Apparently only 24% of people within Australia are engaged in their jobs and enjoy the work they do. For employees in leadership positions in Australia and New Zealand this percentage is even lower, with only 19% of leaders engaged in their roles. (Gallup’s State of Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide Report 2012).
I was shocked by this, and it saddens me to think that most people really only get out of bed each day to earn a pay cheque, not to contribute to something that means something substantial to them or that they are passionate about. Often people end up in roles that they know are not right for them, but they don’t change their circumstances out of fear of not knowing where they should go, what they need to do or how they are going to get there. What they have is comfortable, familiar, it comes with a regular pay cheque and most of the time it covers the bills.
There are a lot of leadership and personal development tools available that can assist you with your own self development and that of your teams and organisation. Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have been exposed to many, and most of them are really great tools that do provide a great insight into who you are, what makes you tick and how you interact with others. It also enables you to gain greater self-awareness which is very valuable along the path to improving your effectiveness.
In a recent team building day I had the opportunity to learn about a new tool called ‘StrengthsFinder’ from Gallup during a session facilitated by one of our team members who has recently obtained their accreditation. Unlike other tools, this tool doesn’t focus on your weaknesses and areas that you need to develop. StrengthsFinder is focused on identifying your strengths, which allows you as an individual to focus on roles and tasks that are suited to your preferences, not only excel at them, but allows you to ignite your inner passion for what you do and find your motivation to achieve it.
Whilst there were no real ‘ah ha’ moments for me personally during this session regarding my own strengths, I gained a good insight into some of the newer members of our team and what roles and activities they need to be involved with in our business. By using StrengthsFinder within your team you receive a chart summarising everyone’s preferences, highlighting the strengths you have as a team around execution, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking. This same chart also identifies areas that you also should be aware of as a team, because if you all have similar preferences this has the potential to result in weaknesses as a team within one of these areas. Essentially the tool allows you to nurture your culture towards high performance, by building on individual and team strengths. Everyone wants to be part of a team and an organisation, in a role that allows them to do tasks and activities that they enjoy, do well, feel a sense of achievement and are motivated to excel.
The analytics behind the tool are also interesting as there were others within my team who had the same strength as me, however my summary was completely tailored for me according to my underlying preferences and how I completed the questionnaire. We each took the time to read our summaries and as my team know me very well, my summary was almost entertaining as it was so accurate against my preferences and behaviours! What I really like about this tool is that it uses language that is simple, easy to follow and easy to remember. It is also very affordable which makes it an ideal tool to implement throughout an organisation as opposed to only within your leadership team.
So if you are one of those people who isn’t excited or passionate about what you do, take the StrengthsFinder test, find out what your strengths are and find a project or role that allows you to play to these strengths. I can guarantee that once you find what it is that will motivate you, the way you perceive your work and what you do will change forever. Particularly if you are a leader within your organisation, because leaders play such a significant role influencing the engagement among employees who report to them.
We all have the ability to make choices throughout our lives. Make sure you don’t let this choice pass you by. You don’t want to wait until you’re in your 50’s and close to retirement reflecting on life, wondering what could have been if you had made the decision to pursue your strengths and what you are passionate about. Design your life around your passions and strengths and watch success follow.
If you would like further information on how you can develop your strengths, or are thinking about undertaking coaching, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.