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A blog about Marketing

Become stronger by knowing your strengths

It’s not exactly new but I am new to it. I’m talking about Strengths Finder.

Imagine a workplace where everyone plays to their strengths every single day. Where people invest in improving their areas of natural talent, instead of spending time where potential is limited. Strengths Finder – an online assessment from Gallup and accompanying book by Tom Rath – can help you understand your strengths and find ways to focus in on them so you can achieve all that is possible. Strengths Finder has helped me in 3 ways:

Understanding myself

My top 5 strengths are:

Communication, Relator, Activator, Significance, Restorative.

As I read the explanations of each theme I found myself nodding in agreement and saying to myself “ah-hah, that’s why I behave like that…” and “that’s exactly how I am”- it was like holding up a mirror.

For example under my Communication theme, Rath says: “And so you take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors” – that’s what I do every day at work and at home.

Seeing a reflection of yourself in the page can provide real clarity, especially through Rath’s ‘Ideas for Action’ which provide bullet point suggestions for improvement.Once you have identified your strengths you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your behaviours, skills and attitudes.

Providing a sense of purpose

For some reason I was initially disappointed that I didn’t identify as having certain other strengths in the list of 34 that are presented in the book.

Once I’d accepted that the overall impact of investing in my areas of natural talent was going to be greater than spending time on other areas, I was able to focus on the singular purpose of being an even better Communicator, Relator and Activator. This is the multiplier effect and if channeled, can be extremely powerful.

Finding a common language

A colleague at The Growth Hub had also identified their strengths. In the book there are tips on how to work with others. My colleague knows I am an Activator and uses this to her advantage. Specifically, she tells me she knows I can make things happen for her and this works to energise me. Our strengths are complimentary and by identifying them and talking openly about them, we have found a common language that delivers results.

Take the Strengths Finder assessment and see if it makes you stronger.

 

Think Big. Act Small

CIM’s SME research early insight.

CIM’s SME research explored…

  • Business performance and confidence
  • Attitudes and motivations of entrepreneurs and business owners
  • Approaches to marketing – resourcing & skills
  • Key challenges internally and externally
  • Finding advice and support.

The most interesting ‘take away’ for me is that strategic marketing activities are largely done in-house yet only 13% of survey respondents considered their business to employ a marketing specialist, i.e. the in-house resources undertaking strategic activities lack experience, training and qualifications.

Have a look at the presentation slides and let me know if any of the findings surprise you:

Three things I learned from UCAS

Last week I had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Hargreaves, Director of Marketing Communications, speak about the transformational journey of change that UCAS is currently on.

Aside from some of the Higher Education sector specifics, which went a bit over my head, Andrew delivered one of the most engaging, funny and honest presentations I’ve seen in a long, long while. Here are three things he said which I thought were really cool, and I’m going to put into practice at The Growth Hub:

1. Fix one thing every 30 days

Each manager at UCAS has a ‘fix-it list’ – a collection of issues, challenges or barriers that need sorting out. There are 10 fix-its on each manager’s list and the target is to tick one of them off by finding a permanent solution, every month. You can start by tackling the ‘quick-wins’ to give yourself more time for the harder stuff, or go in with the big guns and make huge strides of progress, really quickly.

The reason this idea is so cool is because it makes shifting the rocks in the road, seem totally manageable. Roll forward a year and you’ll have sorted out 10 major blockages. What’s not to love?

2. CARE

model depicting CARE- culture, analysis, rational, emotionalThe CARE model stands for:

  • Culture: The culture at UCAS is ‘to be the conscience of the customer’.
  • Analysis: For UCAS this relates to tracking digital movement and behaviour, analysing it, and making marketing decisions that are based on data.
  • Rational: On a basic level, when a customer calls UCAS, is the service decent?
  • Emotional: On an emotional level, how does the customer feel about their experience with UCAS?

This is a useful model that any organisation can think about when embarking on Change. What is the culture, how will you analyse your customers/markets/services/performance, what are the rational and emotional connections you want to make?

3. Take responsibility for outcomes, not functions

At UCAS there are a group of managers who are responsible for results, for outcomes, for delivery. They are not responsible for functional areas of the business. This means that when they are solving a problem, they have absolute clear sight of what needs to happen, and the freedom to remove ‘management distractions’ and disregard hierarchical constraints when they need support from other teams or managers. Being responsible for an outcome sure does focus the mind.


Other than this presentation, my most recent experience of UCAS was when I bought media space from them for a digital campaign last year. I thought they were well organised and impressive. It’s interesting to hear about the inner workings of any organisation but the candid approach from Andrew made it even more exciting. I look forward to following UCAS on its travels and am pretty sure the road ahead will be a pleasant one.

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