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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

CliftonStrengths Coaching Through Change

“Yesterday was complicated; today is complex,” claimed Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO of SHRM, on the keynote stage at the 2018 CliftonStrengths Summit.

In order to survive, humans need to be agile. Disruption seems so daily. We live and work in an age of digital transformation, an era of change. Recently, both of us presented on the topic of Change through the lens of CliftonStrengths. The one-two combo of workshops provided information and resources to help people navigate change themselves or lead others through the inevitable torrent of change ahead.

The word change often triggers certain emotional responses. Some people love change; some tolerate it; some deny, ignore or dislike change and may try to stop it. But we don’t always realize that we all have a role to play in change -- even resisters. It is important that we not stick with old, unprofitable ways and that we keep moving forward.

When we ask others which talent themes are best in times of change, we often hear them mention Adaptability, Positivity or Arranger. In truth, all themes bring something and need something in terms of change. 

Take Deliberative. Those with this theme are best known for the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles. Or Analytical. Those with this theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation. These people might initially be seen as resisters, but they are often the very people who can help keep us from charging headlong into something without the due care that is needed. In many cases, they may indeed be catalysts for change, having anticipated the need from a practical (Analytical) or preventative (Deliberative) mindset. 

Our role as coaches is not to pick and choose the best themes to deal with change; it’s to help our clients navigate their ever-changing world through the lens of the themes they have. We also need to help them look at partnering opportunities that can help them break down silos, build trust and increase collaboration and communication flow.
By leveraging and valuing potential and existing partners, we increase diversity of thought and gain new and efficient ways of working to eliminate waste -- typically the aim of most change initiatives.

We tend to underestimate just how difficult it can be to take the first step toward change and to build new, sustainable habits for long-term growth. To help minimize that “dip” in performance, effective change management can be achieved by following some simple steps. We have put these steps in the context of building strengths and engagement into an organization.

Plan and Prepare for Change

Change starts with me -- As leaders, we must believe in the change to rally others around the cause.
Establish a clear vision -- We need to understand and succinctly communicate how the future will look, with a roadmap to take us there.
Build a coalition -- This is not a solo journey. We need several complementary partners to get the message out and shape the culture.
Create a sense of urgency -- We need a compelling driver to make the change, and everyone needs to understand the “Why?” and “What’s in it for me?” to support the change.

Which strengths help you authentically share your commitment to the change, paint a picture of the future and rally others to support the desired change?


Manage Change

Execute your communication plan -- All change is ultimately individual. What are the needs of each of our key stakeholders and how can we ensure we address their concerns?
Ask powerful questions to identify and manage resistance -- Do you support this change? What additional information or training do you need? What is getting in the way of our success? How can we make it easier to achieve this change?
Remove barriers and clear up communication -- Resistance is normal and often emotional in nature. Which of your strengths help you overcome resistance to change?

Integrate and Sustain

Gather feedback and track progress -- By inviting those affected by the change to provide their input, we promote increased engagement through times of change. How do we measure success? What incremental progress can we show at regular intervals? 
Reward early adopters -- Who are the key change advocates and emotional leaders who will help bring others along on the change journey?
Build habits -- Practice and reinforcement take time and steady progress. Change leaders need to provide support until individuals feel the benefit of the change and start to see it as “This is the way we do things around here.”

Which of your strengths will help integrate change and build habits? 



Jim Ball is a Change Leader at Lonza Biologics, where he introduced strengths and engagement to its 900-person flagship manufacturing site. Effective change management was essential for ensuring a smooth rollout and sustainable business practice.

Jim’s Top 5 are Futuristic, Strategic, Activator, Command and Significance.


Charlotte Blair is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in Melbourne, Australia, who specializes in working with teams in organizational settings and navigating the new “future of work.”

Charlotte’s Top 5 are Activator, Woo, Command, Arranger and Positivity.


Purchase CliftonStrengths Assessment codes and Coaching Resources.
Want more on CliftonStrengths? Listen to our on-demand Theme Thursdays.

Get more information about or register for the 2019 CliftonStrengths Summit.

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