About out Blog Author:  Jodee Curtis, SPHR, PHR, CPA: For over 15 years JoDee has had responsibility for all facets of human resources including training, benefits and compensation, payroll, employee relations, wellness, performance development, and employment law.  Recently, she served as the Vice-President of Human Resources for a nationwide services company and previously as the Director of HR for Katz, Sapper & Miller, a $60 million CPA firm.

JoDee obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Evansville.  She is a Certified Public Accountant, a Senior Professional in Human Resources and holds certifications as a Predictive Index analyst and as a Creative Problem Solver.  She is a member of SHRM and the AICPA and serves on the board of directors of IndySHRM and the Carmel Library Foundation.  JoDee formerly served on statewide committees for the Indiana CPA Society and served as President of the Indiana Chapter of the Association for Accounting Administrators.

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A few years ago Marcus Buckingham asked us to “Discover Your Strengths”.    Over 2 million of us did it!!.  I was so proud to be a maximizer, arranger, futuristic, activator, communicator.  But, did I do anything about it?  Not purposefully.  We have all taken various assessment tools where we find out what drives us,  what our needs are, and what our profile says about us; but again, do we do anything about it?  Or do we just find it fascinating that they are all “so accurate”.

At the SHRM National conference in San Diego, Marcus called us to action with his latest book, “Go Put Your Strengths to work”.  He tells us that only 14% of Americans spend most of our day utilizing our strengths at work.  Now, it is “work”, but  14%??.  And, what are we doing about it??  Is it because our boss tells us what to do, we are bogged down in the details, we don’t have time??  Or, is it that we don’t ask our boss, get out of the details, and don’t make time?

Step one, of course, is to figure out what your strengths are, and, by the way, it is not just what we are good at.  You might be good at recruiting, but do you love it?  Does it drive you?  Or Does it weaken you to do it ?  A strength is an activity that makes you feel stronger.  Look for the SIGNs – Success (feeling effective when you do it), Instinct (you look forward to it before it happens), Growth (while doing it you are focused) , Needs (you feel fulfilled afterwards).

Step two is to figure out ways to spend most of your time doing them.  It might mean that you need a new position, but probably not.  It’s really about finding the opportunities in your current role. Can you delegate?  Can you hire someone?  Can you reorganize? How can your work differently.   FREE yourself to do this.  Focus (identify where your strength helps you in your role), Release (find the missed opportunities in your role) Educate (learn new skills to build your strength) and Expand (build your job around it).

Many performance management systems ask us to define or be reviewed on our strengths and “our areas of opportunities”.  Marcus challenges us that our strengths ARE our areas of opportunity!  We have the greatest opportunity to move forward, to be empowered, to be driven by our strengths because they make us feel stronger.  Spending too much time on our weak areas only, in fact, make us weaker!!  Note, we didn’t say ignore the weaknesses, though, just don’t allow yourself to be absorbed in them while ignoring the strengths.

I know what you are thinking, “sounds great, but I’ve got work to do”.  Wherever you are, I challenge you to  move up the % of time you spend on your strengths.  If you are only at  14% now, try to make next week 15%; the next week go for 18%.  Let me know how it goes, do you feel more empowered and stronger?

I recently started my own business.  My goal is to spend most of my time on most days utilizing my strengths.  What’s yours?  As Marcus would ask, “isn’t it crushingly obvious??