In January of 2019, I fielded three inquiries along the lines of “Does Purple Ink do team building?” What “team building” means for everyone is different, but when I get that question, many times what I interpret is something along the lines of trust falls and rope courses. While these types of challenges can certainly promote team building, when I dig a little deeper with the potential client, we soon discover that trust falls aren’t the answer, but CliftonStrengths® just might be.
One team building inquiry that month started with an online message through Purple Ink’s Training Services interest form. A local court system was looking for training. The message said “Your team is what I’m looking for to ignite an ‘out of the box’ approach for the supervisory team to re-think team building, conflict resolution, and culture change in the facility.” WOW! What an awesome leader to recognize this need for her team, and how humbled were we to be thought of as the team she was looking for!
As with any potential training client, my first step was to have a conversation with this manager, Dawna, to understand her team, their needs and challenges, and, specifically, what she meant by an “out of the box” approach. My scribbles from the call note: team of 4 supervisors…new mindset over 2-3 years…changes w/personnel – switching positions, promotions, hierarchy changes…supervisors in charge of 20-25…want to feel empowered at work. I recall excitement and confidence rising as I took these notes – I knew Purple Ink had the training to address the challenges, and although it was the biggest resource in our own toolbox, as I suspected, it was “out of the box” for Dawna. “Have you heard of CliftonStrengths®?”
Although I knew CliftonStrengths® was the answer, it was a hard sell. With no familiarity around the tool that was leading more than 22 million people to “thrive at work and everywhere else,” Dawna was skeptical of the idea that the assessment and training could lay the foundation for addressing all of her needs – team building, conflict resolution, culture change, empowerment. Where were the trust falls and rope courses? After more questions from me, and more discussion, Dawna (hesitantly) agreed that her four supervisors and some additional leaders in the organization would do a 3-hour CliftonStrengths® training that combined two of our trainings: Name, Claim, and Aim Your Strengths! and The Power of Strengths in Team Collaboration.
On the day of the training I arrived excited, despite Dawna’s forewarning that this would be a tough group – these were supervisors and managers that spent the majority of their day dealing with youth “residents” who were in the court system. Participating in the training herself, Dawna would soon find out why she had put me right in my Competition strengths zone by issuing that challenge!
This training remains one of my favorite of all time. The participants were active, we openly and honestly discussed challenges and how Strengths could help address them, there were frequent personal and team ‘aha’ moments, the team grid was the most evenly populated I had ever seen, and it was clear that participants left feeling empowered by their own strengths – the culture change had been set in motion! And the best part? The follow-up email from Dawna, one week after the training: Many thanks for the wonderful workshop! The feedback has been tremendous, so much so that a new group has been approved to attend the CliftonStrengths® Workshop. This marked the beginning of three more trips to train new groups on CliftonStrengths®.
Dawna and I have continued to check in with each other. She has recommended us to other divisions within the court system, and we’ve had the opportunity to work with additional groups. In a recent check-in, I asked the usual, “How are things going for you and your staff? Is the Strengths talk continuing? I want to make sure you are seeing results, and doing what I can to help you continue to reap the benefits of a Strengths-based culture!” I was encouraged by Dawna’s response: Strengths are a major part of the conversation, training, and team collaboration in the facility! It’s awesome to hear and even more exciting when you see it implemented. Again, WOW! Almost one year later and the benefits continue, and I am already looking forward to working with the group on a refresher in the fall!
CliftonStrengths® isn’t always the answer. While we are always happy for new clients and new business, it is equally important for us to feel that the training and coaching we are providing are the actual services needed to help the organization succeed. If at first glance our trainings don’t seem to address the challenge, it is our commitment to our clients to customize the training to address needs, or make a recommendation to a trusted collaborator. The first step is a conversation – we would love to get to know you, your team, your organization – and would be humbled to serve you if we can. Please feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to set up a chat – firstname.lastname@example.org.