Achiever Strength: Get Known For Your Talent

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Achiever to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding When Achiever Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

Here are a bunch of Achiever-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Producer
  • Doer
  • Busy
  • Finisher
  • Energetic
  • Motivated
  • Completer
  • Workhorse
  • Tireless
  • Gets It Done
  • Ambitious
  • Intense
  • Driven
  • Independent
  • Pacesetter

Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Achiever Strength

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Achiever. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for the Achiever strength (talent theme):

  1. Slackers. If you lead through the Achiever strength, try to keep yourself out of environments where you perceive your colleagues to be slackers or lazy. Sometimes, this is a simple thing to spot. For example, say you’re on a team, and you have a teammate you work with very closely. You perceive him to be a low-accountability-slacker (albeit a nice guy). If this is someone you’re working with all day every day, you’ll likely be frustrated as you imagine all of the things you could get done together, if he’d just pull his weight. A sneakier version of this is when you’re at a company or in an industry that moves at a slow pace. The Achiever in you will likely feel continual angst about what you could be getting done. This consistent “if only” thinking can really drain you. Whenever possible, surround yourself with high-achieving, driven colleagues who will match your intensity and motivate you to step your game up.
  2. Meetings About Meetings. If you lead through the Achiever strength, you likely love getting the actual work done. If you find yourself caught up in circular discussions or bureaucracy, it can be soul sucking for you. If you keep getting invited to meetings because you’re involved in a lot of projects (and therefore people think you’ll want to attend to stay in the loop), practice ways of politely opting out. Of course, the culture around meetings can be vastly different from company to company. Play with different techniques until you find something that honors your team culture, and honors your work style at the same time. For example, some Achievers have successfully created the habit of “popping in” for the 10 minute segment of the 1 hour meeting so that they’re not wasting 50 minutes of their productive time. Others have become expert at declining the meeting altogether—while also contributing to the project and staying in good graces with the team.

3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Achiever Strength

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Achiever at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through the Achiever strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Small Bits. Although you have a lot of work stamina and you can crush it on long term projects, you’ll have more fun when you give yourself a way to feel the feeling of “done-done-done” throughout the day. Get in the habit of writing down your next small action that matters for a project. Break it down to the tiniest step so that you can get a little hit of Achiever-strength-dopamine when you finish it. For example, if your project is to research and recommend a new piece of software for the team, you could be looking at a 3 year implementation. If your next action is “schedule online demo” and the next action after that is “attend online demo,” you can turn the 3-year-long-slog into digestible pieces that give you a motivating jolt of accomplishment.
  2. Power Hour. Try blocking out one hour on your calendar where you plan to crank out as many tactical tasks as possible. Don’t take calls. Get rid of all interruptions. Don’t look at email or IM. Simply crank out work. If this sounds like fun, you can also try the Pomodoro Technique, where you do intense spurts of work for 15-25 min, followed by a 5 min break. My favorite is an hour long cycle of (15 min work + 5 min break)x3. That gets you one hour of amazingly productive time. If you work in a distraction-heavy environment, these short cycles can help you feel super efficient, even when it seems like the world is conspiring against your personal effectiveness.
  3. Contests. Measure yourself doing a task that you do regularly. Maybe you make outbound calls. Maybe you write social media marketing posts. Maybe you reply to a lot of emails. Track yourself doing one of these things to get a Personal Record (PR). Then, week over week, challenge yourself to beat your PR while maintaining high quality. The contest makes it fun, and since Achievers are often the last ones at the office, it’s a great way to keep yourself out of the workaholic zone.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Achiever Strength

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
  4. Dig into the Achiever strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Achiever Talent Theme Page.

 

Here's A Full Transcript Of The 13 Minute Episode

You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and I gotta tell you, it's tough to find something more energizing than using your strengths every day at work.

In this series, you're getting one strength broken down per episode, so that you can add to the insights you already have from your CliftonStrengths report, and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

Now, if you're listening as a manager, use this series for career development ideas. Get some clues about responsibilities you could give a person with each of these talent themes, so they can show up at their best at work.

If you're listening for yourself because you lead through the talent theme of Achiever, use this as a chance to build a reputation based on your strengths so that you're more likely to be given assignments that live in your zone of genius.

So today, the talent theme of the episode you've already heard, it's Achiever. You'll get three layers to think about. One is career branding. The second is red flag situations at work. And the third is application ideas.

So, let's talk career branding. Most people I meet, have a reputation for what they know at work. Imagine people know what job title you have, what skills you have, what knowledge you have, what expertise you have, what degrees you've earned. These are all the things that you've listed in your resume, your CV, your LinkedIn profile. But go to the other side, there's another part of career branding that's really important, but it's almost always overlooked. And that is how. And the how tells people what it's like to work with you, how you think, how you interact, how you make decisions, how you get things done. Imagine how great it would be if you could get known for these ways of working that already feel easy and enjoyable to you.

So here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using in your career branding effort, if you lead through Achiever.

Producer. Doer. Busy. Finisher. Energetic. Motivated. Completer. Workhorse. Tireless. Gets It Done. Ambitious. Intense. Driven. Independent. Pacesetter.

So, as you heard those, pick one or two that really stood out for you, or you think, “oh, yeah, that's totally me”, and you would love to get known for those at work. And consider how you could embed that into your LinkedIn profile or other documents like your bio.

Okay, red flag situations for Achiever. Now, these are the cultures, the interactions, the situations that could frankly feel like soul-sucking drudgery to you if you lead through Achiever. At their worst, they could make you want to quit. But at their normal, when you experience these, they're really just small frustrations that feel like everyday frustrations that can really drain you, and you don't really know what's going on. Something isn't making you excited about going to work, but you can't pinpoint it. Well, here are a couple of red flags to look for, because this could be an area of contribution to that.

Number one, slackers. If you lead through Achiever, try to keep yourself out of environments, where you perceive your colleagues to be slackers, or you perceive your teammates to be lazy, or even the industry full of people. Sometimes this is a simple thing to spot. Like for example, you're on a team. You have a teammate you work with very closely. You perceive him to be a low accountability slacker, albeit he's a nice guy. But if this is someone that you're working with all day, every day, you're likely to be frustrated because you're imagining all the things you could be getting done together, if he would just pull his weight.

Now, there's a sneakier version of this red flag and it happens when you're at a company or in an industry that just overall moves at a slow pace. The Achiever in you will potentially feel continual angst about what could be getting done if they would move faster. This consistent, if only kind of thought in your head, it can really drain you.

So whenever possible, be sure to surround yourself with high-achieving driven colleagues who will match your intensity. They'll motivate you to step your game up.

And number two, the other red flag is meetings about meetings. You know what I'm talking about? Oh, here's the meeting about that meeting about that meeting we already had. I call them deja vu meetings also. Yep, I remember this one. We've had it four times now. Well, if you lead through Achiever, you likely love getting the actual work done. And if you find yourself caught in circular discussions or bureaucracy, it could feel soul-sucking for you, because it feels like you're talking about the work but not getting to the work.

So, if you keep getting invited to meetings, because you're involved in a lot of projects, and therefore people think that you want to attend and stay in the loop, practice ways of politely opting out and try it on. Now, of course, the culture around meetings can be really different from one company to the next. Sometimes opting out is not acceptable. In other companies, people assume it's not acceptable until they start playing with it. So, play with different techniques until you find something that honors your team culture, and honors your work style at the same time.

So, for example, I've talked to Achievers who have successfully created the habit of popping in where they asked for the agenda in advance, and they find that only 10 minutes of it relates to their project. So, they pop in for that 10 minutes of the hour meeting so they're not wasting 15 minutes of productive time. And by the way, that is so much more respectful than sitting in the meeting for those 15 minutes that are irrelevant, tapping away on your phone, or your laptop looking like a disengaged meeting participant. That doesn't do anything for career brand. So, it's so much better to pop in pop out.

Another thing I've seen is just people becoming expert at declining the meetings altogether. So, they find ways to contribute to the project, stay in good graces with the team. Do all the things that need to get done. But if you find that the meetings are not relevant to you, you're just getting invited in because the person wants to make sure they've included anybody who might care. It's a pretty freeing moment when you realize, “Oh, they were just inviting me so that I didn't get offended or feel left out. But I don't really have something I need to do for this. I could get another hour of productivity back if I reclaim that space so play with that.

Now let's talk application ideas. When I offer these application ideas, I'll frame them as though you're a manager leading someone who has the Achiever talent theme, one of your team members. But of course, if you lead through this theme, think about how you could raise your hand for these kinds of projects.

First one, I call it small bits. So, imagine a person who leads through Achiever. They have a lot of work stamina. They can crush it on long term-projects and they have a lot more fun when they can feel, ‘done! done! done! done! done!’ where they can keep ticking off the things that they've completed throughout the day.

So, get them in the habit of writing down the small actions - What's the next step? What's the next action? - and being able to celebrate the next action and break it down into small bits and tiny steps. This is especially helpful if you're a leader and you see there's an Achiever on your team who's leading a very long-term project, 3-year project, 1-year project, and they feel like the milestones are so far apart and that so many things change midstream that they don't get that satisfaction, you know, that Achiever dopamine hit of finishing something. Help them break things into small steps next actions so that they can feel they've completed pieces.

Imagine, I'm just going to give an example of this. There's a project and the project is to research and recommend a new piece of software for the team. And that could be like a 3-year implementation plan. But if the next action is, schedule an online demo, and the next section after that is, attend online demo, you can turn that 3-year-long-slog into digestible pieces that give the motivational jolt of accomplishment.

So, if you're a manager, and you like to get updates on the things that have been happening on teams, and you're not micromanaging the process, but you ask people to send you status updates, you can ask them to take those small next action steps and just put them in a list and share them so that they can celebrate getting them done. And you also get your status update built in and you get a two for one.

Okay, number two idea, power hour. This is blocking out an hour on the calendar, where the person who leads through Achiever can crank out as many tactical tasks as possible. This is, no phone calls, no IMs, no interruptions, no phone around. Don't look at email, just crank out work.

Now, if that sounds like fun for this person, you could also tell them about the pomodoro technique. That's a way that you work on a timer to do some intense spurts of work. Usually, it's 15-25 minutes of work on a timer. Timer dings, you take a 5-minute break, and then you get back into it and do another timer cycle. My favorite way of doing this, it turns into a power hour because it's an hour-long cycle 15 minutes of work. 5-minute break, do that three times. It gets you an amazing hour of productivity time.

So, if you're a manager and you're spotting that an Achiever on your team has that a frustration of not being able to get anything done around here because there are so many distractions, do what you can to get that power hour really blocked off for them. I've also heard people call it tiger time. It's whatever, ‘I crank it out’ time, I call it going in my cave, go in my cave for an hour, just kind of like I'm hiding in here. No one can get to me so that I can really crank things out.

Okay, number three, contests. This is something that you could encourage someone with the Achiever talent theme to do, and it's contest with self. It's measuring themselves doing a task that they do regularly. Let's say they make outbound calls. Let's say they write social media marketing posts. Well, track doing one of those things and get a personal record. And then week over week, you could have a challenge where they're trying to beat the PR, while they're maintaining the high quality.

So, it could be a contest that you do team-wide, but this is really more like contest with self. And the idea of it is just challenge yourself because it feels so good when you lead through the Achiever talent theme to get more done than you got done last time because Achievers are such workhorses. And I love feeling productive. So, it's contest with itself - a great way to keep out of the workaholic zone also. Because if Achievers are often the last one at the office, which I hear constantly in my training sessions is what people tell me, I'm always the last one here, this is a fun way to get more efficient and productive without more hours.

So, try the PR thing. It could be as silly as personal record for how many e-mails they've cranked out while maintaining high quality. It could be how many great social media posts, how many great outbound calls, whatever those things are of course, you have to maintain the high quality. And this isn't something that as a manager, you necessarily ask them to report out to you unless they think that would be fun. It's just an idea because it gives an internal spurt of motivation.

So, there you have it. It's a quick tour for building a career around the talent theme of Achiever.

The homework if you lead through Achiever:

Take action on career branding, and challenge yourself to get one sentence in there in the about section of LinkedIn so that next time customers or vendors or teammates, look you up on LinkedIn to see who you are and what you're all about, they get to see how it is you work, not just what you've done in the past.

And then number two, think over those red flags. See if there's anything that you would need to get in front of before it brings you down.

And then number three if you lead through Achiever, volunteer your talents through those application ideas. And if you're a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of those things sound like something they'd love to have some fun with.

With that, I'm your host Lisa Cummings, from Lead Through Strengths. If you've been thinking about kicking off strengths for your culture by doing virtual training, or in-person events, head on over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training . See if our current offerings are a good fit for you.

Until next time. Thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

About Deena Silverman

Deena Silverman is the Director of Customer Experience at Lead Through Strengths, where she helps teams improve their productivity by focusing on their natural talents. Deena helps leaders pull off seamless strengths-based events that change the culture of their company. One of her greatest joys is studying human behavior and helping others achieve their goals. When she's not using her organizational strengths to create awesome events, you can find her running around with her two special boys and her unique dog, Ranger. Or she might be hunting for Gary, her repeat-escapee hamster with a top talent of persistence. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Individualization | Achiever | Learner | Input | Activator.