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The Danger of a One-Time Strengths Event—and a Solution

Over the last five years, I’ve led hundreds of training events, mostly around CliftonStrengths®. Usually, the idea for an event begins with team leaders wanting to do something for their team.

Maybe there’s a team retreat coming up, or there’s a team problem to solve, or they want to offer professional development, or they’ve heard of the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly StrengthsFinders®).

Different reasons have brought them to me, but most events end the same way—with a one-time training event. It is fun, educational, and enlightening, and although I leave them with action steps and resources, I wonder:

  • if the momentum will continue
  • how they will grow
  • what will happen with new team members
  • who will take charge or implement changes?

I wonder these things because I remember what it was like working for a company. There are competing priorities. There are deadlines and due dates. There are unexpected changes. There are difficult people. It can be hard to stay focused and follow through, especially when something’s new and not seen as mission critical.

Team leaders may have good intentions to bring CliftonStrengths to their teams, but often lack the ability to make it stick. Too many things get in the way. In the end, it becomes “something the team did at that retreat a few years ago.”

But CliftonStrengths is best when it becomes a best practice among the team, when strengths are the common language, when members seek to build strengths-based partnerships, when members actively turn their talents into strengths, and in short, when the team builds a strengths-based culture.

This cannot be accomplished in a three-hour workshop. Yes, teams can make a good start and create some intention, but the work must be ongoing and deliberate. Otherwise, the team will not yield the incredible benefits of strengths, namely increased productivity, satisfaction, innovation, and collaboration.

But as great as strengths are, they’re not the end; they are the means. We’ve written recently about the real cause of the Great Resignation and the permissible disease of the workplace. Many organizations are either ignoring or failing to address the widespread and damaging problem of majority disengagement, and it’s costing them huge amounts of money every year. Strengths are not the end—employee engagement is—and strengths are a means to that end.

Engagement increases when employees:

  • fully utilize their talents in their individual roles
  • are given the autonomy to produce outcomes via their strengths
  • see themselves as part of a team that relies on their strengths
  • experience satisfaction when using their strengths

Although there are other pieces to the engagement puzzle—and we’ll talk about them in the future—strengths are a critical part of it. They’re too important to leave behind in a one-time event. At the same time, we know workplaces are busy. We know good intention only goes so far. We know you don’t want to miss the benefits that are available.

That’s why we’re starting a learning community called the Refresh Network. The purpose of our network is to help you stay fresh and connected in strengths and engagement.

It’s perfect for:

  • continuing your professional development
  • building a team culture
  • connecting with like-minded people
  • onboarding new employees

Refresh Network opens on October 1.

CliftonStrengths® and CliftonStrengths® theme names are registered trademarks of the Gallup Organization.

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