Shelf Life

By Maria Forbes
November 18, 2015

grocery store
While grocery shopping it occurred to me that team diagnostics do not expire, they simply have varying shelf life. Thinking about what I need to buy that week, I observed myself, in a way, as I generate an ongoing list of short term and longer term grocery needs to keep the job easy to manage and to prevent missed items. I was struck by the similarity to team development.
We recognize foods as perishable and non perishable. Non perishable foods have a shelf life, a period of best use, determined by the manufacturer and stated as a sell by date on the label. Non perishable food lasts longer than perishable – fresh or raw foods, but they are not without an expiration date. When you shop for groceries, you decide how much perishable food you will consume in a shorter time frame, and how much non perishable food you will use over a longer period of time in order to achieve ongoing meal preparation.
When helping individuals to lead with their combined strengths (knowledge, personal values and problem solving strengths), the insights gleaned from diagnostic processes reveal and validate untapped and underutilized abilities. The alignment of combined individual strengths with leadership goals helps to define contributing roles and to cultivate steady performance.
Untapped or underutilized personal abilities do not decay like perishable foods. While they have a longer shelf life, you might think of the sell by date as the time frame when the individual is motivated to perform, and diagnostic information is best utilized. When a team gains performance momentum from validation and alignment of their natural strengths, they can view the experience as a one shot deal. Once you know, you are good to go!
The reality of any development process is gradual practice of new behaviors until they become second nature, or habit. When clients learn the combined strengths of their teams, they often experience a surge of mutual respect. What they really want is a long term effect and that takes work. Diagnostics are non perishable; they have an extended or a permanent shelf life, depending on the intent of the tool.
If you have invested in the discovery of team strengths do yourself a favor; take a new look at the reports and consider integrating this critical information into your growth strategy. Some insights offer shorter term impact to create awareness, improve personal value and mutual respect, while others have longer term use, to develop reliable organizational contributions.
As in preparing perishable foods before they begin to decay, we must utilize shorter term insights to preserve enthusiasm and motivation of team members. We incorporate non perishable foods with fresh foods, and similarly in developing team contributions we blend shorter term insights with more stable data, to achieve long term results. A shopping list that is created each time the need arises, will take longer to complete than a list that is ongoing and revised as you shop. Don’t use your people strengths as a sporadic shot of enthusiasm. Cultivate their strengths ongoing, in accordance with a contributing role, to achieve a cohesive long term growth strategy.
For assistance in your business and team diagnostics, contact us at FIREPOWER Teams – we are here to help!

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