December 7, 2023

TPL Insights #200 – Using Gallup Research And Effective Coaching To Drive Peak Performance

By Rob Andrews

By Rob Andrews with italicized content from Gallup’s “How to Create a Strengths-Based Company Culture,” published on November 29, 2022

51% of employees surveyed by Gallup are actively looking for a new job and are spending significant time watching job openings and applying to those that resonate with them. Gallup, in its new guide, lays out a compelling case for building a strengths-based company culture. The approach is a powerful differentiator that will help you attract top talent, bring out the best in every employee, and drive formidable organic growth. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder 34 is the cornerstone of our coaching model and one of two key assessment suites with which we typically start when coaching senior leaders, boards, and organizations.

The dissatisfaction driving these numbers can be driven by a toxic culture, or just a lazy one. It’s easy for any company, particularly if you’re doing well, to take your eye off the ball. Cultural health is like physical health. If you don’t take care of it, it’s going to deteriorate. If your company doesn’t nurture and continually measure the health and strength of your culture, the result will likely include unengaged teams and an uninspiring company culture. As Gallup points out, lack of attention and investment in keeping your culture fresh, inspiring, and exciting is a very costly mistake.

Gallup says that far too many people wake up and go to jobs that pay well and have great benefits, but still treat them like interchangeable cogs in a giant machine. These companies may look good on the surface, but lack the cultural elements that strongly link to employee engagement and peak performance such as:    

  1. A Manager who Understands and Motivates Employees – the strongest driver of employee engagement.
  2. Sense of Purpose – a strong driver of retention among all employees but particularly for millennials.
  3. Growth Opportunity – the top reason people leave their job, and a primary attractor to new jobs.

An “ok” workplace might not seem bad on the surface, but over time it demotivates employees, conjuring up that dread and decreasing productivity, engagement, and retention. Some leaders try team building activities or creating more interesting values to encourage a productive atmosphere and positive attitude, but those things don’t give employees a practical way to live out and connect with the company’s culture on a personal level. Most leaders know they need a better culture but don’t know how to create it. Creating a strength-based culture includes a positive work environment, but it goes far beyond that.

Companies must develop people in a way that meets their personal desires for belonging, uniqueness, and growth, and in turn helps individuals look forward to work, improves team collaboration and performance, and spikes the company’s organic growth. Performance gains will only materialize if a company embraces its wide variety of individuals and gives them a reason to apply their diverse talents and viewpoint for a common purpose. When employees know and use their God-given strengths, they are more engaged, nearly 6X more, have dramatically higher performance and are far less likely to leave their company. Just using a great assessment, like CliftonStrengths, is not enough to drive the culture to which you aspire. You’ve got to change the way you think and the conversations you have with employees.

In a culture that embraces what Gallup calls a strength-based philosophy, managers and leaders choose to continually develop each person’s potential. The philosophy necessarily emanates from the company’s purpose, mission, values and strategy, and drives behaviors and everyday performance. Leaders learn to have conversations around strengths, development opportunities and long-term career goals. Strength-based organizations shift away from the old ways of managing people to more effective, forward-thinking ways of developing them. They recognize the workplace of the future prioritizes:

  1. Purpose vs. Paycheck – Today’s employees want work that is meaningful to them. Understanding where they’re strongest allows employees to connect with their company’s purpose. Your purpose, literally the reason for your company’s existence, should be the first thing a potential recruit encounters and the reason they choose to engage with you or not.
  2. Development vs. Satisfaction – By and large, people don’t care about frivolous perks at work. They want to be developed in ways that tap into their natural talents and align with their long-term career aspirations.
  3. Coach vs. Boss – People want managers who can coach them to understand and apply their strengths and who value them as people and associates.
  4. Conversations vs. Reviews – People want ongoing feedback and genuine discussions about who they are doing, not a one-time, one-sided annual review.
  5. Strengths vs. Weaknesses – People want a chance to do that they do best naturally every day. Because weaknesses never turn into strengths, but strengths develop continually with practice.
  6. Life vs. Job – People want an authentic relationship with mangers that includes talk about both work and life. They want to work somewhere that values their strengths and invests in ongoing development.

Recognizing individuals’ strengths allows you to surface high potential employees that can deliver the performance your organization needs most. It will enable you to put your best performers on a career track that will keep them motivated, engaged, and growing. Creating a strengths-based culture requires a shift in mindset to developing people regularly and helping people approach their work through a strengths lens every day.

We sincerely hope this piece has been helpful to you. Stay tuned and look forward to more information on building peak performance cultures through strengths-based development and high-performance mindsetting.

Warmest Regards,

Rob