Lean Into Your Strengths for Teams

When you give individuals the opportunity to discover what they do best using the CliftonStrengths® assessment, they can see their role in the team’s success. In addition, leaders who understand their own strengths and those of their teams can build stronger relationships for improved performance.

Key Highlights:

  • Individuals learn how to turn their natural talents into strengths.
  • An understanding of how strengths are distributed across the team.
  • A common language to work better with one another.
  • Teams explore how strengths can help them move past obstacles.

Outcomes:

  • More meaningful and direct communication
  • Improved interdependence and a more cohesive group
  • Increased engagement, productivity, and performance
  • Lower turnover and attrition

It’s the Manager

Team members who receive authentic feedback from a supportive manager are three times more likely to be engaged than those who only receive feedback once a year in a performance review.

As you make plans for leadership development, don’t overlook the role managers and team leaders play in your company’s long-term success.

A workplace where everyone belongs is not just an aspiration, it is a business imperative. Today, leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all teammates know that they belong, and all customers feel welcomed and appreciated.

Interact Studio helps leaders conduct Conversations of Belonging to advance the process of listening, understanding, discussing, and appreciating differences of all types and building a culture where everyone fits.

  • Stories of Belonging begins with a common language around diversity—and how to structure productive diversity conversations. In breakout sessions, participants share stories about diversity, equity, and inclusion. 2-hour workshop.
  • Difficult Conversations provides tools and practice for initiating conversations about differences and Stories of Belonging. 3-hour workshop.
  • Becoming an Ally explores allyship and the ways to support and champion marginalized people and groups. 1.5-hour workshop.
  • Moving to Belonging focuses on belonging and steps the organization can take to advance the journey. 2-hour follow-up session.

The Interact team, including DEI expert M. Quinten Williams, will work with you to create customized sessions that begin where you are and move at a pace and intensity that is right for your team.

At Interact Studio, we’ve designed and delivered solutions for hundreds of leaders, managers, and team leaders. We have a set of interrelated tools to draw from.

No matter what the topic, we can help managers embrace their “true work,” which is to support and develop understanding among their team members.

Key Highlights

  • Listening. Dialogue revolves around not only speaking but committed listening.
  • Articulating the Company Vision. Leaders who can do this in an authentic, relevant way are seen as trustworthy.
  • Message Mapping Method. You will learn our formula for organizing discussion material and managing Q & A successfully.
  • Storytelling. Story elements can help you make a personal connection in conversation.
  • Handling pushback. Leaders become skilled at dealing with difficult conversations.

Outcomes

  • A consistent approach to conversations that move initiatives forward.
  • Less resistance to changes as teammates understand and accept the rationale, even though they might not like them.
  • A renewed appreciation for everyone doing their best in difficult situations.
  • Improved morale and trust among team members.

Providing Feedback After two days with us at Interact Studio, some clients tell us they’ve received more feedback than they ever have in the workplace. They tell us they often operate in a bubble, not really knowing if they’re doing well or falling behind.

This made us curious.  Just how much of a problem is this, really?

What Leaders Say About Their Discomfort with Giving Employees Feedback

In January, we joined with the Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of 1,120 employed U.S. workers, 616 of whom manage employees in the workplace. A stunning majority (69%) of managers say there is something about their role as a leader that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

In fact, the fear of hurting people’s feelings and facing drama and retribution is reaching crisis proportions in the workplace, with over a third (37%) of America’s business leaders reporting they are uncomfortable having to give direct feedback/criticism about their employee’s performance that they might respond badly to.

Where Leaders Fall Short

The results showed that leaders who manage employees in the workplace are uncomfortable on a number of communication fronts, including:

  • Demonstrating vulnerability (e.g., sharing mistakes they’ve learned from) (20%)
  • Recognizing employee achievements (e.g., giving praise for a job well done) (20%)
  • Delivering the “company line” in a genuine way (20%)
  • Giving clear directions (19%)
  • Crediting others with having good ideas (16%)
  • Speaking face to face rather than by email (16%)

Establishing A Feedback Culture

These results point to a breach in genuine communication in the workplace.  With the stakes being what they are, leaders have to turn this around.  We have some ideas about how to do that.

One man bands have no place in today's flat, matrixed organizationsIt takes courage, commitment, and character to be a good coach, and it’s made more difficult in today’s flat, matrixed organizations. Task forces succeed or fail on the commitment and contributions of each team member.

Coaching in a Matrixed Task Force

Enter Hannah*. She’s a bright, creative, and energized professional who was called to lead an important task force in her organization. The end-game of the assignment was to recommend a technology solution for recruiting.

As an individual contributor, this was a great opportunity for Hannah to shine through her ability to lead a matrixed team. Almost immediately she noticed that Conrad*, one of her peers and fellow task force members, was showing signs of resentment. Likely because he was not selected to lead the team. He was dragging his feet and passive-aggressively missing agreed-upon deadlines. All signs that he did not respect Hannah’s leadership.

To make matters worse, he began showing up late to meetings and had a track record of not replying to Hannah’s emails requesting status updates. The situation put a strain on the team and was keeping Hannah up at night.
By the time Hannah came to me, she was frustrated, tired, and quite frankly, stuck. Sound familiar?

Five Steps to Coaching Co-Workers

But she didn’t stay stuck for long. Here’s how Hannah coached her co-worker (and started sleeping through the night):

  1. Get some rest.

    • No kidding – it’s easy to feel like the victim of someone else’s blatant ignorance/maliciousness/incompetence when we are tired and stressed. It’s amazing what a good night of rest will do to help us see the full picture – and to see that the “coachee” is probably not the Spawn of Satan. He’s just doing what makes sense to him based on his background. For Hannah, this meant realizing that Conrad had long been rewarded for his tenure in the organization and for working independently.  He probably felt threatened by the new “whippersnapper” who came onto the scene and was chosen over him to lead the project. For him, it probably felt like the rules of the game had changed, and suddenly innovative thinking was valued over experience. Once Hannah realized that she could see Conrad with softer eyes and greater understanding.
  2. Base feedback in behaviors.

    • (READ: not in PERSONALITY). As you’re preparing to give the feedback, ask yourself what actions are ineffective rather than focusing on what you feel are personality flaws. This meant that while Hannah may have felt that Conrad was lazy/entitled/selfish, telling him that would have been counterproductive. Instead, she made a list of the top three behaviors she observed that were holding the team back: missing deadlines, arriving late to meetings, and not replying to her emails. Then she identified the risks to the task force if the behaviors didn’t change, ranging from resentment in the team to failing to meet the audit deadline.
  3. Find your own fingerprints.

    • Hannah admitted that because she and Conrad were peers, she came to the task force with preconceived notions about him; namely that his mindset was that experience should be more important than leading change. The combination of that filter and her admitted dislike of conflict resulted in her delaying the conversation with him – and that allowed for more missed deadlines.  That was her contribution to the problem, and she admitted it, both to herself and to him.
  4. Partner, don’t point.

    • Instead of telling Conrad what he needed to do differently, Hannah asked him what he needed from her to be successful. By expressing the desire to partner in the success of the project rather than pointing the finger at Conrad, Hannah showed her commitment to success—even if it meant a little more work for her. And…bazinga…Conrad asked her to meet one-on-one each week to ensure he was meeting expectations. Simple solution, and (added bonus!) it gave Hannah peace of mind as well.
  5. Appreciate it, don’t wait.

    • I also call this idea “catch ‘em doing it right” —and thank them. Anytime we’re shifting an old behavior, we need positive reinforcement to overcome the prior bad habit.  So Hannah thanked Conrad in-person each time he completed a task ahead of the deadline. Soon she found that they were celebrating the success of the entire project! Plus, she started sleeping through the night again!