Core Concepts for Stronger Teams

In this series, you’ll explore 9 core concepts that will help you implement strengths with your team at work. The concepts we chose for you came straight from you – both from listeners of this show and from participants in our training classes.

These are the concepts that pop out as most important or elusive. If you know the overlooked or unconsidered angles that can help you make the most of strengths on your team, you’ll make big leaps. Keep reading to see the full list. There will be one dedicated podcast episode and blog post for each of the concepts.

Stronger Teams

This series of nine topics is inspired by Stronger Teams. Stronger Teams is a live, virtual training program we just launched to the public. It all came from that thing you’re constantly asking me about – making it stick. Nearly every day, I get questions like, “Hey, we read the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and we did a team building day. Now what? How do we keep this going? What do we do next?”

Oy vey, I’ve been there. When you’re leading a team you have so much on your plate. You don’t have time to come up with constant conversation prompts and activities. You’re busy enough trying to stay caught up on IMs and emails. If you feel too busy to take on the project of strengths, you’re normal. You probably feel like you don’t have the time or expertise to pull it off well. Or if you’ve tried, you might feel dorky and awkward as you set up these conversations with your team.

Well imagine if you and your team could just show up to a regularly-scheduled strengths training: an easy-peasy team building cadence built into your schedule. Think of what that would be like:

  • You get to grow. They get to grow.
  • You learn about each other, so you get the team building effect in your meaningful conversations over time.
  • There’s no prep work. No planning.
  • No travel & expense budget to beg for.
  • No writing of business cases to get the team in for an offsite, and
  • No more losing 3 days of productivity so that you can do one day of meals and bowling together.

This is where strengths-based cultures get really useful at work. It’s when you have conversations over time. Rather than a once-per-year outing, it becomes a steady trickle into the everyday work and conversations you’re already having.

Why Do Teams Fail To “Do Strengths” After Their Initial StrengthsFinder Training?

The #1 reason I see CliftonStrengths initiatives fail? It’s because they think of it like an initiative. Like an event. The hype fades off as soon as they get back to work. So, if you do a program like Stronger Teams instead, you get a full year of development together.

If you’ve been thinking that you need to do more to make strengths stick, go check out Stronger Teams. For less than the cost of one in-person training event, you can bring in an entire team of 10 people for a full year.

  • That’s 12 live, virtual trainings.
  • That’s 12 activity guides to help you expand it beyond your immediate team.
  • That’s 12 live Office Hours for live Q&A where I offer strengths coaching conversations.
  • That’s access to a Strengths Vault where you can get quick-hit team tools and watch past recordings.
  • And an online community of peers.  This peer part is really cool because there are members from lots of companies and industries. You also get to  expand your professional network with other strengths-focused teams around the world.

The 9 Core Concepts

Each concept will have a separate podcast episode and blog post to go into detail. After all, this list won’t make full sense until you see the descriptions.

  1. Skills, Experiences, and Talents
  2. Troublemaker Talents
  3. Regulate by Situation
  4. Easy Buttons
  5. Not an Excuse
  6. Gimme That Escalation
  7. Takes Time and Intention
  8. Honored and Insulted
  9. Starved and Fed

Notice What Works: A Challenge

The 3-Coin Challenge  is based on the concept “Notice what works to get more of what works.” It’s simple. You put 3 coins in your pocket. Or paper clips. Or any small item. Try it. Put 3-small-somethings in your pocket right now.

Then, you can get rid of one item at a time as you give away a bit of recognition. Now, you’re not giving the person the actual coin. You’re giving them recognition. You’ll see some examples below.

Do this as a once-per-week challenge. Build a habit by doing it regularly–even daily if you’re game. Keep the recognition small and simple. Don’t give a thought to “saving your pennies for something extra good.” For the purpose of this exercise, there’s no benefit to withholding praise, no matter how small.

Here are a few examples:

Recognizing Ishaan, a Teammate

Imagine that I have a teammate named Ishaan. He takes a call from an irate customer. I hear it, and it’s good. Rather than silently nodding to myself about his moment, I acknowledge it aloud. I say,

“Wow Ishaan. You really worked magic when you talked her off the ledge. She sounded like she was going to leave us, and now she’s a fan again. That was amazing to hear.”

Recognizing Sonia, a Direct Report

“Dang, Sonia! Your 3D data visualization finally made sense of our Q2 forecast. Everyone seemed lost, and then, BAM! Your chart helped it make sense to everyone. Thank you for making it so clear.”

Recognizing Sam, a Peer

“Sam, that question changed the course of this meeting. Thank you for helping us see a new angle. We would have totally missed that.”

So that’s it. Have fun with it. Be generous and specific with the recognition. Get the pesky coins out of your pocket as you “earn them out” by giving away recognition.

You Get What You Measure–And What You Affirm

The beauty of doing this challenge is that you get more of what you affirm. It’s repeatable by the recipient of your praise because they already did it well.

Imagine how powerful that small thought can be. When they think, “Oh, that was easy, and the team seemed to like that. I can do more of that – no problem.”

If you hadn’t told them anything, it’s like they’re walking around the wilderness with a blindfold on and no compass. They just keep trying things to see if anything works. On the other hand, when you recognize them, it’s like taking off the blindfold.

What you appreciate and want is no longer hidden. And it’s like giving them a compass – they have a general direction to align with. And that direction is likely aligned with their strengths, so it will also be easy for them to offer more of it. That’s why you’ll get more of what works when you notice what works.

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.