By Brandon Miller
CEO – 34 Strong, Inc.
Gallup Certified Strengths Coach
At 34 Strong, we are passionate about culture…specifically strengths based culture. Every leader in an organization knows that culture is important and yet it is often an ambiguous thing to grab hold of. Considering culture requires us to think beyond Standard Operating Procedures and consider the people, their norms and customs, and the usual way we all do things beyond the policies in the handbook. The company culture is … us.
The team at 34 Strong has intentionally grown a cooperative, strengths based culture within our four walls. We get jazzed about sharing our approach and helping other organizations create their intended culture. Beyond our own experience, the research shows that strengths based cultures enjoy incredible gains in employee engagement, which translate into personal well-being. Today, Gallup measures employee engagement on average to be around just 30%! That means only 1/3 of our workforce shows up excited and ready to do their job, ready to go above and beyond for the organization, co-workers, and customers they genuinely care about. Wow! What would American workplaces look like if the national average doubled to 60%? Employee engagement has a massive ripple eﬀect, it’s bigger than the bottom line.
CORE 34 A Map for Creating Strengths Based Culture
When we look at culture through the lens of strengths, we see a shift in organizational culture. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with people, we develop team members based on what’s right with them, congruent with their natural strengths and talents. This is our CORE 34 – a three year, four phase approach to helping organizations become strengths based. We get into the details, the nuances of how leaders and managers align with each other and their shared vision. We help businesses develop systems and processes so that how they develop people becomes a part of their Standard Operating Procedures. We want the value of the people to be the foundation for every organization’s culture. CORE 34 is not meant to be prescriptive of the path every organization will take to become strengths based. Rather, it is a guide to provide leaders with a map we recommend, based on our experience, and success with our clients.
In a recent article in thriveglobal, Simon Sinek shares “You can get advice from an outside consultant, and they can come in and teach the techniques, and what to do, but at the end of the day, you are going to have to do it yourself. The outside person cannot take responsibility for your actions.” It really comes down to reproducible actions that the leadership decides to implement and the managers take and make a part of their daily routine. This requires training and intentional investment of valuable resources.
Implementing a strengths based culture takes time. Nothing comes fast when it involves changing how people are accustomed to acting and thinking. We work with government agencies, corporations, and associations daily, understanding that they each already have an established way of how people on their team think, act and believe about each other and the organization. 34 Strong partners with leaders to shift their perspective to a strengths based one, bringing processes and development tracks in line with this new view.
A Strengths Based Culture: Does It Really Matter?
Yes! I recently sat down with a young professional during her exit interview and listened to her share three key reasons why she was leaving a promising future with this particular company.
1.) They were not developing her according to her strengths. She felt that what she was being asked to do was not congruent with her core competencies. Consequently she felt she was wasting not only her time but the company’s money and resources.
2.) Her experience with the leadership was not in alignment with the organization’s mission and vision. How she perceived she was being treated negatively correlated with the culture and values the organization was selling its employees.
3.) She could no longer sustain the work-home imbalance. She was seen as someone who could get things done and though she could she wanted to be seen as more than a work horse. This lady is very talented but she didn’t feel cared for as a human.
Strengths Based Culture: Engaging And Retaining Millennials
Organizations are scratching their head trying to ﬁgure out how to attract, retain and engage Millennials. Establishing a strengths based culture is a way to not only engage this generation, but also their predecessors. Everyone wants to participate in a team where they are seen as unique, gifted and valuable to the whole. A strengths based culture strives for performance excellence by developing strengths in its team members. We see engagement soar, proﬁts increase, safety incidents decrease, and retention strengthen when this approach is applied. It is just good business because it focuses on the one key performance indicator that every leader thinks about: employee engagement.
At 34 Strong, with our CORE 34 process, we are passionate about helping organizations shift the way they do business. We know that a strengths based culture approach is beneﬁcial on every level but most importantly it enhances employee engagement, which beyond the oﬃce looks like healthier families, communities, churches, sports teams, and eventually a better world. We know that an investment in creating a strengths based culture also massively increases profitability, productivity and reduces turnover to name a few. How do we know this? It is simple, our clients have regularly switched their question from how can we afford to create a strengths based culture to: How can we afford NOT to create strengths based culture?
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Brandon Miller is the CEO of 34 Strong Inc. a leader in StrengthsFinder ® training and organizational development. 34 Strong works with organizations across the United States in developing teams around talent to optimize performance and maximize results. Brandon is a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder ® Coach and specializes in working with organizations on developing sustainable strengths-based organizational culture. Brandon’s top five strengths are: Maximizer, Achiever, Activator, Strategic, and Arranger.
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