Covering Your "A"

Aim your strengths at your goals for success and professional fulfillment in 2020

There is something about the start of a new year that I find extremely energizing.  My Strategic (#1), Ideation (#2) and Futuristic (#3) strengths power on all cylinders, motivating and inspiring me to plan the promise of a new year (Belief #6) for myself and my assigned business units.

Don Clifton, the "Father" of positive psychology and the founder of Clifton Strengths is quoted as saying "'Nothing happens until someone expects something of you in ways you can achieve.".  Research has proven that there is a direct connection between understanding and applying your unique strengths and doing your best work.  There is then a connection between doing your best work and feeling your best.  Finally, when you feel your best at work, you perform your best at work - and have a greater likelihood of achieving your goals.

As an Achiever (#5), I am never short of goals to strive for.  This year, one of my goals is to refresh the annual goal-setting and action-planning within my areas of influence in order to align desired outcomes to the unique strengths of Team Members. By doing this, employees will be positioned to do their best, feel their best and exceed their goals in ways they can achieve them.  

Most organizations use a Balanced Scorecard approach to annual performance measurement.  Balanced Scorecards bring together seemingly disparate elements of a company's mission and strategic agenda.  Typically, categories within a Balanced Scorecard answer four basic questions; how do customers see us? (customer perspective); what must we excel at? (business process perspective); how can we invest in our employees? (learning & growth perspective ); how do we look to our shareholders? (financial perspective).  

To guide my teams to apply their strengths to do their best, feel their best and exceed their goals in ways they can achieve them, I plan on taking the following approach to 2020 goal setting and action planning; 

1. Leadership should  communicate consistent performance perspectives (Balanced Scorecard) to plan towards; example Guest Satisfaction, Team Member Satisfaction, Financial Performance, etc. and collaborate on high level expectations (desired outcomes) within each category.  

2. Each Team Member should consider which of their Top 10-12 Clifton Strengths connect most naturally to the overarching goals.  For example, to plan actions around a goal related to achieving Financial Results, I would connect strengths which motivate and drive me to achieve results; for me Achiever, Belief and Responsibility.  

3. After strengths are connected to the goals, Team Members should craft 3-5 simple and clear strengths-based action plans to contribute to and achieve the desired outcomes.  In the world of Clifton Strengths, this is called "Aiming" your strengths at your goals.  Precursors to "Aiming" are "Naming" (knowing your strengths) and "Claiming" (respecting and owning your strengths).  You must be able to first Name and Claim your strengths in order to Aim them effectively.

4.  Your unique strengths are the "A" (Achievable/Attainable) in "SMART" action planning.  While you don't literally have to name your strengths in the action plan, they should be the foundation and inspiration of your narrative.  Be prepared to answer the question "which strengths will you use to execute that action plan and how will you use them?".

5. In addition to covering your "A" 😊, make sure the action plan is Specific (what will you do?), Measurable (how will you evaluate success?), Relevant (does the action align with your role and with your corporate mission?) and Time-Bound (when will you get it done?). 

In the ground-breaking book First, Break All the Rules, co-author Marcus Buckingham points out that your talents are multipliers.  The more energy and attention you spend deliberately aiming your talents and strengths will result in you doing your best and feeling your best - resulting in greater outcomes and rewards.

Make 2020 the year you Name, Claim and Aim your strengths towards being your best, feeling your best and achieving your professional goals.

Dan Donovan
Dan is a Sr. Director in Park Sales and will be celebrating his 23rd anniversary with Universal Orlando this year.  He is also a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach whose passion is to drive engagement by helping Team Members discover their natural talents and productively leverage them in the workplace.


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