In a previous post we looked at using your personal values to guide your career. This will be more important for certain value driven individuals.
One interesting question regarding personal values concerns the fit between an individuals’ personal values and an organizations’ values. This post delves into some of the research in this area and uncovers some of the benefits to individuals and organisations of a ‘good fit’?
Intuitively we all know that working to our strengths is good for us; in life and at work. In life we naturally gravitate towards activities that engage our strongest traits. At work, the picture is not often as clear cut. Sometimes we end up in roles that seem to be playing to our strengths more. Sometimes the opposite happens and performance and enthusiasm fall off a cliff.
At work, the language of strengths is not a universal concept. You’re much more likely to be engaged in a conversation about your weaknesses and what you can do to improve upon them.
But the tide is turning and the evidence behind strengths and their individual and organizational benefits continues to build. People like Marcus Buckingham (First Break All the Rules) and colleagues over at Gallup have been banging the strengths drum for what seems like decades.
But new, interesting information is coming to light. Information that blows up the impact of strengths on to whole new dimensions. Van Woerkom, Oerlemans and Bakker have been exploring the impact that working to strengths could have on employee engagement.
A few weeks into my working career I became familiar with the concept of core values. I came across a book that was left on the pool of desks that I was working at, entitled ‘The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management’. It was written by a gentleman named Hyrum Smith, who at the time was the CEO of the Franklin Quest Company; an American company that specialised in providing tools and training around time management.
His underlying message has stuck with me to this day. Find out what is truly important to you (your governing values) and then ensure that what you do each day (your daily tasks) is aligned to and moving you towards those values.
As Hyrum puts it:
‘If you set goals that aren’t aligned with your values, you may accomplish a great deal, but you won’t ever be satisfied, because you’ll be neglecting the things that matter most to you. By the same token, if you create a daily task list that doesn’t reflect your long-range and intermediate goals, you’ll be busy but not productive.’
So what is the evidence supporting the importance of aligning your career to your personal strengths? The Gallup organization has been collecting data on human behaviour and organizational performance for decades. The have interviewed over a million employees asking each of them hundreds of different questions, on every conceivable aspect of the workplace.
This is what they have to say about working to your personal strengths:
‘Gallup researchers studied human behaviors and strengths for decades and established a compelling connection between strengths and employee engagement in the workplace’1
They go on to say:
‘ Additionally, Gallup’s studies show that using strengths leads to improved health and wellness outcomes. The more hours each day that Americans are able to use their strengths to do what they do best, the less likely they are to report experiencing worry, stress, anger, sadness, or physical pain during the previous day.’2
When looking at job descriptions it is important to distinguish between strengths, knowledge and skills. This allows you to have a clearer picture of whether the role is the right one for you. The challenge is that job descriptions do not always make this an easy task.
The first step is being clear on the difference between stengths, skills and knowledge. An example using my favourite former basketball player (Michael Jordan) might help to illustrate the difference.
Few would question that Jordan is one of the best, if not the best, basketball player of all time, but what were the strengths, skills and knowledge that made him so great? Undoubtedly his athletic ability was one of his key strengths, helping him perform spectacular gravity defying manoeuvres. However, what separated him from other great athletes were his unrivalled ruthless competitiveness and his ability to focus and believe in himself (confidence) to come through in pressure situations.
I’ve recently been looking into the work of Bakker and Demerouti regarding Job Demands – Resources Theory and what it can tell us about employee motivation, engagement and wellbeing.
Job Demands – Resources Theory
JD-R theory as it’s known states that the workplace can be modelled using 2 different elements:
- Job Demands
- Job Resources
Strengths are the foundation of all successful careers and lives. Working to your strengths allows you to perform your best, maintain motivation and sustain enjoyment. Use the below list of strengths to explore your own strengths.
Identifying your strengths should be a key activity of any successful career search.
This post provides a list of strengths that are commonly referenced in role profiles.
Look through the list of strengths, become familiar with the language and see which ones stand out as strengths that you possess.
Check out the previous post to help identify your key strengths.