At a recent “Strengths Bag Lunch,” employees of EnergyCAP, Inc. (ECI) discussed how to get better at “Responsibility.” The entire company has taken the CliftonStrengths assessment, which measures 34 areas of talent. The idea is to help people to develop their top areas of talent into strengths, and then utilize their strengths to achieve their outcomes.
This simple approach yields great results. Studies show that when folks are able to do what they do best every day, they report significant increases in motivation, creativity, productivity, and positive interactions with coworkers. With these outcomes in mind, ECI has embraced a strengths-based approach to employee development and performance management.
One of the top employee talents at ECI (and around the world) is called “Responsibility.” According to Gallup, which owns StrengthsFinder, “People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.”
People high in Responsibility can be counted on to get their work done right, and they take personal interest in completing work on time. They own their work, through and through. Sounds great, but there are drawbacks. With every talent comes pitfalls, hence the discussion about how to get better at Responsibility.
Thanks to the bag lunch, here are four ways to improve your “Responsibility Talent.”
Folks high in Responsibility like to say yes to the requests of others. While this may seem good and supportive, it can cause you to take on too many tasks. Not only that, but you pick up extra psychological weight as well—ownership is heavy.
Instead of saying yes on the spot, say, “I’ll get back to you.” This way you'll have time to assess how the new work will affect your workload and peace of mind.
Folks high in Responsibility are driven to do the work correctly. While this produces high quality work, it can sometimes be overkill. Perfection isn’t required all the time, so get clear on what “finished” means.
Understand the expected outcome and aim for that, or a little better. But don’t spend extra time tweaking and perfecting what doesn’t have to be perfect in the end.
Responsibility is an “executing” type of talent, which means it’s focused on getting work done. This can create an independent mindset that says, “No one will do it right like me.”
While the focus on quality and ownership is good, your contribution will be limited if you’re the only one producing. Look around and delegate to others what you can.
Realistic expectations are vital for well-functioning Responsibility. Without them, you’ll feel like you’re treading water while wearing a blindfold. Protect yourself by asking the right questions to establish the right expectations.
Think of timeframe, deliverables, partners, etc. If you can’t start for a few weeks, say so. If an aspect is unclear, speak up. Clear expectations are like the borders of a canvas that let Responsibility roam wild and free.
Responsibility is motivating, thorough, and dependable when it's working, but can be debilitating when it's not. If you could focus on one improvement, which would it be? What would progress in that area bring to your life and work? How shall Responsibility roam wild and free, responsibly?