Gallup has been conducting polls throughout the United States for decades. And Gallup knows Utah well because Utah — or its largest metro areas — is often highly ranked for things like frequent church attendance, daily learning, optimism, charitable donations, well-being and more. Utah also ranks very low for things like the smoking rate and its presidential approval ratings.
Utah is a pretty, great state, if you ask me. Even The Economist is impressed, calling Utah “young, tolerant and surprising.”
But in April of this year, Gallup got to know Utah a little bit better with a personal visit. I led some of my Gallup executive friends — who have worked in Gallup’s Omaha office for many years — on a tour of some of Utah’s most exciting high-tech companies. I won’t be surprised to see Gallup using some “made in Utah” technology in the coming months or years.
Now, Utah is about to get to know Gallup better.
Gallup is holding its first strengths training course for leaders, managers and coaches at Zermatt Resort from June 8-12. More on that follows.
But first, some background.
When I joined Gallup as a senior executive in 2012, all my friends from Utah and Silicon Valley were shocked that I was leaving behind 22 years of entrepreneurship, including seven startups, to join a large company. But interesting to me, they all misunderstood what Gallup does — as I had until a month earlier. When I told my friends and family I was moving to D.C. to work for Gallup, 98% said, “The polling company?” The other 2% (or one person, because my sample was about 50) said, “The survey company?”
Not one of my friends realized that Gallup has been doing management consulting for some of the world’s best-run companies for decades — and had been publishing best-selling books on management, leadership, sales and education for years. Only after I joined Gallup did I realize that the company has been using its unparalleled worldwide polling reach to collect data from more than 160 countries around the world — and from tens of millions of employees and millions of managers — to discover insights that Gallup provides to leaders in education, business and government and in faith communities.
In addition — and this is the most important part of Gallup to me — Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., the father of Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton, dedicated a lifetime of research to the emerging field of strengths-based psychology. Under his leadership, Gallup built an online talent assessment, the Clifton StrengthsFinder. Every copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths (published in 2001, with nearly 2 million copies sold) had a link to that online assessment. In 2007, the book StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath, Don Clifton’s grandson, was published, and the online assessment was updated and personalized. StrengthsFinder 2.0 has sold nearly 5 million copies since its publication, and it is the No. 1 best-selling book on Amazon.com since 2013.
Gallup decided to further unleash strengths on the world by provide the assessment without a book purchase. We started selling access codes on GallupStrengthsCenter.com in 2012. We also began training independent strengths coaches worldwide in 2013. Strengths coaches are professionals who can help individuals and organizations achieve transformational results using the Clifton StrengthsFinder.
Gallup recruited me to help lead the strengths movement. My previous experience with Ancestry.com and FamilyLink gave me nearly 15 years of experience with tools and marketing techniques that allow companies to scale to tens of millions of customers.
My role at Gallup is worldwide Strengths Evangelist. Our team has launched the StrengthsFinder iPhone and Android app (a free download), so more of our almost 12 million customers can remember their top five strengths. We’ve launched a product that lets people upgrade to see beyond their top five strengths to see all 34 of their Clifton StrengthsFinder themes. We have translated GallupStrengthsCenter.com and our coaching curriculum into nine languages, with more coming every year.
We’re building tools for coaches, managers and leaders. We have a YouTube channel that features interviews with strengths coaches and strengths experts every week. We’ve launched the Gallup Certified Coaches Directory to help individuals, small and large businesses, schools, non-profits and faith groups find a strengths coach to work with executives, managers, teams or companies.
Some Fortune 500 companies have trained hundreds of strengths performance coaches so an entire company can become fully versed in the language of strengths and how to use it. I’ve spoken with CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies — or divisions of companies — who swear by the Clifton StrengthsFinder and say it transformed their company culture. In fact, 94% of the Fortune 500 use StrengthsFinder to some degree. My growth-hacking team in Washington, D.C. — yes, Gallup has growth hackers — is helping us find more and more pockets of strengths users in all these large companies to invite them to use our advanced tools and training to get positive results.
My colleagues in learning and development at Gallup offer strengths-based courses in more than 20 cities around the world, and Gallup offers a path to certification for individuals who want to help organizations take a strengths-based approach.
But the Clifton StrengthsFinder isn’t just for the workplace. It’s for schools, faith groups and families. We’re publishing a book soon called Strengths-Based Parenting. Our partnership with Naviance provides a tool called Strengths Explorer — a simple talent assessment — to kids in many school districts throughout the U.S.
StrengthsFinder has helped my family — and me — understand better ourselves and each other.
My nephew took the Clifton StrengthsFinder in late 2012. He was selling insurance at the time—and miserable every day at work. Within a couple of months, he changed his career path in part because of the confirming insights he got from the assessment. He didn’t want a career in business or sales; he wanted to be a counselor—to help people. And his natural talents — which StrengthsFinder highlighted and many of us who knew him had already observed — will allow him to help many people in his career as a counselor and therapist. He’ll finish an advanced degree in marriage and family counseling later this year.
StrengthsFinder has given me incredible insights about each of my children, and about my wife, Christy, that I couldn’t have gotten in any other way.
StrengthsFinder can also offer hope to the hopeless.
My first trip as a Gallup employee was to Ft. Worth, Texas, where some of the best and most caring people I’ve ever met in my life were using the Clifton StrengthsFinder to help hundreds of ex-offenders rediscover what is right with them. They were also learning how to talk about their natural talents in a job interview and how to apply their talents in a work setting. In this program, strengths coaches work with employers to place ex-offenders in a job that matches their talents. My friends in Texas should be CNN Heroes, because their strengths-based approach has changed a lot of lives. People who had been in prison — or homeless — and had lost all self-belief and feelings of worth have used a research-based, validated, scientific instrument to discover their strengths. Nearly 80% of these individuals have been hired and have kept their job, and the program has had a recidivism rate of less than 5% — well below the national average.
Someday, I hope to run another tech company. I think I have one more left in me. But in the past two and a half years at Gallup, my ability to see the best in people — and to appreciate the great diversity of talents that different people have — has forever changed me.
When I stood in the Salt Palace back in 2000 to receive the Ernst & Young Utah Entrepreneur of the Year award with two of my business partners, I had to give a speech. I thought of several people to thank for helping me along the way. But for some reason I also said, “I want to thank God for whoever invented glasses and contact lenses,” because I have such poor vision that without corrective lenses, I might never have been an entrepreneur at all.
Today, as I travel to dozens of states and countries — including and especially my home state of Utah — I often think to myself and sometimes say publicly, “I want to thank God for Don Clifton for giving me a new lens with which to see every person I ever meet. I’m thankful to see them through the lens of talent and strengths — to look for what is right with them, and not for what is wrong with them.” It has changed my life.
So now, dear friends in Utah, I want to introduce you to Gallup.
Gallup is one of the most important companies in the world. We combine 80 years of polling expertise with decades of studying strengths, talent, selection and the workplace with a mission to provide advice and insights to the world’s leaders in business, government, education and faith.
But most of all — for those of you reading this today — we can introduce you to a philosophy, a system and tools that will enable you and everyone you work with to take a strengths-based approach to leadership, management, employee engagement, education and even parenting.
Such a new approach is badly needed.
Much of what people experience in the workplace is negative and stressful. Yes, workplaces need to be focused on outcomes and on performance. But we’ve found that the best workplaces help people apply their natural talents to perform at the highest level — they don’t use a “crack the whip” approach.
Our studies on workplace engagement show a serious problem in the U.S. workplace. Nearly 70% of U.S. employees — including perhaps your own employees — are not engaged at work. About 20% of them are actively disengaged.
We recently reported as part of a major study of American managers that half of all Americans have left a job because of their manager.
Most managers didn’t plan to become managers. They were promoted because they performed well in previous roles — not because they had the talent to manage.
With everything Gallup knows about talent, selection, managers and employee engagement, here’s one of the most interesting statements we’ve ever made:
“A strengths-based approach to management is the single best means of improving the employee-manager relationship that Gallup has observed over the years of working with organizations to improve employee engagement.” (Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, pg. 358)
Companies like Facebook have adopted a strengths-based approach to management:
“At Facebook, we try to be a strengths-based organization, which means we try to make jobs fit around people rather than make people fit around jobs. We focus on what people’s natural strengths are and spend our management time trying to find ways for them to use those strengths every day.”
Employee engagement skyrockets when leaders and managers take a strengths-based approach, and in turn, productivity and profitability increase.
It turns out that letting people play to their strengths is good business.
In 1992 Don Clifton wrote in his first book Soar With Your Strengths, “We welcome you to join us on this marvelous journey we know can change the world . . . to a world built on the strengths of each of its inhabitants.”
I love imagining such a world.
A step towards that goal is to build your workplace on the strengths of all your employees.
Imagine if Utah’s already-great government, business and education leaders decided to take a strengths-based approach in every organization — an approach that celebrates the diversity of talents that people contribute and aims to help each person use their strengths every day.
So Utah, meet Gallup.
I’d like to invite you to learn about the Clifton StrengthsFinder and strengths-based coaching for individuals, managers and teams at Zermatt Resort on June 8-12. Two of our finest instructors will share with you our best training — developed over decades of studying human talent. They’ll share tools, exercises and activities that will help you effectively introduce a strengths-based approach in your company.
Dennis Webb, one of the founders of Franklin Institute — the day planner company — has invited Gallup to offer this training course at Zermatt Resort, a property which he and his associates now own and manage. Dennis will participate during the week, as he plans to offer strengths training in many of the seminars and workshops that will be presented at the Zermatt Utah Learning Center.
This Is The Place
Gallup’s June 8-12 training at Zermatt Resort would be the perfect venue for you — or another executive in your organization who has responsibility for creating a great workplace for your people — to learn how to help your people discover and use their strengths every day.
Need a bit more information to decide? Here are a few more links:
I encourage you to take a few minutes to consider learning more about our Utah course and the strengths movement. I hope to see you in June!