Why Your Strengths Shouldn’t Be Taken for Granted

Arne Van Damme

COO at intuo

Connecting with your organisation in a positive, motivating and prosperous way shouldn't be difficult. When you've applied for a new job and you've made it through the application process as the last man/woman standing, you kind of expect to be that piece that the company's puzzle really needed. So why does it often turn out that you do fit well on paper, but in reality there's still some discrepancy? You have the skills, the experience and motivation, yet you secretly long for a new application process somewhere else...

It's Because of a Slight Misunderstanding

You see, when people are looking for a new hire, they have a selection process that focusses on people's strengths. They try to find out what they are, and how they can push their company forward. So if you're the person that the company thinks has the biggest strengths, they will hire you and all will be well.

But that’s not completely true is it? For example, say you're extremely good at making paper airplanes, does that mean that you’ll automatically love folding the same paper airplane every day? Or that you’ll be content if you have to fold a completely different one every single day? Or, that you’ll have no problem whatsoever crafting everybody else’s planes but your own, because you are so good at it? In other words, will you love your job by default just because you’re supposedly doing something that you are good at? No, of course not.

Your Strengths Are More Than Just Your Competences

This is a common situation in a lot of teams. People are stuck in a position where their managers think their strengths will bring forth results, not knowing that they are banning a lot of talent. They let people work in weakness, without motivation, potential growth, or some form of happiness.

Here are three questions that you have to ask yourself AND should be asked by your managers as well. Take some time and answer these carefully, because they can really alter your professional choices and working experiences.

  1. Who Are You?

    And this has nothing to do with the name you've got, where you come from, who you're married to or how wealthy you are. All this is, is information that can be found in some record, which doesn't really matter. It's where you believe in, what you love doing and how hard you're willing to work for it. Whether it's becoming a famous designer, a skilled carpenter, a world explorer or being the best parent you can possibly be, or maybe a combination of several things. Who knows? You don't, not if you don't ask yourself this question.

    Only if you align your competences with what you love doing and are striving for, you'll be able to define your strengths.

  2. Where Do You Want to Be?

    Why would you be willing to work for a certain company? Simple, one where you're able to deploy your strengths. For example, if you're an aspiring designer whose best work comes from a lot of creative freedom, you shouldn't go for a company where deadlines are so tight you don't have the time to create. But suppose you're a designer who works better with some pressure, this may very well be the place where you belong.

    It's up to you to find the best environment to work in, and/or your company's responsibility to offer that environment.

    Either way, the fact is that you should love working for your company.

  3. How Do You Think You Can Add Value to This Perfect Company?

    If you have done your homework and managed to answer the previous two questions, this question has a very straightforward answer: By aligning your personal goals and dreams with those of the company. That doesn't mean they have to be exactly the same, but if your own aspirations are acknowledged and you know where your organisation is headed, it's much easier to set up objectives and environment that suits you. As a result, you will be able to show what you have in store and the company will truly get what they bargained for.

This One's for The Managers

It's up to you, as a leader, to also ask these questions and work towards an achievable answer. If you don't, you'll just spend time wondering why your people's "strengths" were so promising on paper but aren't delivering what you thought they would. And you'll spend even more time on trying to fix and improve people as if they were faulty wiring. But ask the right questions, check in frequently and manage your people well to see some real results.

So let's not take strengths for granted and build teams where each member can grow and thrive personally, as well as a part of the organisation. Then, and only then, your puzzle will have all the right piece to be the glorious masterpiece you've always imagined it to be.