Sunday, February 8, 2015

Maximizing Your Strengths Beyond the Interview.

A hot topic for most major employers right now is engagement. Savvy organizations know that high levels of employee engagement are crucial to maintain a competitive edge. Have you ever considered the power you, as an employee, have to increase your own level of engagement? What if I said that you have the power to make your time at work more fun? More fulfilling? More meaningful, so that at the end of the day you feel like you made a difference. Isn't that the feeling we all want at the end of a day? This is how we can feel when we focus on our strengths.

During the interviewing process most people know they should be able to speak to their strengths. But if you've been in your current position for some time, you might not even remember the strengths you mentioned in the interview. The truth is, you and your manager have probably been focusing on your weaknesses. Most managers are well intended and they too want to feel like they make a difference, yet far too often they focus on fixing and improving an employee’s weaknesses instead of trying to maximize an employee’s strengths.

Imagine what your job would be like if you were able to capitalize on your strengths. If you are someone who has an amazing ability to see trends in data and spreadsheets, imagine being able to focus on that much of the day. Or maybe you are someone who has a unique ability to inspire and lead those around you. What would life be like if you could live in those strengths instead of trying to “improve” a weakness? If I am someone who loves to inspire people around me to be their best, but my well intentioned manager wants me to focus on improving my ability to write proposals, something I really struggle with but it’s part of my job., how happy and engaged would you imagine me to be? I would probably be pretty unhappy with low engagement.  I might be tempted to complain to coworkers about how frustrating work is. I might think my manager just doesn't “get me” because he/she wants me to “focus” on my weakness, not just “manage” it.

If you find yourself experiencing similar feelings you should ask yourself a few questions:
·        Am I clear about what I LOVE to do at work?
·        What are the tasks I do that seem to make time fly?
·        When I feel like I made a difference at the end of the day, what was I doing?
·        And then, once you are clear about what your strengths are, what things increase your energy, ask yourself the most important question. “Have I communicated my strengths to my manager?”

Your work environment and your level of engagement can improve in an instant when you create opportunities to work within your strengths. But, if you never share those strengths with the people around you, how can they possibly help you capitalize on them?

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath is a great book to help gain a deeper understanding of your strengths. Embrace your strengths! Don’t sit around waiting for your employer to find ways of increasing your engagement. You have all the power to do that for yourself. Seek out ways to improve your strengths and find new ways at work to exercise those strengths. You will love the way it feels. Not only will you see a change in yourself, but you will see a change in how others respond to you.  Ultimately, you will see a change in your performance, your happiness and the results you create.