Strengths certification program. Raylene has served as an executive leader, advisor, mentor, and coach over the past 30 years, and for 20 of those, she has been working to help individuals and teams focus on the strategic application of CliftonStrengths to achieve personal, professional, and organizational goals. She is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach and holds a Quality Matters Teaching Online Certificate. Her top five strengths are Learner, Analytical, Responsibility, Achiever, and Intellection. Raylene is also a member of our Powered by Purple Ink network. Raylene, thank you so much for joining us today.
It’s my pleasure, JoDee and Susan, thanks for having me.
Raylene, it’s so nice to meet you, and we’re so glad to have you here and learn from you today. What drove you to become a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach?
That’s a really good question, Susan, because I’ve often told people that when I first was introduced to CliftonStrengths, I got my 34 strengths, and I looked at them and I thought, “Oh, this is interesting,” and then I kind of put it, you know, on my bulletin board and walked away and didn’t look at it. But over the years, as I continued to work on my own professional development as well as those of others I worked with, I really came to understand that focusing on strengths and being able to position people to do the work that they’re most engaged with is what led to the most success. And so since I have Learner as my number one strength, I really wanted to get more deeply involved with this to really be able to have a good grasp and be able to translate that to others.
How can we learn more about how to use CliftonStrengths, not just for ourselves, which I do think is… is the first step, but to really be a better manager or leader of others?
First, you have to understand yourself, because what your strengths are… are going to impact how you manage and how you lead, so I think that is obviously the critical place to start. And then being able to think about how that applies to how you lead and manage is really important. In the last few months, Gallup has come out with a new report on CliftonStrengths for Managers, and what that does is it takes your CliftonStrengths and it speaks to them specifically from a manager leader perspective. And so it talks about how this talent or thing contributes to your success, how it might get in your way of being a successful leader or manager, and how to apply them. And so I think that’s the next step once you know yours, is how does that relate to… to managing? But then the third step is understanding the strengths of those you work with, those that are on your team, those that you’re leading, so that you can position them for success and you can work across the team to see where the various strengths are and how the whole team can work together for greater successful outcomes.
Yeah, I love it. And by the way, for our listeners who are interested in that report, you don’t actually have to take the assessment again, but you can log back into your Gallup account, and I forget how much it costs, but you just pay for it – it’s, you know, maybe $30 or something like that – and request that manager’s report. It will give you… if you only have your top five, it will give you your top 10 strengths, and then speak to what Raylene just talked about, too. We can put those instructions in our show notes, too, if people are interested in that.
I think that would be really helpful. That’s great. I think trying to figure out how can we use our strengths to be better leaders and managers is so important. Raylene, can you help us figure out how we can use our CliftonStrengths to improve performance reviews?
Yeah, and you know, if you… obviously, if you’ve been through performance reviews, they can be very painful for a lot of people, and when you look at some of the data Gallup has found, you know, they say only 14% of employees agree that a performance review actually helps them perform better.
And that… I mean, that’s not what we’re after – right? – as we think about these reviews. So Gallup has about 11 steps that you can do to help improve performance reviews, but I’m going to just highlight a couple of them today here, but the… Probably one of the most important is to define success first. So this is before the performance review. As you go into a new year, it’s make sure everybody understands what success looks like so that people know what they’re striving for. I think that is critical. Have you ever been in a situation where you thought your expectations were one thing and your manager or leader thought they were another? You know, those two things aren’t going to come together unless you’re on that same page. The other thing I think is, obviously, help your… the people you work with to position, how do they use their strengths to achieve those expectations? Because I often tell a story, and JoDee’s heard this, where I was a new dean of a college and Woo was my 34.
It’s obviously not… it’s my lesser theme, right? It’s at the very bottom. And I really struggled with, how am I going to do this job without that? What I learned in thinking about it is how to use my… my strengths to get the same job done. I just do it in a different way. So helping people think about how to use their strengths to meet those… those goals. And then I think the other thing I would highlight is for a manager to really think about… if there are any performance issues before they go into review, think about if those are occurring because of a strength in disguise. And one of the perfect examples of that is if one person has an Activator as a strength and they’re given, you know, something to do, they’re gonna jump right in and they want to get it, you know… get it started, move right away, and they’re gonna jump and start it right away. But somebody with Deliberative is going to spend a lot of time thinking about, what do I do? What are the risks if I do this or do that? And so if you as a manager think, chop chop, you need to get this going, you know, and it’s a performance issue because you haven’t, well, actually, their Deliberative is leading to that as they’re thinking through and trying to avoid any problems from occurring. So going back and thinking about what those issues are and where they may be coming from could really help you position the conversation in a way to bring that strength out in a positive way.
Yeah, I love that example, Raylene. That’s really good. I also keep thinking about your… the first item you mentioned about defining success. I think of defining success a lot if I were building a business case or maybe creating a project plan and what that looks like. But I have to admit, I haven’t actually thought about that, per se, as leading someone else – right? – or helping them or us talking together about what does success look like just in their career or in their next six months at work, or, you know, in a project plan as well, too.
And I’ve asked it, like, in job interviews, right? What would the success look like at the end of six months or the end of the first year? But when… once you’re in the job, we won’t often have that conversation. And I think that’s… that’s really important, because we can also define this. So when we ask the person we’re working with how would you define success? So again, it allows us to bring the two together, if we don’t have exactly the same answers.
Right. And Raylene, why do you think managers or leaders should adopt a strengths-based approach to their leadership styles?
Well, I think we may have all heard the saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers or they leave leaders or they leave bosses, right? And so really, the single most important factor in strengthening the workplace, strengthening a team is the manager. I mean, it is that person. And we do know from Gallup research that groups that use a strengths-based approach have significantly better outcomes in a lot of areas. So sales go up, profitability can go up almost 9%. If you’re in a customer field, the customer engagement goes up. It… also very pertinent today, it decreases turnover. It increases employee engagement, and so post-COVID in our current situation – right? – recruitment and retention of employees is so important. So all of those things improve when you use a strengths-based approach. And on a day-to-day basis, it gives everybody a common language to use and I think it helps everybody appreciate the unique strengths everybody brings, you know, to an organization, to a team, and that can only improve relationships and, again, engagement, I think. So that’s why I think it’s so important that we use this day-to-day, and I’ve tried to use it in my job and working with the people that I have lead and managed as well.
What conversations can a manager have to foster teamwork in the workplace?
I think the big thing about this approach is it can’t be just, like, a one-off. You know, you can’t have a performance review and then not talk to your employee until you have the next performance review. So there are kind of five areas of conversation that can really help in doing this with a team, and the first one starts with what we already talked about in defining expectations, what success is, but also in developing relationships. So that developing conversation… relationship and expectations would be the first conversation. The second one is kind of quick check-ins. These aren’t work related conversations. It’s just, you know, if you’re getting coffee at the same time, if you’re doing a very short video call if you have remote workers, how are you doing? What’s going on? It’s, again, more relationship building, as part of that. The third and fourth one are more planned check-ins, either with individuals or with teams. So you can have check-ins to discuss priorities and progress. I think JoDee and I were on one yesterday on the project she mentioned at the beginning, as kind of where are we at? What do we need to get done? And, you know, those may be 30 to 60 minutes, again, going back to expectations, what we need to do and… and that can really create a sense of stability with your team and knowing where everybody’s at, what’s going on. Obviously, maybe every six months, if you’re working on a big project, you want a more in-depth team kind of conversation that talks about how everybody’s working together. But the last, the fifth one is really developmental coaching, kind of giving feedback in the moment to individuals. And that can be feedback, it can be advice, it can be coaching, but even more important, it can be recognition, because Gallup knows from their engagement surveys that recognition is an important part of keeping your employees engaged. You have to know how they like recognition and, you know, all those things, but getting it on a regular basis is also an important thing. So those five conversations I think are really important.
Yeah, great advice, Raylene. You know, we’re the JoyPowered® podcast, so we always like to ask a question about joy. And what do you think is one small step that a manager or leader could do to create more joy at work?
You know, I really think joy connects with feeling engaged and valued. For me, Significance is in my top 10, so for me personally, it’s not just knowing that I’m doing something well, but that it’s contributing to what we’re trying to achieve. And so I think joy comes from when you know you are contributing and you know that what you’re doing is valued and… and that you as an individual is valued. So I think if a manager can create that kind of engagement, and have their… the people they work with really feel they’re valued personally as well as professionally, then I think that results in a lot of joy in the workplace.
I love it.
I am so happy that you have Significance in your top 10, because it’s one of my top five, and I was looking at your top five and I thought, oh my gosh, we’re on different planets with Analytical, Responsibility, Achiever, Learner, Intellection… I want to be you when I grow up.
So I’m just really glad I’ve got something to connect with you on.
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things… I’ve found that the top five is a great place to start, you know, but I find that the top 10 or 12 is where I can see… so that next tier down, next five, I find a lot of things that come out every day for me in that next that next spot underneath that, and so I always encourage, once you kind of understand, you know, the top five, to really get that full report, because I do think that next tier really is impactful for people.
I think you’re right. You mentioned that Woo was your very last one – Woo is my very first one.
So yeah, we connect there on that next five.
We do. And I bet you you… you know, we had completely different… different reactions coming onto the podcast today. [Laughs]
I’m sure you were looking forward to it, and I was… I was fretting about it.
Oh, that’s funny. I was. I woke up looking forward to it. I looked at my calendar, I said, “Yes!”
Oh, that’s fun. Well, Raylene, this has been so much fun. How can our listeners find out more about our Power Up Your Strengths certification program or anything else you might think our listeners might want to know?
Go to the Powered by Purple Ink web page, and though the… a connection there under strengths to get more information about Power Up Your Strengths program. That would be the place I would recommend people to start. JoDee, you have any other places you think they should start to find more out?
They could reach out to either one of us directly with questions or even reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org.
So please do visit poweredbypurpleink.com/strengths. That will get you right there.
JoDee. It’s time for our listener question. The following question came from a listener of one of our August 2022 podcasts. We welcome questions from any of our listeners, anytime. Here’s the question. “What are some example suggestions a person could take to their boss or HR to find a way to overcome burnout while continuing to work?”
The example I want to give you that I think can really be the most helpful, but it can also be difficult to do, and that is, I think, going to your boss or HR and having a conversation to just put it out there and say, “I am burnt out,” or, “I feel like I’m starting to burn out,” and put that out on the table. I think what happens so many times is that we get burned out and then we just quit, right? Or we looking for something else and we leave, and we may not really be solving the issue. Right? It might be the task that we’re doing that burns us out. It could be the number of hours we’re working. It could be we’re not.. we’re not using our strengths when we’re doing those tasks, so we feel depleted at the end of the day as opposed to being energized. So… But we have this fear that we might go to them and they might say, “Oh, maybe you should leave.” [Laughs] I think being brave enough to have that conversation and then working on it and getting ideas from them as well. If our listener is having some of those concerns, it’s likely people around them are too.
Sure. Well, we’re reading so much right now about “quiet quitting,” about employees that have decided post the Great Resignation, maybe they’ve moved jobs, maybe they haven’t, but they’ve decided they’re going to set boundaries inside of work. They’re going to do what they need to do to get by, but they’re not going to be burning the midnight oil. And I know that the fear management has is “Oh my gosh, if they’re quietly quitting, am I going to have any superstars? How am I going to get all this work done, I’ve been relying on people for to burn themselves out if they needed to?” I think there’s just, in today’s world, a real consciousness about there’s more to life than work. And if you don’t create an environment where people feel really comfortable and confident talking to you about, “I’m starting to stress here, I’m starting to have burnout,” you might have people quietly quitting on you. And we used to say, you know, they retired in place. They’re still collecting a paycheck, but they’re not knocking themselves out. So I love your advice about if you’re feeling this yourself, you’re feeling burnout, come and sit down with your management, talk about it and talk about… what adjustments could I make here? And in today’s world, they might very much want to help you make those adjustments rather than risk losing you.
Exactly. In our in the news section today, the way we interact and form relationships with the people we work with has changed dramatically with the shift towards full-time remote work. And JobSage – S-A-G-E – did a survey in July 2022 to learn more about the state of workplace friendships and relationships today. Some of the key takeaways from that that I found really interesting… Number one, 95% of the surveyed respondents say having a friend at work makes them happier.
92% say friendships at work impact their willingness to stay at a company.
And despite the positive impact of workplace friendships, one in five Americans have no friends at work and remote workers report having 33% fewer workplace friends.
I know I should be surprised by that, but I do know that the… there’s a real issue in the world of work today about loneliness, people not feeling connected, and certainly with remote work, it doesn’t surprise me that people working alone feel lonelier.
Another stat, millennials – 39% – and Gen Z – 21% – are the generations most likely to have no friends at work.
That makes me so sad for them.
And despite the challenges of remote work friendships, one in four have made a work friend that they’ve never met in person.
I’ll tell you when I worked with a large global organization, I had dear, dear friends to this day I’ve never met but I stay in touch with. It’s so true.
[Laughs] I love it. And that… you weren’t even working remotely back then, right?
You were just at a different location.
Exactly. Exactly. Well, JoDee, I think we need to do a future episode on how do you make friends at work, don’t you?
Ooh, let’s do it.
Yeah, I don’t like the idea of people feeling alone and not having friends. Just don’t like it at all.
Yes. And I’m curious for our listeners to think about how you might answer some of these questions. Have you made more or less friends, or have less friends but deeper relationships? Do your friendships impact your willingness to stay or leave your company? Let us know your thoughts by emailing us at email@example.com. Thanks for listening to us today, and make it a JoyPowered® day.
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