In the article How to Play to Your Strengths I learned about a career planning technique that focuses on 100% positive feedback—that’s right no “constructive feedback”.
The article outlines that it’s human nature to focus on the negatives (when asked people remember four negative memories for every single positive one). And yet far too often, we as managers focus on developing weaknesses in ourselves and our teams. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy put forward by Gallup Researchers Buckingham and Clifton in Now, Discover Your Strengths which, as the title suggests, focuses on the positive qualities in yourself and your teams.
Reflected Best Self (RBS) Exercise
Unlike most performance exercises, this one focuses entirely on positive feedback—no negative or “constructive” comments. Here are the four steps to this process:
- Identify Respondents and Ask for Feedback
Gather feedback from a broad set of sources, including people you don’t currently work with (e.g. family members, friends, teachers). Avoid conducting it alongside traditional evaluation methods which include a negative focus
- Recognize Patterns
While the sources of input will be varied, try to identify common themes.
- Compose your Self-Portrait
Take the patterns that emerged and your own self-observations and write a prose narrative that describes “When I am at my best, I…”.
- Redesign Your Job
Based on what you learn about yourself you may change how you work and what tasks you delegate to your team.
The self-portrait developed out of this exercise seems like a useful tool to motivate and align one’s efforts at work.
Want to know more?
- Article: How to Play to Your Strengths [$] (HBR Jan 05)
- Assessment: Reflected Best Self Exercise [$] (Univ. Michigan)
- Book & Assessment: Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham, Clifton)