Have you ever searched for books about financial matters on Amazon? Or gone into a bookstore and browsed the financial section?  It is mind-boggling how many books have been written on the subject.  An internet search leads to countless other articles on the topic of finance.  We are a society greatly concerned with our finances. How much financial control do you feel you have?

The Gallup Global Financial Health Study Gallup defines three levels of financial control:

  • SECURE – 33%

Respondents are considered to be financially secure if BOTH of these situations apply to them:

  1. They could cover ALL of their basic needs, like food, housing, and transportation, for more than six months if they lost their income and had to survive only on their savings or things they could sell.
  2. Making payments to pay back the money they owe does not make it difficult for them to pay for the other things they need.
  • STRETCHED – 39%

Neither secure nor insecure

  • INSECURE – 29%

Respondents are considered to be financially insecure if EITHER of these situations applies to them:

  1. They would be able to cover ALL of their basic needs, like food, housing, and transportation, for less than one month if they lost their income and had to survive only on their savings or things they could sell.
  2. Making payments to pay back the money they owe makes it “very difficult” for them to pay for the other things they need.

According to Gallup and their partner MetLife Foundation “The study interviewed more than 15,000 people in 10 very different countries to help leaders, organizations and countries worldwide make more informed, evidence-based decisions about how to help people lead financially healthy and secure lives.”  But what about you?  How can you take this information meant for “leaders, organizations, and countries worldwide” and make your own informed decisions about making financially healthy and secure lives?

Read over those three categories again – secure, stretched, insecure. Where do you fall in these three categories?  Be honest – not where would you like to be but where are you right now?

How would you answer Gallup’s two questions: first, how long respondents could cover their basic needs (through savings or by selling assets) if they lost their income; and second, whether making repayments against debts does or does not make it difficult for them to pay for other things they need?

Are you in control of and can influence your financial situation?  Are you using formal financial services? Is your employment secure? Have you saved enough for retirement? Do you have the ability to pursue your financial dreams?

My long time business mentor and friend, Latham, has inspired me how he has used his #Learner strength to increase his prices and profitability in his Ghostwriting business, be completely debt free, save reserves for emergency and retirement, as well as live the life of his dreams traveling with a minimalist lifestyle.

My business tag line, “Grow Stronger – Work Smarter – Live Richer” is partly about getting control of your money with your #CliftonStrengths themes.

You can grow from insecure or stretched to secure in your financial well-being. Are you ready to think strategically, execute plans and accomplish your goals for your finances?   Then let’s talk about how to help you live richer.

Sign up for a complimentary Ask Brent Anything call here. 

Employee Engagement – it is one of the buzziest buzzwords used in business.  We seem to hear about employee engagement constantly but what does that mean and why do we care?

According to Gallup, an engaged employee is one who is involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Forbes magazine says Employee Engagement means the employee’s connection to your mission.  As an employer this sounds like a great idea to have your employees “enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace” and to be connected to your mission.  What a significant impact this could make for your business and your bottom line.

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace survey, there are more than 100 million full-time employees in America.  Of those 100 million workers only one-third of those employees are engaged with their work.  Only 33% of people love their jobs.  So if 33% of the American workforce is engaged where does the other 67% fall?  16% are actively disengaged, and the other 51% are not engaged and just showing up.

If we want our employees to be engaged, it looks like we are not doing such a good job.  The numbers from the Gallup survey are pretty grim.  As a manager why should you care if your employees are engaged or not?  If your employees choose to be disengaged what difference does it makes as long as they get the job done?  How can you, as a manager, make sure your employees are engaged at work?

As the very first Gallup certified strengths coach, I have facilitated more than 27,000 coaching sessions and given more than 750 presentations to organizations across the globe.  I have seen that learning and using an employee’s strengths to make sure not only are they in the right job but that you are honoring who they are and what they authentically bring to the table can make all the difference.

Learning your team’s strengths will help you as a manager gain a clearer picture of your team’s talents.  When you have this clear picture, then you can guide your team members to discover where they fit best on the team.  Being able to contribute to the team from a place of strength can open up whole new worlds to your employees.  Your employees will feel a stronger bond to your organization’s vision, mission, and purpose.  This bond will create a stronger team the works seamlessly together.

To get your employees to engage with your organization, you must first engage with them.  While learning your teams’ strengths make sure that you share your strengths with the team.  With a group understanding of everyone’s strengths, the team will learn what to expect from each other and how they will work out of their strengths.  This understanding of who they are on the team will build a better understanding between team members and how they all fit in the team.

Finding your team’s strengths and using them to build your team will take engagement from a buzzword to reality for your organization.  According to Gallup, improving employee engagement strongly impacts the overall well-being of your business. Some of the effects that employee engagement Gallup found are:

  • 17% higher productivity
  • 21% higher profitability
  • 10% higher customer satisfaction
  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 24% less turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 59% less turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 70% fewer safety incidents
  • 40% fewer defects and quality issues

Are you ready to move the needle on engagement and build the team of your dreams?  Then let’s talk strengths.

Discovering your strengths is much like climbing aboard a dog sled. Knowing your strengths is one thing; putting them to work is another. Mounting your sled and harnessing the dogs—identifying your strengths—is the first step to achieving your goals. The next step is to apply those strengths to grow stronger, work smarter, and live richer.

Strengthening your mindset is all about overcoming fears, strengths blindness, and those limiting beliefs preventing you from moving forward.  My wife and I were certainly anxious before taking our first dog sled ride. We worried about getting hurt, losing control of the sled, or maybe careening into the snowy wilderness. And, while some of those fears were well founded, they had a lot in common with a weakness-based mindset many of us have developed about ourselves.

So often, when facing a new challenge, we prepare for the worst. On the precipice of closing a sales deal, planning a career move, or angling for that next big promotion, we assume we’re going to fly off the sled and land in the snow. This mindset predicts our fate. We lose control of the sled because we’re focused on what we can’t do, instead of tapping into what we can do.

A strengths-based mindset, on the other hand, focuses our talents on what we do best. Remember, a successful sled is pulled by a team of dogs with different talents.  Each dog plays a valuable, yet distinct role in every trip. Were the driver to focus on what each dog can’t do or can’t do well, he would have trouble unifying the team and staying on the trail. To grow stronger, you must mount your own sled with confidence, knowing which strengths will help you round the next bend, leaving your can’ts and don’ts at the lodge.

Maximize Your Strengths

If a strengths-based mindset is the foundation for growing stronger, then your speed, arrival time, and ability to brace yourself against the inevitable bumps in the road all depend on whether or not you are maximizing your top strengths.

Maximizing your strengths starts by turning your top five talent themes into world class strengths. Your top talent themes are your greatest patterns of natural thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Technically they are not strengths yet. Donald Clifton defines a strength as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” The goal of maximizing your strengths is to add knowledge, skills, and practice to your talent themes, then productively apply those talent themes to an activity you are energized about and want to be world class at.

You also want to drive the right strength, at the right speed, at the right time. Imagine driving each of your talent themes 0-120 mph. Coasting or underusing your talent is 0-40 mph. Speeding or overusing your talent is 80-120 mph. Cruising or balancing your talent is 40-80 mph with the optimal speed between 65-80 mph.

Many people coast with a talent because it lies dormant inside of them. They have strengths blindness or perhaps are in an environment that doesn’t value that particular talent. Others may speed so fast with their talent that they crash and burn causing harm to themselves or others. But mastery is having the wisdom to drive the right talent, at the right speed, at the right time. Knowing how to shift gears, break and accelerate depending on the situation at hand.

At the same time, you must seek guidance from those who share your talents and partner with people who you feel can help you better utilize them. Make a list of resources—coaches, colleagues, books, tools—that will deepen your understanding of your signature strengths. Consider joining others in a strengths mastermind group. Commit to an attitude of lifetime learning, whether it’s through self-study, coaching, mastermind groups, or higher education. I recommend a combination of all four.