Counter Intelligence by Jim Seybert – February 2010
It looks like I am finally going to make good on my promise to get a Class B driver’s license, so I can join the transportation team at my church and volunteer to drive the bus. My schedule allows the flexibility and I love to drive, so it’s a good fit.
One of the most important aspects of driving a bus is paying attention to the mechanical condition of everything from running lights to oil pressure. The driver is required to conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle before starting any trip. The gauges and indicator lights provide regular feedback along the way and a final assessment is made at the end of the run.
Most business managers proceed through projects in a similar fashion; good pre-planning, periodic evaluation and post-completion review. It’s common practice to conduct strategy audits to guard against “mission creep.” I’ve led my share of corporate teams as they answer the question, “Is what we’re doing taking us to where we want to be?”
But, while they pay particular attention to project, budgets and other metrics, managers too often ignore the most critical mid-course assessment – a personal strengths audit.
There is a proven correlation between strengths and job performance. Productivity and customer service scores are likely to be higher among teams where individual members focus on their strengths a majority of the time. And, most managers understand that.
Truth is – it’s too easy to drift out of your zone, to slide out of the flow. You jump in when urgent situations arise and before you realize it’s happening, you move from a position of strength to one of mediocrity, or worse.
Any time you spend working outside your strengths is time spent on less productive pursuits. Sometimes it’s necessary. We call it “work” because we occasionally need to suck it up and get the job done. Nonetheless – deviations from your strength focus should be intentional, short-lived and as infrequent as possible.
Staying on course
Here’s a simple tool you can use to conduct a cursory strengths audit on your own activities. Use a scale from 0 to 5 for each question. A score of 5 should indicate the absolute highest positive response, while the zero should be reserved for the absolute lowest possible response.
- Have you ever formally evaluated your strengths? ____
- If asked, could you recite your strengths? ____
- How often do you plan your day with your strengths in mind? ____
- If the goal is to use your strengths 75% of the time, how close did you come last week? ____
- Last week, were you able to use a strength at least once a day? ____
Add the scores and divide by five. If your result is 5 you are either confused or delusional. If you scored less than 5, use the questions as a guideline for a bit more intentionality. Then run the audit again in a month to see if things have improved.
Consistent and intentional application of your strengths, and those of your team, will have a demonstrative affect on your bottom line.