How to focus on strengths to build high performance at work

Article

5 min read

“If only I was better at X, I’d get that promotion / pay rise / dream job”.
Hands up if that thought has ever crossed your mind.

Is your hand up?

You’re not alone. It’s only human to focus on your weaknesses and how to improve them. People typically see weaknesses as more changeable than strengths.

But that approach is all wrong.

It’s your strengths you should be focusing on.

Research shows that our strengths can actually help us grow faster than when we focus on our weaknesses. Gallup, a global analytics company, found that people who use their strengths are up to six times more engaged in what they are doing and at least 10% more productive.

That’s huge.

So, if you want to build high performance at work and win your dream career, focus on what you’re good at, instead of what you’re not.

How can you focus on your strengths every day? Read on:

 

1. Get to know your strengths

So you’ve already done the test and identified your strengths. (If you haven’t, stop right here and discover your strengths)

But what’s the point in having a list of superpowers if you have no idea how to apply them?

You need to learn about your strengths:

  • Which strengths do you already use on a regular basis, and which ones could you be using more?
  • Which situations might you use them in?
  • Who else do you know with these strengths, and how do they use them?

Only when you know how your strengths work are you ready to make a plan of attack to use them every day.

 

2. Start task crafting

Take your to-do list and assign a strength to each task. This is known as “task crafting”.

Let’s say you need to prepare a detailed end-of-month report but you hate spending time working with numbers and data. You assign your strengths of Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence to the task. Using these strengths, you create a relaxing space to complete the task, and spend some time making the report look really slick. The time flies by, and you actually enjoy doing a job you usually hate.

Task crafting is a game changer. It helps you optimise your time, because your brain is hardwired to take shortcuts when using your strengths. Suddenly that long to-do list you’ve been dreading doesn’t take any time at all.

 

3. Volunteer for tasks that use your strengths

While you might not be able to go to your boss and create a role that’s entirely built around your strengths, you can do a few things to put more focus on your strengths.

Volunteer yourself for tasks that help you play to your strengths. For example, you might ask to present the monthly update to the management team or take the lead on the data analysis for a project. Not only will this give you more opportunities to flex your strengths, which makes you even stronger over time, it will also show your boss that you’re taking initiative and means they are more likely to think of you for similar tasks in the future.

This is how you can really shine. Because when you use your strengths you’re more likely to enter into a state of flow. And when in flow, your skills and knowledge development will be maximised so you continue to supercharge your strengths.

 

4. Find new ways to use your strengths

If you’re already using your strengths in your job, brilliant! Now, think about all the other ways you can use them.

Brainstorm with your supervisor, look back at ways you’ve used your strengths at work in the past, and ask others to give you examples of when they’ve seen you demonstrate your top strengths.

One way to approach them in a new way is to look at what other people do. Find coworkers or friends who have the same strengths as you and watch how they use them. See if there’s anything you can apply to your daily tasks.

 

5. Work with people who maximise your strengths

Look for people who complement your strengths. They probably won’t have the same strengths as you, but their strengths will help magnify and stretch yours.

You’ll know who these people are because, when you work together, it just feels right.

It’s not always possible to choose who you work with, so another important approach is to look for people’s strengths and deliberately make the best use of them, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.

 

6. Believe you can improve

If you want to build high performance at work and in life, it’s not enough to just do what you’re good at and never try to improve. You need to believe that you can improve those strengths too.

Stanford professor and researcher Carol Dweck calls this a growth mindset.

She says that people with a growth mindset “tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset because they put more energy into learning.”

In other words, people who believe they can improve put more effort into improving, which helps them improve.

 

7. Use constructive criticism

How do you improve things you’re already good at?

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you’re a Pro. Chances are you are still receiving constructive criticism about your strength. Zone in on this feedback and use it to improve.

If you can’t remember any specific feedback, ask your coworkers and friends for their thoughts.

 

8. Say No

Start saying “no” to tasks that don’t take advantage of your strengths. Okay, this isn’t something you can do all the time – the reality is that your job will always include tasks that don’t play to your strengths and you just can’t say no.

But for those things that are outside of your role, try to avoid taking on extra tasks that don’t harness your strengths. It simply doesn’t make sense to fill your day with things that sap your energy and don’t bring any rewards.

 

9. Do more every week

At the beginning of every week, think about ways you can use your strengths a little more than you did the previous week. If you do this every week, you can gradually grow the percentage of time you spend on your strengths at work.

The more you use your strengths at work, the more people will recognise you for those strengths, and the more opportunities you will be given to use your strengths.

 

Make your strengths soar

If you want to stand out, get promoted and propel your career, focus on your strengths first. Believe deep down that you can improve those strengths, find ways to put them to work every single day, and keep doing more. Once you start flexing your strengths, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your professional and personal life.

Want to learn more ways to use strengths and find a state of flow? Download Hodie today.