Destination Excellence: The Performance Results of a Strengths-Based Approach

Perhaps, the StrengthsFinder is just a bunch of hocus-pocus feel good stuff right?  I mean seriously, it has to only be for a team building day right…and what good are those anyhow?  How many different personality assessments do we really need?

Well, truth be told, the StrengthsFinder does feel pretty good and it is very effective in building teams, particularly if interested in building teams for long term success and performance.  Additionally, The StrengthsFinder is NOT actually a personality assessment although it gets lumped in there frequently.  It is a measure of talent, and is ultimately measuring the capacity for human excellence within each of us through our respective unique talents.

Imagine where people get the opportunity to start seeing and appreciating the brilliance of their own potential…imagine what that is like when teammates start to see that within each other.  What do those days, months and years start to look like?  What do performance, profitability and other key business results look like as a result of developing employees around Strengths after taking the assessment?  If you had the opportunity to choose between mediocrity and excellence, which would you choose?

Findings: The Status Quo 

Gallup has studied Strengths based practices for 1.2 million employees globally and found that managers account for 70% of variance in engagement across business units.  Since starting to measure worldwide employee engagement in 2009, Gallup has found that, alarmingly, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.  How can we possibly expect to drive client engagement and strengthen customer relationships with nearly 90% of our workforce disengaged across the world?      Additionally, is this really what we as humanity want to aim for , or just accept?  Or…is there an opportunity for change, and massive improvement?  Is there a better proven way that is taking place in some ecosystems?  To paraphrase Zig Ziglar:


If you aim for nothing, you will always succeed.


Managers Matter…BUT How Effective Are We at Selecting Them?

With managers accounting for 70% of the variance in employee engagement according to Gallup…one simple finding is that managers really matter…A LOT!  So with this correlation, a critical finding is that:


Past success in previous non-managerial roles do not predict future success in managerial roles.


Gallup continues to find that many managers were given that role, because of tenure in the organization or field.  This however misses a critical element…TALENT, namely the right Talent to succeed as a manager.  Gallup estimates that only 1 in 10 people naturally possess high talent to manage and that organizations name the wrong person manager 80% of the time.  50% of employees have left a job, to leave a manager.  Often, employees do not quit jobs, they quit managers.  Have you ever been there or considered it?  I know I definitely have made that decision twice in my earlier career.

So What?  The Business Results of Engaged Employees

The damage employee disengagement causes is devastating and has hard financial costs to organizations and the economy.  Engaging employees has very critical improvements for business units.  Gallup’s latest findings indicate that business units in the top quartile for employee engagement have results including:

  • 17% more productive
  • 21% more profitable
  • 10% better customer ratings
  • 41% LOWER absenteeism
  • 70% FEWER Safety Incidents

So how do we get to increasing employee engagement?  As the old saying goes, Rome was not built in a day.  Neither was an organization with highly engaged employees.  The straight-forward path to get there is the Strengths-Based Development Approach folded into the organizational culture.

The Shift: Focusing on What’s “Right” Instead of Fixing What’s “Wrong”

Fundamentally, the Strengths approach is simply the notion that we all excel in some things better than others and that we would be more productive and happier if we spent more of our time doing those things.  Gallup’s extensive research doesn’t lend itself to under studying information before coming away with facts.  In their latest, most comprehensive study to date, they drilled down into 1.2 million employees across 22 organizations in 7 industries spanning 34 countries.  They studied how Strengths-based employee development leads to more productive engaging workplaces.  After specifically measuring 6 Key Business Indicators: sales, profit, customer engagement, turnover, employee engagement and safety, they found on average, workgroups receiving strengths interventions improved on all measures significantly when compared to control groups receiving less intensive interventions or none at all.   Of the workgroups studied, 90% had performance increases in the following ranges:

  • 10% to 19% increased sales
  • 14% to 29% increased profit
  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement
  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations)
  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations)
  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
  • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents

67% of employees who strongly agree their manager focuses on the strengths or positive characteristics are engaged.  In units where employees strongly disagreed with this statement employee engagement levels were found to be at 2%.

The Bottom Line

Strengths development makes a massive difference in the organizational health and team performance.  Apart from the increases, how costly is employee turnover and safety incidents?  How much more likely is an engaged customer to refer business to you, or to purchase more goods or services from your organization?

If you spend all summer at the gym lifting weights only for your arms, doing nothing for your legs, you would probably understand why at the end of the summer your arms look much different, but your legs have not changed.  Our talents work very similarly…if we can identify where each member on the team has the greatest area of natural talent and identify the way to develop those, we can give each individual and team the opportunity to really flourish.

With only 13% of our global workforce engaged, should we sit on the sidelines doing nothing and expecting different results, or as Ghandi says:


Become the change that you want to see.


The facts are here thanks to Gallup’s continual exhaustive research and analysis.  The question is what are you going to do?

Here Are a Few Ways to Get Started:

  1. Take the Clifton StrengthsFinder
  2. Talk to a Certified StrengthsFinder coach
    • Gain insights into your strengths
    • Learn about ways you can implement and develop strengths on your team
    • Remember, this doesn’t happen in one session…it is an ongoing development process
    • We would be happy to speak with you or make recommendations on who may be a good match for you…Just ask us
  3. Identify how Strengths are contributing or could be contributing
    • How are your personal strengths contributing to the team?
    • How are others strengths contributing?
    • What strengths could be contributing?

If you are wondering about any of the performance increases on your team, the simple question is this…at $15 for the StrengthsFinder assessment, How can you possibly afford NOT to take the assessment?


Do you know your Top Five?  Take the StrengthsFinder ® HERE.


Download the FREE e-book “Play Like a Team” and subscribe to our blog at: www.34strong.com


Are you ready to go from Finding your Strengths to Applying them?  

Contact us to learn how your Strengths can be applied to improve team performance, enhance personal performance, strengthen sales, increase employee engagement, or so you can become a Certified StrengthsFinder Coach.  


Darren Virassammy is Co-Founder and COO of 34 Strong Inc. a leader in StrengthsFinder training and consulting. 34 Strong works with organizations across the United States in developing teams around talent to optimize performance and maximize results. His Top Five are: Achiever, Arranger Relator, Learner, Responsibility. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, or Twitter.

References: Strengths-hased employee development business results – The Gallup Business Journal

Photo Credit: stockphotosecrets.com