May 24, 2013

Do You Know Your Strengths?

“One of my strengths is positivity, which I never thought about as a strength before…I realized that this is not just a personality trait, it’s a personality trait that counts in the workplace. It was eye-opening for me.”

As you may have seen on our Instagram feed, we had a brilliant opportunity to visit charity: water HQ in New York last week. While we were talking about the employee culture at the organization, our gracious host Lindsay Ratowsky shared with us a unique assessment that every applicant takes during the hiring process called Strengths Finder.

The reason? Quite simply, charity: water wants people to succeed. Lindsay tells us, “The point of the test is to make sure that you as an individual and your staff as a whole are playing to your strengths. We are all naturally good at some things and not great at other things. Why not apply your strengths towards your job?” We couldn’t agree more!

Naturally, we were super intrigued and went out immediately to buy the book Strengths Finder 2.0, so we could take the test. Author Tom Rath shares something very poignant about what happens when you are working in a job that is not in your “strengths zone.” People who are not working in their strength zone:

- dread going to work
- have more negative than positive interactions with colleagues
- treat their customers poorly
- tell their friends what a miserable company they work for
- achieve less on a daily basis
- have fewer positive and creative moments

Another interesting thing we learned is that Strengths Finder measures talent, not strength. Because talent is an essential ingredient to building a true strength, the creators of the test named it Strengths Finder (the other important ingredient to building a strength is investment, i.e. time spent developing your skill and increasing your knowledge).

So what can you do once you know your strengths?

Connect the dots. As Rath states in the book that often our talents have something in common - a theme - that connects them. For example, if your talents include: a natural tendency to share thoughts, create engaging stories and find the perfect word, you’ll notice that a common theme of all these traits is communication. Or if you are dependable, have a sense of commitment and avoid making excuses, the common theme is responsibility. Identifying the theme of your talents wis a great jumping off point to learn what strengths you can naturally build.

Show them off. The creative team at charity: water creates a visual representation of each employee’s strengths, which everyone displays proudly at their desks. (Check out Lindsay’s above!)

Work better with others. With knowledge of everyone’s strengths, charity: water can make sure each employee contributes to their true potential. Lindsay shares that this tool is really helpful in understanding your co-workers; you learn what to expect from people, how they work best, and what projects might be best suited for each individual.

Manage your weaknesses. No one is naturally talented at everything. Be efficient with your time and energy. Instead of focusing on improving where you are weakest, stay committed to building your strengths and team up with someone who can complement your shortcomings. As our friend Ido Leffler said at our recent salon dinner in San Francisco, “I outsource everything I suck at.”


What are your top 5 strengths? Share with us on Facebook.



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