No more mandatory training

Please stop ordering wide groups of people to attend training classes.  You’re making it easier on you as an implementer when you insist on treating all the people the same, but you’re destroying a grand opportunity to learn a lot about the people of the group and to serve them better.  Wrapped up in that loss is the loss of better outcomes for your organization.

Try another way.

Consider using opportunities for training as ways to differentiate people by their talents (see this Gallup Management Journal article) or by their willingness to adopt and adapt to new knowledge (see Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve below, from suewaters site).

Let’s say you want better writers in your organization and you choose to deploy a writing course for all employees.  Here’s how that plays out if you seize the opportunity to drive change instead of driving people.

First, you’d offer the first classes to your best writers, or those most interested in improving their writing and let them choose to get to attend.   You’ll discover your innovators (the people who were writing well already) and the early adopters (the ones willing to jump on board with only the slightest prompting).

Next, reach out to targeted people in the early majority by suggesting this course is one of several ways they could improve their writing.  See who takes you up on the offer, or who chooses one of the other options (e.g., a book list, peer mentoring).  All you care about is that they write better, not that they take a writing course.  Don’t confuse your means (the course) with your ends (better writers).

Finally, allow people to admit they are in the late majority or the laggards without shame.  Perhaps their strengths aren’t in writing and getting them to be better at it isn’t worth the time and energy you and they would have to put into it for the modest to non-existent gains you would achieve.  Find them a place to play to their strengths where writing is less important to organizational success.  Consider their lack of interest in the training a cost savings over what you would have spent on their unsuccessful mandatory training.

I will consider all my hours of writing on this blog doubly worth the effort if just one person is saved from a training class that they manifestly don’t want to attend that works on their weakness that if they had any free will left in their job they would never, ever choose to do again.  We can’t afford to waste money on training people to be something they don’t want to be.  Let’s work on improving what they are good at and using all of that to make our organizations the best they possibly can be.

Why not try?  Who’s with me?

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Strategy for Strengths

Do you know what your strengths are? Have you taken Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0?  It’s less than $15 at Amazon; that’s too cheap to pass up.  Go order it now (and that’s not an order, but a strong suggestion).

If you take the assessment and you’re looking for someone to talk you through what it really means for you, just let me know at engineforchange@gmail.com.  I love helping people come up with strategies for how to take advantage of their strengths.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know I’m a fan of Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment.  See previous posts here, here and here.

One of my top five strengths is Strategic and I’ve had the privilege of playing to it a lot lately.  I feel energized after I hold a strategy session with someone who is trying to solve a problem and is looking for some ideas for how to solve it.  I throw out a lot of suggestions and allow the person to choose for themselves which solutions work best.

Over the years of focusing on my strengths I’ve learned that any day that has one of these strategy opportunities is going to be a great day.  Today was no exception.

Thank you to my friends and coworkers who let me play to my strengths and assist them through their task challenges.  I wouldn’t be as energized without you.

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We are strong

Tomorrow I’ll have the privilege to facilitate a team through a strengths discussion.  I’m playing to my strengths when I’m talking a group through realizing that they have powerful strengths which they so desperately need to leverage for their own sakes and for the sake of their organizations.

As I drove home today, my mind wandered back to December 2009, when a group of strengths zealots and I started down this strengths journey.  Back then, on my other blog, I wrote:

I’m on what can only be called a strengths kick.  I’m simply, positively obsessed at the moment with helping others discover their strengths.  In 2005 I took an online test, Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, which told me my top five strengths (really talents that if I practiced at them would become strengths).  Boy, did I practice.  I designed my work (as much as I could) around my strengths and practiced and practiced and practiced.  In November 2009 I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test and]now I’d say I know how to–and work hard to–use my top nine strengths every day:

  • Maximizer (working to get the best out of everyone)
  • Strategic (seeing patterns in random events)
  • Arranger (putting the pieces in the right places)
  • Learner (searching for new ideas)
  • Activator (easy for me to start something)
  • Woo (winning others over)
  • Achiever (claiming successes energizes me)
  • Relator (creating relationships with people)
  • Self-Assurance (belief that I can accomplish what I want to accomplish)

Recently I’ve had the opportunity at work to help others take the test and discover their strengths.  Just today, with a team, I got to plan how we’re going to provide more strengths training opportunities to people across our organization.  I’m so energized it’s hard for me to stay in my seat.

Since December 2009 the zealots and I have helped nearly 1,000 people discover their strengths and discuss how to leverage those strengths for their benefit and for the benefit of their organizations.

If you haven’t taken Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 test or watched Marcus Buckingham’s Trombone Player Wanted DVD, buy them today. Then take the online StrengthsFinder test. Then watch the DVD.

You’ll be glad you didn’t wait even one more day. Playing to your strengths puts fuel in your tank, energizing you to drive change.

[Note: If you work with me, contact me at work and I’ll let you know how to get into the sessions we’re offering there.  You don’t have to buy your own book or DVD.  We’ve got them both for you.]

Bonus option: Post your five strengths and what you’ve done with them in the comments.

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17% and the wonderfully awesome day

In Trombone Player Wanted, Marcus Buckingham says that only 17% of people questioned in a Gallup poll said they play to their strengths most of the time at work.

I’m one of the people in that 17% so most days are great for me, but today was an especially wonderful day.

I feel strong when I’m connecting a person with a strength with a group that can tap into that strength and make the person and the group their most successful. (In Gallup’s strengths language I’m a Maximizer.)

Today I participated in two opportunities fairs where more than 1,000 people got an opportunity to discover a way to play to their strengths more often at work.  It was fabulous!  And, I made a few smaller connections between individuals, connections that are going to produce amazing results; I’m sure of it.

I feel strong when I’m preparing training on a difficult topic for a skeptical audience and I get the training product to the polishing stage.  I’m training a skeptical group in the morning and I polished the training up today. By the end of the tomorrow I’ll know if I was successful with my training and its polish.  For now I get to enjoy the feeling of playing to my strength most of the day.  In Seth Godin language, I feel strong when I get the product ready to ship.  Since the training is ready to ship, I couldn’t be happier.

Enough about my day.

When in your work week do you feel strong?

When in your work week are you playing to your strengths?

When you play to your strengths do you stop and celebrate the moment? If not, why not?

Playing to your strengths isn’t easy and not every day is a wonderfully awesome day, but on those wonderfully awesome days, stop to celebrate them.  If you don’t, who will?

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Supercharge your strengths

You can’t drive change alone.  You’ll need help.  You’ll need to find your Ando.

On the TV show Heroes, Ando is the loyal friend of hero Hiro.

Ando’s special ability is called supercharging.  Ando’s presence allows other “evolved humans” to elevate their powers, sometimes by 1,000 times.

Imagine what you could do with 1,000 times your own abilities!

In the show, Ando got his strengths multiplying ability after injecting himself with a crazy formula.  Please don’t encourage/trick a loyal friend into any injections!  There’s a better way.

Instead, take Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment and encourage your loyal friends/indifferent co-workers to do the same.

What’ll it cost you?

About $14 and an hour per assessment.

What’ll it get you?

Words to describe your strengths, details on your friends/co-workers strengths and a new opportunity to find your strengths match, your Ando.

What’ll it look like?

Say you’re a strategic thinker (the assessment will tell you if you are).  You know what changes need to be made to make your work group to be more effective, but you can’t get anyone to listen to your ideas.  You need to partner with an influencer, someone who can sell your ideas to the people in power.  If you’re a “get ‘er done” executor-type that happens to get ‘er done so well sometimes you lose team members along the way, you’d benefit from having a relationship-building partner that keeps the team together while you all get the job done.

When you pool your strengths finder results you’ll have all you need to find someone who matches your strengths and amplifies your potential.

I know your Ando is out there.

Why not try for 1,000 times your strengths?

Or:

Have you found your Ando already?  Tell us how.  Comment away!

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No limits

Today at Seth Godin’s blog, under the title “Accepting Limits”:

It’s absurd to look at a three year old toddler and say, “this kid can’t read or do math or even string together a coherent paragraph. He’s a dolt and he’s never going to amount to anything.” No, we don’t say that because we know we can teach and motivate and cajole the typical kid to be able to do all of these things.

Why is it okay, then, to look at a teenager and say, “this kid will never be a leader, never run a significant organization, never save a life, never inspire or create…”

Just because it’s difficult to grade doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught.

Never mind a teenager. I think it’s wrong to say that about someone who’s fifty.

Isn’t it absurd to focus so much energy on ‘practical’ skills that prep someone for a life of following instructions but relentlessly avoid the difficult work necessary to push someone to reinvent themselves into becoming someone who makes a difference?

And isn’t it even worse to write off a person or an organization merely because of what they are instead of what they might become?

My local friends and I  have been having this conversation over and over again, while training our combination of Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Marcus Buckingham’s Trombone Player Wanted.

The question: Can you really make yourself into something special, something more than you ever expected?

Our answer: Yes!

Of the more than 100 people we’ve trained we’ve have 20-year-old and 60-year-olds and everyone in between.  The 60-year-olds wish they’d had the training when they were 20 and the 20-year-olds wish they’d had it when they were 17. Why do they wish they’d had it before?  Because our message is Godin’s message: Know your strengths. Know other’s strengths.  Stop putting people into “only as good as X” boxes and let everyone achieve their best.

Why not try at least?

There are many people, organizations, you-name-it in the world that will happily continue to tell you that you, your organization, your you-name-it won’t ever be anything more than what you are today.  Stop listening to them!

If you like that comfortable, keep-at-it, self-limiting talk, you’re in the wrong place.  You’ll get none of that talk here.

My favorite Buckingham lines from Trombone Player Wanted are (and I’ll admit to paraphrasing):

You have real and powerful strengths.  No one has the exact strengths as you.  And you’ll make your biggest impact on the world when you find those strengths and train them and offer them repeatedly to the world.

According to StrengthsFinder 2.0 I’m a maximizer.  The Gallup Management Journal says, for maximizers:

Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling.

Yep.  That’s me.  I love it!  All of you are strong in something and deserve the time and attention to develop into something superb.  I’m overjoyed to be on the journey with you.

If you’re up for no limits, welcome to Engine for Change.

Feel free to invite your friends along for the ride.  The more the merrier.

Who doesn’t like a trip to someplace special, someplace superb?

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Cheap way to find your strengths

Want to improve yourself, your work, your family?  Stop focusing your limited improvement time on your weaknesses.  Spend the bulk of that time on your strengths.

If you don’t know what your strengths are, you should find out.  And, finding out has never been cheaper.

For less than the price of a movie ticket (and popcorn), and for less than the time to watch the movie, you can learn your top five strengths.

How? The Story Continues…

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