Strategy, development & support for coalitions, associations, organizations and initiatives

Have you wondered why teams of people do not work together well?  It may be due to misunderstandings or to ineffective allocation of tasks. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder is a tool that was developed not only to help individuals know themselves better, but to be used to maximize our work together in teams.

Misunderstanding each other is a major impediment to effective group functioning.  When others we work with react very differently than we do, we may think they are doing it on purpose to irritate us.  This misunderstanding is a waste of time and energy.

Such is the experience of Ruth.  She reports, “On my committees, we often are presented with a situation at a meeting and are asked to make an immediate decision on it.  Our group decision sounds right to me, until I have had time to go home and think about it.  When I bring it up again at the next meeting, the committee members are irritated with me and I feel foolish.”

Ruth has “intellection” in her top five Signature Themes, which means she thinks deeply about things.  This is generally done best when she is alone.  Presenting her with choices and asking for an immediate response is not the most effective way to garner her participation. Knowing her Intellection Theme, the committee moderator may want to provide her with critical information ahead of time, so that she has thoroughly considered it before the meeting.  Or, Ruth might tell the group, “I agree with the decision right now, but you know that I need time alone to think about it.  Don’t be upset if I bring it up again at our next meeting.”  These behavior modifications based on understanding one group member will increase the efficiency of the committee and group satisfaction.  What if the Signature Themes (ie. Talent themes or strengths) of every member were taken into account by her committees?

Division of labor is another reason teams do not work together well.  Often tasks are assigned based on factors other than individual strengths.  When teams of people know more about themselves and each other, they can divide up tasks in ways that maximize their individual talents and increase group effectiveness.  A wonderful by-product of this task allocation is that each individual is more engaged, and group retention is greater.

The 34 Signature Themes have been divided into four domains, based upon a decade of data.  These domains are:  Executing, Persuading, Relationship Building and Critical Thinking.

  • People with dominant Executing themes know how to make things happen.
  • People with dominant Influencing themes know how to take charge, speak up and make sure the team is heard.
  • People with dominant Relationship Building themes have the ability to build strong relationships that can hold a team together.
  • People with dominant Critical Thinking Themes help teams consider what could be. They absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions.

While it is NOT necessary for an individual to be “balanced” i.e. to have Signature Themes that represent each of the domains, it IS necessary for a group to be balanced.  Groups need to understand in which domains their members possess signature themes, and acknowledge the areas in which they are lacking.   They can then formulate strategies about how to handle tasks effectively in the deficits.  This could involve seeking outside help, or utilizing other talents in unique ways.

Do you want to make your team greater than the sum of its parts?  Using StrengthsFinder, we can help your team analyze its strengths and build on those strengths to maximize your team’s potential.

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Woollard Nichols & Associates is a consulting firm committed to nurturing social impact through strategy, development & support for coalitions, associations, organizations and initiatives.

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