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The Best Way to Build a Strengths Coaching Culture
Business Journal

The Best Way to Build a Strengths Coaching Culture

by Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Most companies need to remove obstacles to forming strengths communities
  • Leaders and managers should build strengths in the company's DNA
  • Companies need strengths champions and coaches to advocate for the cause

This is the fourth article in a seven-part series.

Gallup recently completed global research on companies that have implemented strengths-based management practices. We found that 90% of the groups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges:

  • 10% to 19% increase in sales
  • 14% to 29% increase in profit
  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement
  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
  • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents

Even at the low end, these are impressive gains. In working with hundreds of organizations, Gallup uncovered the characteristics common among companies that accomplished the most with their strengths interventions and coaching. These companies often work toward creating a strengths-based coaching culture using seven strategies. This article focuses on the fourth of these seven strengths strategies: strengths communities.

Build Broad Strengths Communities Within Organizations

A strengths initiative comes to life when employees go beyond discovering their individual strengths and form strengths communities in which the strengths philosophy becomes a natural and essential part of how things get done every day.

In such an environment, strengths are integral in daily operations -- acting like glue that reinforces team performance. Members of a strengths community feel comfortable with strengths and strengths language, collectively work to leverage strengths and share a sense of belonging.

All of this is grounded in the idea that the organization is strongest when it values and respects the unique potential of every employee. The goal is to make it easy for employees to use their strengths as often as possible and for great managers to coach them along the way.

Best Practices for Building Strengths Communities

Start by building awareness. Thriving internal communication about strengths is paramount to developing strengths communities. Before employees can operate and collaborate with strengths in mind, they need to understand and identify with strengths concepts. Managers and leaders should employ targeted strategies to effectively generate internal awareness of and enthusiasm about strengths.

Remove barriers. Most organizations will need to remove some obstacles to forming strengths communities. For example, the size of the community is directly proportional to the number of people who know their own strengths and can easily learn others' strengths. Sound communications strategies can help overcome this obstacle. Others may be more difficult to confront -- for example, policies and procedures that inhibit the use of strengths information in performance reviews or team formation may need rethinking.

Form a shared outlook. Strengths communities are unifying, bringing even the most disparate individuals together around a shared perspective. Leaders and managers should build strengths in the company's DNA, so employees naturally consider strengths not only during projects but also when building workplace partnerships. An overarching emphasis on strengths allows employees to form better connections -- in part because strengths are a springboard for meaningful conversations that build trust and help groups accomplish their most important goals.

To encourage a shared strengths outlook, managers should infuse strengths in everything from daily workflow to recognition and performance management. By uniting employees around strengths, managers promote deeper, more productive and more engaging relationships among workers throughout the company.

Keep strengths alive with strengths champions. With strengths champions and coaches advocating for the cause, companies can better sustain momentum around the strengths initiative and prevent the initial progress from dwindling. A company's greatest strengths champions should be its leaders; in addition, leaders and managers should strategically ask employees in other roles to advocate for the cause. These champions are responsible for fostering buy-in and excitement by injecting strengths in everyday activities and encouraging employees to use and develop their strengths.

The next article in this series will focus on strengths coaching and building a network of strengths experts and advocates.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.


Brandon Rigoni, Ph.D., is a former Associate Director for Selection and Development at Gallup.
Jim Asplund is Chief Scientist, Strengths-Based Development and Performance Impact Consulting, at Gallup. He is coauthor of Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter.

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