According to psychologists, loving what you do tends to boost productivity and enhance overall performance. Furthermore, those who enjoy their jobs are reported to be more likely to be more optimistic and motivated, faster learners, less prone to mistakes, and better at making business decisions.
That’s why, in our latest webinar, we welcomed Cortney Stehlik-Freeman, Founder & Managing Director of Powerfully Simple HR & Leadership, to talk about how to use your strengths to find a job you love. Read on for our recap!
In today’s culture, taking time out to focus on ourselves can often be seen as selfish or lazy (especially if we have dependents to think about), making us much less likely to take a moment to figure out what we want for ourselves. But, as Courtney points out, while it can feel more than a little counterintuitive, there are many benefits to looking inward so that you can apply what you learn about yourself to important things in life (like finding your dream job).
“Most of us probably grew up in an educational system where we were graded on the output of our work,” says Courtney. “We get an A if we do really well, we get an F if we fail, and, of course, there are grades in between (which is often where we fall).” However, she encourages professionals to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. “Look at it in a different way; if you were really good at social studies, and not so good at math, what I’m going to ask you to do now is really focus on the social studies piece.”
Courtney goes on to explain how, in positive psychology, strengths are defined as built-in capacities or particular ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. “If I’m left-handed and I tried to use my right hand to write all the time, not only would I be inefficient, but I wouldn’t be able to communicate as well. [By using my left hand], I’m using my strengths.”
In short, knowing your strengths start with:
- Taking the time to focus on your wants and strengths;
- Focusing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses, and;
- Recognizing that many of your strengths are innate and focusing on them yields better results.’
Research shows that the process of identifying and using your strengths has been linked to an elevated sense of vitality and motivation. Furthermore, focusing on employee strengths during performance reviews increased workplace productivity by up to 34%, and using strengths-based interventions in the workplace led to a lower staff turnover by up to 14%.
That said, how do you go about identifying the strengths that will ultimately drive your professional success (and personal fulfillment)? Courtney shares a few different ways:
“One thing that I love to do is think of three to five people who are close to me and who know my work and ask them, ‘what would you say are my top three greatest strengths?’ People are often more than willing to answer this question. There are also more formal ways to uncover your strengths [including] several different types of assessments.”
Now that you’ve done the internal work, how do you translate personal strengths into professional ones?
Courtney recommends starting with a frank and honest discussion with yourself by asking:
- Are the strengths you’ve identified really your strengths (or do they just sound good on paper)?
- Are they relevant to the work you want to do? If so, how do they translate in a professional setting?
- Are they adaptable (can I bring these strengths with me from job to job or use them in a new and interesting way)?
Of course, once you understand what your strengths are (and how they can be used in a professional setting) you’re going to want to match those strengths with a job that you love. Courtney recommends starting with the job you have now (if you have one).
“[Ask yourself], do you love your work? And if you don’t, how can you integrate more of your strengths into your work in order to feel more satisfied? Or, how can you leverage your strengths in order to move into new a new role? [These questions and their answers will vary] depending on who you are, what your goals are, and where you want to go in life.”
When it comes to choosing a company based on your strengths, Courtney recommends looking at the company’s culture. “How do you know what a company is going to be like? Take a look at their website [and] their job ad [and see what you can glean from there]. Have a conversation with employees from the company. If you’re [going] through the hiring process. you can talk with one or two other employees to get a sense of what the culture is like within that department. You will also get a sense through the [initial] recruiting and interviewing process.”
Finally, she recommends taking an assessment through Part & Parcel, which is based on The Big Five personality test and is used to match land professionals to suitable organizations.
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