Play to your strengths to engage better

Do you know that less than 20% of people are fully engaged at work?

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 15% of employees are engaged in the workplace.

This means that the majority of workforce around the world are either viewing their workplace negatively or only doing the bare minimum to make it through the day, with little to no emotional attachment.

The study also reveals remarkable geographical differences – 33% of US employees are engaged at work – almost two times more than the global average.

On the other hand, in western Europe, only 10% of employees are engaged at work.

The situation looks especially alarming in the UK, where the number of engaged employees is as low as 8% — and the number has been in steady decline for the past few years.

This crisis also offers an opportunity.

The opportunity lies in challenging the thought of waiting for the “perfect” job until we raise our engagement.

There may be better fitting roles, but taking action requires a mindset shift.

The shift? Intentionally playing to the strengths you have that make you come alive; that add substantial value and that help to make your engagement purposeful.

Fanciful? Maybe.

But it made all the difference for me.

I was first exposed to strengths finder in 2006. It gripped me, and hasn’t let go since.

One of the truths I encountered was to play relentlessly to my strengths.

For interest’s sake, everyone has five core strengths out of 34 that are unique to them.

In my case, they are ideation, strategising, maximisingr, arranging and communicating.

I want to share a little on the last strength, communicating.

Marcus Buckingham recommends doing an audit of your own strengths (Note, this is not a personality profile).

What are talents and strengths?

A strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity.

Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.

He further advocates that you keep a list of activities that you do in your everyday week , with a focus on those activities that make you come alive (Obviously there are only a few that meet the brief).

Buckingham identifies four SIGNS of a strength:

S=Success. You succeed at activities in which you’re strong.

I=Instinct. You instinctively know how to accomplish a task.

G=Growth.You grow each time you perform a strength.

N=Need. You feel a need to be involved in an activity.

He then suggests crafting a strong week where you “tilt the table” by including two activities that make you come alive.

This has the advantage of changing your life over time without necessarily changing your job.

Get the picture? It means deliberately adding those activities into your week where the reason they were so meaningful is due to using a strength.

So the more you do, the more it becomes a routine, the more you live… stronger.

As an example, let me cite the strength of communicator.

I started with a weekly email to 16 people in 2012.

At the time, it was a simple way to add value to the beneficiaries in the incubator I was leading in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha).

Over the following 10 years, that simple blog grew to reaching about 1 000 people.

It also became the foundation for writing a monthly article for

a stable of community newspapers.

This also opened the way to be regularly featured on two community radio stations.

And finally, this flow and routine also paved the way to writing my first book, Entreprenacity.

Where did it start? Establishing the routine and regular task of writing and speaking in 2012.

Playing to this strength has resulted in exposure, adding value to others, some growth in income, joy and a higher engagement.

I trust you may draw encouragement from my own story to grow your own story, and craft… a strong life

● Steve Reid writes in his personal capacity.

He has started his own business in support of entrepreneurs, leaders and incubators and may be contacted at