My husband and I were at a chili cook-off this past weekend, as part of our community’s Frostbite Olympics celebration. While making the rounds tasting spicy-hot concoctions and visiting with friends and acquaintances I don’t see nearly enough, I received what I consider a wonderful compliment. A friend who had recently seen me present a “toxic employee” training at her workplace said, “Every time I see you present, I feel like you are doing exactly what you should be doing for career.”
In the last ten years, much has been written in management and human resources literature about the concept of strengths utilization, i.e., placing employees in positions that are excellent fits for their natural talents and interests. Marcus Buckingham, one of the leaders of the strengths movement, cites Gallup workplace research that tells us that only one in five of us say we have an opportunity to do what we do best every day. When asked what portion of a typical workday we spend playing to our strengths, only 17% of us answer “most of the time” (Buckingham, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, New York: Free Press, 2007).
What does this lack of alignment between work tasks and natural strengths mean for individuals and organizations? Probably most obvious is the fact that employees perform at their best when they are enthused about their work and have a natural propensity to do that work well. Less obvious may be the clear correlation noted by Gallup research between employees who play to their strengths and work teams that are more productive, have less turnover, and have higher customer satisfaction ratings (Buckingham, 2007).
Brenda Clark Hamilton is a dynamic keynote speaker and workplace trainer who offers fresh perspectives in leadership, communication skills, team-building, and offering one’s best self to life, relationships, and career. Please visit www.BrendaClarkHamilton.com to learn more.