It’s that time of year again! The festivities are nearly over and as New Year’s Eve approaches your minds shifts to changes you want to make in your personal and professional lives next year. You may be deciding your New Year’s resolutions and thinking about what you want to stop doing – eating too much chocolate or start doing – going to the gym. It’s no surprise that fitness clubs’ revenues spike in January when people sign up after making a New Year’s resolution to get fitter. This initial surge of enthusiasm and energy often dwindles and visits to the gym fizzle out leading to disappointment. You may tell yourself each year “I don’t know why I bother making New Year’s resolutions as I always break them!” Perhaps this is because your heart isn’t in the commitment you have made to yourself. New Year’s resolutions are often focussed on what we think we “ought to do” differently rather than changes we feel passionate about making in our lives. No wonder the ‘ought to’ choices fail.
The same is true for goals you want to achieve in your professional life. You may get a sinking feeling when thinking about the conversation you are going to have about your 2017 objectives especially when your manager always asks you which areas of development or weaknesses you are going to address. You may be worried about how on earth you are going to reach yet another ‘stretch’ target and whether or not you will have the resources you need to succeed. Does that sound familiar?
When clients tell me about goal setting at work I often see the energy drain out of them as it frequently focuses on what didn’t work well last year and the weaknesses they need to “fix”. The thought of having to take time out of an already busy day to attend “endless” meetings to agree business targets and set goals and development plans for each team member darkens their mood in an instant. They often end their description of the process with a deep sigh saying “I suppose I just have to get on with it!”
Have you considered a strengths-based approach to setting your goals?
What a contrast when discussing a strengths-based approach to goal setting with a client recently and how she could use the ‘Significant 7’ strengths identified in her Strengthscope360 Report – Strengthscope™.
I explained that ‘strengths’ mean those underlying qualities that energise you, contribute to your personal growth and lead to peak performance. You know when you are using your strengths at work when you achieve a sense of ‘flow’. You are totally immersed in the task, time seems to fly by and you feel full of energy with a sense of satisfaction and pride in what you are doing. It’s a joy to see the smiles on clients’ faces when they experience a strengths-based approach for the first time. “What a refreshing change from focussing on my weaknesses!” is a frequent response.
When clients become more aware of the type of work that energises them they sometimes realise that they are in the wrong job or they need to negotiate significant changes to the content. The way clients describe their role is a good indicator of how energised they feel by it. A comment of “I really love my job!” or “It pays the bills!” is the signpost for the direction they need to take during the coaching programme to achieve positive change.
Where is the proof that focussing on your strengths improves goal setting?
One of the best Christmas presents I received was a call from a former coaching client. He said he wanted to thank me for supporting him through his transition to a leadership role in a new organisation that played to his strengths. “I am really happy and have had a fantastic year in my new job!” As the 10 year anniversary of setting up my executive coaching business approaches the conversation was a pleasant reminder of the reason I decided to make a significant change in my professional life to focus on what energises me.
For those of you who like to see hard data to back up any assertions about the strengths approach you might find the following research statistics helpful:
- When an organisation focuses on strengths, employee engagement may increase from a range of 9% to 73% (Rath and Conchie, 2008)
- Departments that support their teams to use their strengths have:
- 38% higher probability of greater productivity
- 44% higher probability of customer loyalty and employee retention (Harter et al, 2002)
- Focusing on strengths in appraisals leads to a 36% leap of performance versus a 27% decline when focussing on weaknesses (Corporate Leadership Council, 2002)
How can you use your strengths to set your goals for 2017?
When deciding your goals for 2017 firstly ask your manager, colleagues, friends and family for feedback on what you do really well and the strengths they value most. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- What value would each goal contribute to my professional development and to the objectives of my team and the organisation?
- What strengths will I use to help me to achieve my goals?
- Which colleagues or friends can I call on to help me to maintain my energy levels?
Wishing you success in achieving the changes you want to make to energise your personal and professional lives in the New Year!
If you would like help identifying your strengths at work to energise your 2017 goals please get in touch to find out how I can support you. Christine Griffin, Executive Coach – firstname.lastname@example.org – +44 (0)7796 147127 – www.griffinity.co.uk.