How JP Uses CliftonStrengths to Create a Collaborative, Strengths-Based Culture

I love my job. Not just the daily tasks—which fulfill my odd obsession with numbers, spreadsheets, to-do lists, and problem solving—but the dedicated, passionate and extremely talented team members I get to work with every day. JP allows me the opportunity to be the best version of me through our strengths-based development approach, where it is understood that our greatest opportunity for success lies in building on our natural talents and what we love doing.

What is strengths-based development?

Simply put, strengths-based development is the practice of identifying each employee’s key strengths, developing those strengths, and putting employees in positions where they can best utilize their strengths at work.

At JP, we use the CliftonStrengths Assessment, which measures and categorizes each person’s talents (natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving) into 34 themes, then creates a custom report that identifies their top five most dominant themes.

Knowing someone’s strengths can tell us a lot about the way they execute tasks, influence others, build relationships, and solve problems. This provides us with a common language to better communicate with and understand each other at work.

Our strengths-based culture

We literally reference strengths in everything we do, from the interviewing process before a new employee is actually hired to the evaluation process as we’re setting new performance goals. All employees have a special desk card with their top five strengths listed to help with awareness across the office.

We conduct “This is Me” strengths activities where new employees review highlights of their top five strengths and present those to the entire team at our monthly meetings. We reference strengths when we offer recognition and rewards, when we form groups for team building activities or brainstorms, when we’re assigning daily tasks, or just in casual conversation around the office as we categorize each other’s actions by a particular strength, “There’s your activator coming out” or “That’s my deliberative working.” In a post-COVID world, focusing on our strengths feels more important than ever. Now when we talk about our strengths and how we are using them to persevere and perform, we are doing so through virtual team meetings and individual check-ins.

Speaking in Strengths

In our highly collaborative environment, it’s especially critical that we know how to communicate with each other in a way that speaks to the other person through their “strengths language” if you will. Here are some examples of how we have learned to understand and capitalize on each other’s strengths within the office:

Bri’s top strength is Responsibility, and four out of her five strengths fall under the Executing domain. She is extremely reliable and detail-oriented and doesn’t miss a thing, ever!

Web developers don’t have it easy, but with Futuristic and Strategic as Brandon’s strongest strengths, he certainly makes all of the behind-the-scenes problem solving and execution look effortless.

All of Dillon’s top five strengths are in the Relationship Building domain. In addition to being a killer designer, he’s a really, really nice guy and a solid team player who wants to please.

Michele, known in the office as The Activator, won’t leave a meeting until next steps and follow-up items are understood and executed right then and there: “I’ll activate on that right away.”

When Kevin talks about his “sky is falling” approach to planning, it means he’s thought of every possibility beforehand so that nothing throws him off. It’s his Restorative strength that allows him to thrive in these situations where others may freak out. He’s our master problem-solver in the office, which makes him a great account manager and event planner!

Jane and Josh are both extremely analytical decision makers. If you need their buy-in on something, you better provide enough thoughtful information to support your argument and not get discouraged by their questions. We now know they’re not trying to be difficult, they just need enough information to process.

Our media team (Emily and Tina) all have strengths in both the Strategic Thinking and Executing domain, which speaks to their ability to execute strategic and effective media plans for our clients.

JP’s Top Five Strengths

Something fun that we like to highlight from our CliftonStrengths team grid are JP’s most common top five strengths:

  1. Achiever (Executing strength) – People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
  2. Relator (Relationship Building strength) – People exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
  3. Responsibility (Executing strength) – People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  4. Input (Strategic Thinking strength) – People exceptionally talented in the Input theme have a need to collect and archive. They may accumulate information, ideas, artifacts or even relationships.
  5. Focus (Executing strength) – People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

With three of our top five team strengths falling under the Executing domain, it’s no surprise that our team loves to make things happen (and we’re really good at it, too).

Employees that are able to use their strengths at work perform better—period. Teams that use their strengths at work perform better—period. In our highly-collaborative environment, effective communication, setting each other up for success, and allowing team members to be the best version of themselves every day is critical to our continued success. I look forward to future development within our strength-based culture!

JEANNA ANTONINO, Operations Director